Aspirations and the Development Treadmill

Debraj Ray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    I describe a positive theory of socially determined aspirations, and some implications of that theory for the study of economic inequality and social conflict. The main contribution of the theory is that it attempts to describe, in the same explanatory arc, how a change in aspirations can be inspirational in some circumstances, or a source of frustration and resentment in others. These different reactions arise from the aspirational gap: the difference between socially generated aspirations and the current socio-economic standard that the individual enjoys. Ever-accelerating economic development can cut both ways in terms of inspiration and frustration.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)309-323
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jul 2 2016


    • Aspirations
    • Conflict
    • Economic growth
    • Inequality development

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Development


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