Global Development Theme 3 - Theories of Development


Modernisation Theory - Walt Rostow


  • Attempts to explain why poorer countries have failed to develop - because of 'barriers' to development, such as traditional values
  • In order for developing countries to develop, they need help from the developed Western world
  • Aimed to provide a specifically non-communist solution to poverty by spreading capitalism to the developing world before communism does (part of the 1950s Cold War)                                                                                                    


1. Particularism: placing people in jobs based on family relationships rather than ability
2. Collectivism: putting the needs of the group before self-interest
3. Ascribed status: being 'born into' a role. This blocks opportunities for the most able
4. Patriarchy: women aren't benefitting the economy because they're not allowed to work                                                                                                   


1. Universalism: the best jobs are open to everyone, creating competition
2. Individualism:
people are free to leave their families/villages to better themselves
3. Achieved status:
encourages hard work through competition and meritocracy
4. Gender equality:
all of the population will be included in economic development 

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Modernisation Theory - 5 Stages to Development 1


  • Economies are dominated by subsistence farming - they have little wealth to invest and have limited access to science and technology                                                                                                                                                  


  • Western values can be introduced to assist the take off to modernisation
  • Investment from Western companies and aid from governments are provided, which helps economic growth                                                                                                                                                                                              


  • New modern practices become the norm and profits are reinvested into new technology and infrastructure
  • A new industrial, entrepreneurial and urbanised class emerges - the new wealth trickles down to the masses, creating a demand for consumer goods as living standards rise
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Modernisation Theory - 5 Stages to Dev 2 & Critici


  • Rising living standards due to more meritocratic opportunities available for the population to take advantage of
  • The country strengthens its place in the international trading system                                                                                                                                         


  • Industrialised, capitalised and urbanised
  • Economic production and growth are at Western levels 
  • Comfortable lifestyles are based around conspicuous consumption                                                                                                                                                             


  • There are no examples of countries who have successfully gone through all 5 stages 
  • It assumes that Western civilisation is technically and morally superior to traditional societies
  • Dependency theorists would argue that development is not about helping a country to grow, it's about making them easier to exploit
  • MT stresses the importance of aid by Neo-Liberalism highlights the corruption of aid
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Dependency Theory - Andre Gunder Frank


  • Obstables are imposed from the outside of a country
  • Developing countries fail to develop because they are kept in a state of dependency by the West 
  • The development of the West has come about through their exploitation of labour and resources in the developing world
  • Developing countries need to break free from the West in order to develop                                                                                                                                            


  • Slavery helped to kickstart Britain's economic growth in the 18th and 19th centuries - at the expense of the developing world
  • Colonialism locked developing countries into exploitative relationships with the West
  • Colonies were exploited for their cheap labour, food and raw materials
  • Local industries were destroyed or undermined by cheaper Western industries
  • Conflicts between ethnic groups were created as tribes loyal to the colonisers received economic and political rewards
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Dependency Theory - Neo-Colonialism


  • Countries are still exploited economically and politically, despite gaining 'independence', but it's done in a more subtle way:                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  • UNFAIR TRADING RULES: The EU and America spend billions subsidising their own farmers every year so that imports from developing countries look more expensive (e.g. Africa)
  • TIED AID: Aid comes with strings attached - in return for a loan, developing countries might be asked to privatise certain sectors for Western companies to control, which benefits the West (e.g. Bolivia)
  • LAND GRABS: Western companies buy up thousands of hectares of land in Africa with the intention of planting it with food or biofeul crops to export back to the West because it's cheaper that way
  • WESTERN CORPORATIONS: They use their power to negotiate favourable tax deals in the developing world (e.g. Glencore)
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Dependency Theory - Solutions & Criticisms


  • Countries need to escape from the global capitalist system, taking action for themselves rather than relying on outside help
  • Isolation (such as China between 1960s and 2000s) helps a country to focus on building their economy their way
  • Socialist revolution (such as Cuba) helps a country to break free from the capitalist system
  • Import Substitution Industrialisation - allows developing countries to produce consumer goods within their country which would normally be imported from abroad?                                                                                                                                                                              


  • Some countries have benefitted from colonialism as they now have good transport links and communication networks (e.g. India)
  • Modernisation Theory argues that countries have benefitted from TNC investment (e.g. in Korea)
  • Neo-Liberalism argues that it is wrong to blame Western TNCs for dependency when poor governance is really to blame for underdevelopment 
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Neo-Liberalism - New Right


  • Governments prevent development - when governments get too large, they restrict the freedoms of the individuals who drive development forward (like communist regimes did during the Cold War)
  • Even in capitalist countries there are too many restrictions - rules, regulations and taxes so it's harder to do business and for the economy to develop 
  • Neo-Liberalism criticises Western aid because it breeds corruption - corrupt African dictatorships in the 1960s-80s were helped by Western aid because all of the money went into the pockets of government officials not to the people who needed it                                                                                                                             


1. Privatisation: making all businesses private - owned and run by the state
2. Cutting taxes: so that the state plays less of a role in the economy
3. Deregulation: removing restrictions and regulations on businesses and employers involved in world trade. Includes reducing tax on corporate profits and reducing health and safety regulations
4. Fewer protections for workers and the environment: scrapping minimum wages, permanent contracts and allowing companies to hire 'flexible workers' on short term/zero hour contracts

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Neo-Liberalism - Criticisms


  • Countries that have adopted a 'free market' have developed slower than countries who have protected their economies 
  • Dependency Theory argues that neo-liberalism is a way to open up developing countries for exploitation from TNCs
  • TNCs do not invest in unstable countries (e.g. war torn)
  • Progress was higher in the 1960s with restrictive economies that in the 1980s-2000s with neo-liberal economies 
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World Systems Theory - Wallerstein


  • We need to look at the world as whole, rather than just individual countries - this is because the global capitalist system transcends boundaries nationally in pursuit of profit
  • The World System is split into three categories:                                                                                 

1. The core (developed countries)
2. The semi-periphery (BRICs)
3. The periphery (developing countries)                                                                                                                         

  • The periphery provide raw materials for the semi-periphery to manufacture to sell on to the core for mass consumption. The idea is that they all need each other to progress.
  • Wallerstein argues that countries can move up or down within the global capitalist system - it's more flexible. The reason that they can move is because of the dynanism of the capitalist system
  • The central logic to the system is the search for profit. Agents of global capital seek to commidify anything they can, thus new products and services are created, meaning some countries are rich and others are poor
  • Solution to development: tourism - developing countries can hone in on their talents
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People Centred Development


  • Agree with Dependency Theory that some countries are underdeveloped due to a history of exploitation from the West
  • Critical of the role of large institutions in development such as the World Bank and the IMF. They argue that big development projects aimed at increasing the GDP/GNP do not actually help people on the ground
  • They see development as small-scale, diverse and should be aimed at the people living in the country
  • They reject western definitions of 'underdevelopment' - just because a country is more rural, non-industrialised and not trading does not mean that they are inferior                                                                                                                                     


  • Eventually a country will need money if it really wants to improve the lives of people for the long term - this can only come from industrialisation and trade
  • Too relativistic - is it really the case that all cultures have equal values and diverse definitions of development? Should we then accept that patriarchy and FGM are allowed in some countries because that's what they've chosen?
  • In a globalising world it's not realistic to expect developing countries to be able to tackle future problems if they remain underdeveloped
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Just wanted to say i'd be f*cked for global development if it wasn't for this my teacher was hopeless. Really appreciate this, thanks!



Haha glad I could help, you're welcome!

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