Underdevelopment and Dependency Topic 3

Notes on Topic 3 of the Global Development section in A2 Sociology.

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Basics

Frank - developing countries do not fail at modernization because of their own deficiencies but because the West deliberately underdeveloped them in a variety of ways, leaving them in a state of dependency.

Underdeveloped = countries that are not considered "developed" despite having the same amount of resources as some developed countries.

Developed = a specific state of growth or advancement.

The developed world is made up by the metropolis or core nations that exploit the developing world (satellite or peripheral countries) for cheap labour, minerals and fertile tropical soils.

Underdevelopment is a result of development of the core.

Foster-Carter - could be characterised as a landless, rural labourer, who has nothing and no one to exploit and is probably female.  

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Origins of Dependency

Slavery - Britain gained raw materials that provided foundations for industrial expansion e.g. cotton for the textile industry.

Colonialism - benefited the West by...

1. Cheap food, materials and labour

2. Creating new markets

Did not benefit everyone!

1. Local industries undermined by colonial powers

2. Divisions/conflicts between locals and colonial powers

3. Boarders and lack of local government meant when colonialists left there was conflict, largely causing civil wars

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Neo-Colonialism and World Trade

After colonial reign developing countries are dependent on their export earnings of small commodities e.g. tobacco.

Over concentration of primary products/change in the west = low selling price = poverty.

Western nations impose tariffs and quotas on imports to promote home-produced goods, which drives price down to compete with cheap imports.

Sometimes the value of a commodity is decided by external organisations e.g. the London Metal Exchange, which means developing nations have no power over the market.

Inflation in the west forces developing countries to produce more primary products to receive the same amount in manufactured products = overproduction = lowers price further.

Political instability, natural disasters and military conflict can undermine money earned through primary commodities.

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The West and Local Elites

Cardoso - local elites paved the way for the penetration of TNCs into developing countries on favourable terms for Western capitalism and economically benefited.

In extreme cases military forces of these elites have removed threats to foreign interests through violence and repressive powers to ensure the cooperation of the masses.

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Neo-Colonialism; TNCs

WTO set up by rich and powerful nations to reduce trade barriers and to liberalise trade.

TNCs = operate in more than one country, no home base, products are international, seek competitive advantage and max profits by searching for cheapest and most efficient means of production, geographical flexibility and are responsible for 3/4 of world trade.

Half of top 100 economic units are TNCs (not countries).

Examples - Primark accused of using sweatshops

Shell forcibly seized land in Nigeria and "removed" local people from the area

Pakistan building collapse - TNC refuse to take responsibility

Sometimes even try and influence internal politics to benefit themselves

TNCs - crucial aspect of neo-colonial power.

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Dependency Theory and Solutions to Dependency

Dependency theory - stems from Marxism. Concerned with the exploitation of the less powerful, poor majority by a more powerful, wealthy minority.

Wallerstein - core capitalist nations = global bourgeoisie who exploit peripheral nations = global proletariat.

Solutions - 1. Breaking away from dependency e.g. isolation by China.

2. Dependent development through e.g. Import Substitution Industrialisation (ISI) - aim to produce consumer goods domestically. However ISI eventually failed due to the neglect of the issue of class and income distribution; i.e. wealth not shared.

Dependency theory has been used by politicians to stress nationalism, self-reliance and delinking as a means of countering neo-colonialism.

It also provided a different explanation to modernization theory and allowed sociologists to look at different solutions for poverty other than blaming developing countries themselves.

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Case Study - Jamaica

Supports work of Frank.

Elliott and Harvey - Jamaica's development problems will never be solved by policies that ignore the vast inequalities in power arising from Jamaica's political, social and economic history.

Root of modern problems stem from British plantation economy, which resulted in vast inequalities in ownership of land that persists to this day.

To this day the Jamaican economy continues to serve the needs of the ruling class rather than those of the masses.

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Criticisms of Dependency Theory

1. Dependency is difficult to operationalise and measure so it is therefore difficult to define. Myrdal suggests we measure the amount of investment put in the developing world and the profit gained.

2. Oversimplifies the definitions of countries e.g. Canada is technically a "satellite" of the USA but is not considered to be "developing".

3. Investment can sometimes benefit developing countries e.g. Asian Tigers received a lot of Japanese aid but are therefore in debt.

4. Western exploitation allowed by local elites of developing countries.

5. Colonialism provides basic infrastructure. Ethiopia never colonised = face severe problems with development because of the lack of infrastructure.

6. Evans - influence of the core is not always homogeneous but differences in development occur due to differences among local elites, which can explain political regimes, economies and class relationships in peripheral countries.

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World Systems Theory

Wallerstein - response to criticisms of dependency theory.

3 types of capitalist zones (MWS) - the core (developing countries that exploit the rest of the world, e.g. USA)

semi-periphery (some wealth but also poverty, emerging markets and some production, e.g. Brazil)

periphery (poor countries, raw materials, cheap labour and emerging markets, e.g. majority of Africa)

Countries can be upwardly or downwardly mobile in the hierarchy of the MWS - constantly evolving.

MWS will generate so many excluded, poor people who will eventually result in a revolutionary movement.

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Evaluation of World Systems Theory

Too economistic - assumes the economy is driving all other aspects of the system.

Modernists - neglects internal factors e.g. corruption that holds back development.

Abstract theory - cannot be measured/tested.

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Key Words

Colonialism - the take-over and exploitation of countries, usually by means of superior military force.

Commodification - applying an economic value to a range of human activities.

De-skilling - breaking down expensive complex occupational skills into routine and simple tasks.

Dependency - the state of being dependent on more powerful countries through trade, aid, debt, charity, etc.

Imperial - empire-building.

Neo-colonialism - modern form of exploitation of poorer societies by rich societies, which are usually dressed up as beneficial e.g. aid.

Polarization - Marxist idea that the experience of workers will become so alienating that they will see the need for socialist revolution.

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