Superpower Theory (Rostow, Frank & Wallerstein)

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Superpower Theory
Rostow's (1960) `take off' model (modernisation theory)
This shows how a country moves from relative underdevelopment to a state of
high mass consumption. Countries in the 5th stage are postindustrial
economies which focus on services however they usually have very high
ecological footprints.
China are at the `drive to maturity' stage where the economy and their social
progress is growing rapidly e.g. in last 20 years 400 million Chinese have been
lifted from poverty.
Not all countries have managed to industrialise and develop (they are stuck in
stage 1 or 2)
However, flaws of the model include that it is descriptive and therefore doesn't
explain how countries move through the model and also countries could go
backwards or completely miss a stage.
A.G. Franks 1969 dependency theory
This is a Marxist perspective which suggests that the developed world help to
maintain the developing world in a permanent state of underdevelopment ­
trapping these countries in stage 1 and 2 of WW Rostow's `Take Off' Model. The
developed world is draining these countries of human capital (the `brain drain')
and resources e.g. low value primary products such as minerals, coffee beans
The unfair terms of trade and "tied" aid, plus recent neocolonial BRIC FDI
projects on the African continent (e.g. Nigerian oil and Zambian copper)
provide the developed world with cheap resources. Neo ­colonialism is basically
an extension of this dependency theory.
The main flaw of this model is that the world isn't divided into just 2 groups ­
the developed and developing world. Instead countries are in many different
stages of development.
I. Wallerstein's (1980) "world systems theory"
This models the economic complexity of the world, suggesting there is not
only just the core and periphery but there is also a semiperiphery where
countries have moved away from poverty but are still not an economic core ­
the `three sided world'. This model is a better representation because it
includes the NIC's and BRIC's which have developed in recent decades and
suggests that some countries have broken away from dependency and
developed the way Rostow's model suggests.
Wallerstein's ideas are partly related to the economic theory of Kondratiev
waves ­ these are 5060 year cycles which suggest that economic growth
passes through phases based on key new technologies. These new
technologies bring growth to particular geographical regions. For example, in

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UK and in the 19451990 cold war era, white and consumer
goods created the rise of Japan and the Asian tigers.…read more


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