1. Critically assess the dependency theory’s explanation of the lack of development in less developed countries. 2. Critically discuss the different conceptions of development. Does the basic needs theory (which adheres to a broader conception of development) have what it takes to propel the LDCs to development?
According to the Encarta Dictionary development is the process of changing and becoming larger, stronger or more impressive, successful or advanced, or of causing somebody or something to change in this way. In the light of this that Dennis Goulet defines development as liberation from poverty and from a stunted view of self. The dependency theory prevailed in the 1960’s and came to reject the central assumptions of the modernization theory, which emphasizes that industrialization, the introduction to mass media and the diffusion of western ideas would transform traditional economies and societies. These impart would place poor countries on a path of development similar to that experience by western industrialized nations. Therefore the theory addresses the problem of poverty and economic underdevelopment throughout the world. Dependency theorists argue that dependence upon foreign aid impedes economic development in developing countries. The less developed countries depend on developed nations and foreign lending institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and these countries must often agree on to rigorous conditions such as budget cuts and interest rate increases and deviate from the purpose of which they came for the loan in order to obtain the loan from international agencies and this makes the debt of many less developed countries sore which adversely increase the rate of unemployment. Furthermore, the dependency theory argue that less developed countries were adversely affected by unequal trade especially in the exchange of cheap raw materials from developing nation for the expensive, finished products manufactured by advanced industrial nations. Since the developing nations do not have what it takes to change their raw materials into finished goods, it is difficult for them to demand for better prices for their primary exports. The advanced countries dictates the prices they wish to give them and these prices are not enough to be able to even help the farmers to develop not to talk about the growth of the nation. At this stage, the role of unequal exchange in the entire relationship of dependency cannot be underestimated. Unequal exchange is given if double factorial terms of trade of the respective country are greater than one (Raffer, 1987, Amin, 1975). Also, dependency theorist argue that wealthy countries are able to use their wealth to further influence developing nations into adopting policies that increase the wealth of the wealthy nations even at their own expense. The policies that the advanced countries propose to these less developed countries makes it possible for the advanced countries to always be advance since the less develop countries will always go to them for help and they will give help with a string attached to it, that is why a less developed country like Zimbabwe economically independent. For instance a less developed country will go for a loan from a developed country for construction of roads but instead of the developed country giving them the aid they in tend add their workers so that the less developed country will even pay these workers out of the loan they went for and at the end of the day the purpose for the loan was not achieved. Another aspect the dependency theory talks about is the fact that the less developed are still not developing due to the fact that they are still in their colonization mentality. That is the less developed countries still go to their colonial masters for advice and help on any issue or decision to be taken. For instance they add that because the less developed countries were once colonized so they feel that every anything has to do with their development must be from their colonial masters, and these advanced countries give them advice that will rather favor them so that their products and services will be accepted. According to Andre Gunder Frank, the experience of colonialism in most developed countries forced a specialization of production of a few crops on less developed countries that was primarily export-oriented and calculated to meet the raw material needs of the colonial powers (Frank 1967). Despite the fact that the dependency theory talks against the need for the developing countries to depend on the advanced countries, it does not mean they should not depend on the advanced countries to develop. According to sociologist Fernando Henrique Cardoso, less developed countries can achieve substantial development despite their dependence on foreign aid. He believed that less developed nations could defend national interest and oversee a process of steady economic growth by bargaining with foreign government, multinational corporations and international lending agencies. Thus when the less developing countries for loan they should not just accept any condition but critically examine what it is and put their nation and citizens interest first and bargain the conditions properly.
The concept of development has been described by many scholars such as Michael Todaro who describes it as a multidimensional process involving major changes in social structures, popular attitude and national institutions as well as the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality and the eradication of absolute poverty. But however development is a normative concept, it implies how things ought to be done. The conception of development have been grouped into two thus the narrow view and the broader and each tackles development in a different perspective. The narrow view tends to focus on development as equal to economic growth and industrialization. From this viewpoint, what makes a country developed is when there is economic growth and industrialization. Under this view we talk about the economic perspective and the political economy perspective. The economic perspective seeks to support the narrow view of development where it sees economic growth and industrialization as the only indicators of development where as the political economy perspective supports it but this time it focuses on distributive issues which reduces the inequality gap and also the other limitations of development like high unemployment rate and education of poverty. The broader view, which is the second conception, focuses on how to achieve the human beings potential and improve the lives of the people; this means it does not share the same thought with the narrow view. From this point, we find he humanist perspective. The question that arises under this is, Development for what? And that is where we get to know that development is for the wellbeing of the citizenry. According to them, a country can only be classified as developed if and only if the people in the country are able to achieve their dreams and aspirations where there should be three things which must also be looked out for, that is life sustenance, self esteem and freedom of servitude were life sustenance has to do with the fact that the people are able to provide their basic needs and self-esteem is where the people have confidence in their own abilities while freedom of servitude is where the people are able to live freely without any hindrance. This is where the Dennis Goulet’s definition takes precedence, were he defines development as liberation from poverty and from a stunted view of self that is where the effort of eradicating poverty takes over. Looking at the broader conception of development, it talks about how the human being is able to achieve his or her potential and from this conception that the basic need theory was propounded. The basic need theory is one of the major approaches to the measurement of absolute poverty in developing countries. The theory argues that the economic growth and industrialization that the less developed countries are yearning for will not make them developed because they have not address the need of the people living in the country. The theory seeks to address the need for the individuals themselves to develop, so unless the individuals develop, it is impossible for a country to develop. In his article, Psychological Review, Albert Maslow distinguished a hierarchy of five needs starting with physiological and ending with self-actualization needs, where according to him are the indicators that makes a human being to reach his or her full potential. Furthermore, the theory argues that the leadership or the political heads pursue certain policies that do not help the poor from benefiting from growth. They argue that the government should put in place certain measures that will make the basic needs accessible to all especially the poor. The government should make it a point to provide water, education, health and sanitation, which are very important services that the citizenry need. The question is, can the theory help the less developed countries develop, we might attempt answering the question in different ways but the argument about theory indicates that it may not be the best solution for a country to be developed because the country still need foreign aid to address their problems. To conclude, the basic theory can be of help to less developing countries because it gives priority to meeting specific needs of the poorest people and focuses on the need to redress absolute deprivation and has worked for countries like Brazil and also Malaysia.
Albert H. Maslow, “A Theory of Human Motivation”, Psychological Review 50, no. 3 (March 1942), 370‐396. Hunter, Wendy. "Dependency Theory." Microsoft Student 2009 [DVD]. Redmond. Microsoft Encarta 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. http://www.wikipedia.com/
Cardoso, Fernando H. 1975. Dependency and Development in Latin America. CA: University of California Press. http://www.economicsonline.co.uk/