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Poverty and Human Flourishing

Myers suggests that stereotypes about the poor not only incorrectly inform definitions about development, but also form inadequate strategies to improve the chances for flourishing. Theories and outcomes based on economic success alone crippled early development practices until new standards developed in the 1990s became people-centered instead. When the poor were surveyed for their own thoughts on flourishing, surprising insights resulted.


1. It is encouraging to note that a few secular development thinkers have begun to reexamine the modern orthodoxy that relegates religion to the private and personal realm. There have been a number of good studies on religion and development in the field. A brave new book, Religion in Development: Rewriting the Secular Script (Deneulin & Bano 2009), argues that religion cannot be separated from development, that Christianity and Islam are inherently developmental, and calls for a rewriting of the secular development script.


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———. 1997. Whose Reality Counts?: Putting the First Last. London: Intermediate Technology.

Deneulin, Séverine & Masooda Bano. 2009. Religion in Development: Rewriting the Secular Script. London: Zed.

Friedmann, John. 1992. Empowerment: The Politics of Alternative Development. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Narayan-Parker, Deepa. 2000. Voices of the Poor: Crying out for Change. New York: Oxford University Press for the World Bank.

Nussbaum, Martha Craven & Amartya Kumar Sen. 1993. The Quality of Life. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Rostow, W. W. 1960. The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as Freedom. New York: Knopf.

White, Sarah. 2009. “Bringing Well Being into Development Practice.” WeD Working Paper 09/05. Bath, UK: University of Bath.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas. 2008. Justice: Rights and Wrongs. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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Bryant Myers

Bryant Myers, PhD, is professor of transformational development in Fuller’s School of Intercultural Studies. A lifelong activist in Christian relief and development, Myers has over thirty years’ experience with World Vision International.