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Urban Growth and Democracy in LDCs - Essay Example

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The rapid urban growth in the least develop countries can have positive or negative effects in developing a democratic environment in the countries. The effect depends on how the urban infrastructure expansion rate compares with the rate of influx into the cities. …
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Urban Growth and Democracy in LDCs

Download file to see previous pages... Projections were given that the urban population in these countries would increase considerably into the twenty-first century. However, recent reports indicate slower rates than what was projected (Brockerhoff, 1999, p.757).
There have been debates as to whether there is a relationship between urbanization, economic development and democracy in a given country (Samarasinghe, 1994). The growth of urban population in the least developed countries can have mixed effects on political development in the country. On one hand, the movement of individuals into the urban centers can promote literacy among the individuals who will then be enlightened to understand their fundamental rights. On the other hand, it can also lead to increased informal settlement generated by joblessness among the youths rushing into the towns and cities. The politicians are able to lure these individuals towards their self-interests. How rapid urban growth can contribute to growth of democratic governments Democracy involves the participation of individuals in all the decision-making processes that will affect the social, political, and economic environment as a society. A system of government will be considered democratic if it ensures ‘a peaceful competitive political participation in an environment that guarantees political and civil liberties’ (Samarasinghe, 1994, p.8). Political democracy will be developed through an integration of the government system (characterized by the formal institutions and agencies in the government) and the political rights, and civil rights and freedom. The members of the society are entitled to these political and civil liberties but this will not be achieved if there are no formal and civil institutions to promote this freedom (Samarasinghe, 1994). In this regard, it is first necessary that the individual be informed of their rights and the roles as members of a given society. The level of illiteracy is still high in the least developed countries. The urban centers in these least developed countries have better social infrastructure like schools as compared to the rural areas. The individuals in these areas also have better access to other information sources and they become more enlightened. With the knowledge of their rights, freedoms and privileges, an environment is created for democracy. Besides, debates have erupted on the relationship of economic development and democratization process in a given country. There has been a popular hypothesis that democracy is caused by socio-economic development in a given country (Samarasinghe, 1994) implying that democracy will follow the satisfaction of other basic human needs such as food, shelter and health. Other theorists also assert that there is need for a good institution and citizenry for democratization to occur. Such theories concur with the Lipset thesis (1963, cited in Samarasinghe, 1994) that economic development is a necessity if democracy has to exist. It is observed that the highly industrialized nations are generally characterized by high levels of democracy whereas democracy rarely exists in adverse economic conditions (Samarasinghe, 1994). It then becomes necessary to consider relationship between urbanization and economic development. Even though divergent views may have been provided by many economists ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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