Do new dependency theories overcome the weaknesses of classical dependency theories?

Topics: Dependency theory, Development, Capitalism Pages: 10 (3326 words) Published: January 13, 2014
Introduction
Over the century’s, economic development theorist have put forward various models for explaining the “underdeveloped-ness” of countries in the Third World. However, with sociological theory comes criticisms and despite lasting a great deal of time in the framework of the international sphere, classical dependency has been subjected to a barrage of criticism on theoretical, empirical, methodological, and stylistic grounds. In this essay, it is my aim to analyse the criticism put forwards while simultaneously determining whether or not the modification by new dependency theorists have overcome these flaws. Before doing so we must firstly acquaint ourselves with the origins of the dependency theory, first formulated in the late 1950s under the guidance of the Director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, Raul Prebisch. The second part of this essay will provide an analytic account of Paul Baran and Andre Gunder Frank’s classical studies of dependency theory, looking at their general perspectives and adaptation to Marxism. Once this has been achieve, the third and final part of this essay aims to draw out the criticism that have been put forward on classical dependency studies while looking at new dependency theorist; Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Stephan M. Haggard and Thomas B. Gold perspectives. This will allow me to conclude how sophisticated new dependency studies are in overcoming the flaws of the classical dependency studies.

Origins of Dependency Theories
Given the many interpretations given to dependency, how can one capture the concept of dependency in a concise manner? Dos Santos, defines it as "a historical condition that shapes a certain structure of the world economy such that it favours some countries to the detriment of others, and limits the development possibilities of the subordinate economies". (SO, A, Y. 1990: 99) Whereas liberals (mainstream economists) define underdevelopment as a condition in which countries find themselves in, depedentistas see it as a process in which less developed nations are trapped because of the relationship between the developed and underdeveloped countries in the world economy. (SÁNCHEZ, O. 2003) However, it can be agreed that dependency theory is not a socioeconomic relation that just “occurs”, it is developed historically through capitalism’s power-relations between the first world and the third world. In order to understand dependency theory, we first need to place the model in historical context by examining its origins. Emerging in the late 1940’s against the development theory of modernization which examined development from the point of view of the United States and other Western Countries, The Dependency Theory took the approach of viewing development from a Third World perspective. According to Blomsorm and Hettne, the dependency theory represents the “voices from the periphery”. (Blomsorm, M, Hettne, B. 1984) Dependency theory arose out of central and south America in the 1960s and 1970s, but was part of a larger movement that was asking a lot of questions about international relations at the time. One of those questions was “why are so many countries not developing?” The traditional answer to this question was that these countries are not perusing the right economic policies or the governments are authoritarian or corrupt. However, dependency theorists wanted to find out if that was all there was to it, which lead them to argue that countries were not developing around the world due to international division of labour, class distinction and global capitalism.

The diagram above (Wikimedia commons, 2008) is a clear example of what dependency theorist meant when they argue that there are a number of different kinds of states in the world which all form a different funtion in the world’s economy. First you have the core states are the most richest and powerful (e.g Europe and North America). These states...
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