Grassroots-led initiatives are the centerpiece of development efforts in the global Bahá’í community as well as those of other practitioners. This paper provides an overview of modernization, Marxian, and civil society paradigms and how these frameworks explain “stirrings at the grassroots.” A new approach, development with dignity, is presented, supported by principles evident in the Sacred Writings of the Bahá’í Faith and other religions, as well as recent research in a number of disciplines. The paper concludes with historical lessons from the three main paradigms and the experience of the Bahá’í community, and suggestions for further investigation of the “dignity principle.”
*A draft of this paper was presented at the Twenty-fourth Annual Conference of the Association
for Bahá’í Studies, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, 1 September 2000.
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