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Dependency & World Systems Theory

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Gerard Downes

on 19 February 2013

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Transcript of Dependency & World Systems Theory

Sees globalisation in terms of the spread of market capitalism, and the exploitation of cheap labour and resources in return for the (obsolete) technologies of the West. Drive Phase 1 Phase 2 Results Core Dependency theory advocated an inward looking approach to development and an increased role for the state in terms of imposing barriers to trade and promoting nationalisation of key industries.

Import Substitution Industrialisation (ISI) Became popular in the 1960’s as a response to research by Argentinian economist Raul Prebisch.

Prebisch found that increases in the wealth of the richer nations appeared to be at the expense of the poorer ones. The predominant view of dependency theorists is that there is a dominant world capitalist system that relies on a division of labour between the rich 'core' countries and poor 'peripheral' countries.

Over time, the core countries will exploit their dominance over an increasingly marginalised periphery. Dependency is largely a result of the flow of economic surplus from developing countries to western capitalist countries

Walter Rodney (1973):
Africa was deliberately exploited and underdeveloped by European colonists The political economy of the periphery had been totally restructured by western colonialism to meet the needs of core countries, thereby leading to the periphery's underdevelopment

Dependency is regional polarization of the global economy -- underdevelopment in the periphery countries and development in the core countries are two aspects of a single process of capital accumulation Defines the nature of the relationship between the ‘North’ and ‘South’ as dependency based upon political/economic/cultural/technological dominance of the core countries and inequality exchange between periphery and core countries; Investment in education and health
Increasing productivity of small farms
Improving infrastructure (for example, roads)
Developing an industrial policy to promote manufacturing
Promoting democracy and human rights
Ensuring environmental protection
The World Bank recommends focus on 6 areas of policy: The 2005 Human Development Report displayed findings of women’s rising roles in the world.
While women in certain parts of the world do not enjoy full equality to men in terms of political, civil, and cultural rights, their status is improving.
The Report emphasizes equality between the sexes to be a main staple of human development. What accounts for underdevelopment? Lack of empowerment of women? “The Mystery of Capital among the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon” Watch Hernando de Soto explain property rights in this documentary film
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdQeyeYHMtU
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db4HbiVvfmA
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHK3htDOY_k Economic historian David Landes in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor (1998), maintains that cultural factors such as religion have powerfully affected the pace of development

For example, the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century promoted and spread literacy through reading of the Bible What accounts for underdevelopment? Culture? What accounts for underdevelopment? Geography?
Techniques of cereal cultivation also spread rapidly to North Africa

However, the hostile climate of sub-Saharan Africa meant that these techniques could not transfer into southern Africa According to Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel (1997), the primary factor is geography:
The Eurasian landmass is geographically oriented from east to west.
Much of this landmass is in the same climatic region. For this reason, phenomena such as the spread of cereal cultivation was able to take hold on this landmass in a (historically) short period of time, i.e. over 2,500 years. What accounts for underdevelopment? Geography? Three Core Values of Development
Sustenance: The Ability to Meet Basic Needs


Self-Esteem: To Be a Person


Freedom from Servitude: To Be Able to Choose 2) Policy related and evaluative or indicator led, is based on value judgements, and has short- to medium-term time horizons – e.g. development as the MDGs.

‘Has a much more instrumental element which is likely to be favoured by practitioners within the development community, notably in international development agencies’ (Sumner and Tribe, 2007: 13) Sumner and Tribe (2007):
3 discernable definitions of ‘development’
1) Historical and long term – ‘development’ as a process of structural societal change. Sumner and Tribe (2007):
3 discernable definitions of ‘development’ Dudley Seers, 1969: 24 Important questions to ask:

What has been happening to poverty?

What has been happening to unemployment?

What has been happening to inequality? Dudley Seers (Developmental Economist)
Even if a country’s per capita income has soared it is necessary to examine other important determinants to account for development. H.W. Arndt (1987 : 1)
‘Anyone who asked articulate citizens in developed and developing countries what they meant by this desirable objective of “development” would get a great variety of answers… (including the following examples): Higher living standards. A rising per capita income. Increase in productive capacity. Mastery over nature. Freedom through control of man's environment. Economic growth. But not mere growth, growth with equity. Elimination of poverty. Basic needs satisfaction. Catching up with the developed countries in technology, wealth, power, status. Economic independence, self-reliance. Scope for self-fulfilment for all. Liberation, the means to human ascent.’

‘Development, in the vast literature on the subject, appears to have come to encompass almost all facets of the good society, everyman's road to utopia.’ H.W. Arndt (1987 : 1) The question “what is development?” provokes a great variety of answers


‘Almost all facets of the good society, an everyman’s guide to utopia’. Alan Thomas (2004: 1,2) Development as a concept has been contested both theoretically and politically,
Development is complex and ambiguous.

Recently [development] has taken on the limited meaning of the practice of development agencies, especially in aiming at reducing poverty and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ‘The question of “what is development?” represents the greatest intellectual challenge of my academic career’-FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, 2010. What is development?

This question has polarised opinion among scholars in the social sciences for decades. ‘Allowing the developing countries to adopt the policies (and institutions) that are more suitable to their stages of development and to other conditions they face will enable them to grow faster, as indeed it did during the 1960s and the 1970s. This will benefit not only the developing countries but also the developed countries in the long run, as it will increase the trade and investment opportunities available to the developed countries in the developing countries. That the developed countries are not able to see this is the tragedy of our time.’ Ha Joon Chang (2003:14) Ha Joon-Chang (2002) argues that virtually all of today’s developed countries actively used interventionist trade and industrial policies aimed at promoting and protecting their “infant industries” but, under global trade rules, are not prepared to allow developing countries use similar strategies today What accounts for underdevelopment?
‘Kicking Away The Ladder’ Development

Refers to the process of making a progress toward some sort of improvement in terms of economic productivity, social well-being, quality of life, and political structures and institutions

Is this sufficient as a definition of development? 3) Post-modernist, drawing attention to the ethnocentric and ideologically loaded Western conceptions of ‘development’ and raising the possibilities of alternative conceptions. Sumner and Tribe (2007):
3 discernable definitions of ‘development’ Dudley Seers, 1969: 24 ‘The questions to ask about a country’s development are therefore: What has been happening to poverty? What has been happening to unemployment? What has been happening to inequality? If all of these three have become less severe, then beyond doubt this has been a period of development for the country concerned […] If one or two of these central problems have been growing worse, especially if all three have, it would be strange to call the result “development”, even if per capita income has soared’
Listen here to Francis Fukuyma’s lecture on the topic “What is Development?” at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), John Hopkins University (May, 2010):

http://legacy2.sais-jhu.edu/media/april10/frankfukuyama042910.mp3 “What is Development?”

While “development” is a word which has been used casually, the concept of development is extraordinarily complex What is Development? Module Title: DEVELOPMENT THEORY AND PRACTICE
Introductory Lecture: What is Development?
Monday, January 7th, 2013.
Dr Gerard Downes Master’s in International Development Practice (MIDP)    In The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (2000) Hernando de Soto agues that the secret to development is the structure of private property rights
Weakness of legal structures and institutions What accounts for underdevelopment? Property Rights? Dependency
Theory & World
Systems Theory Emerged as a critique of Modernization Theory
Maintains that ‘Third World’ countries are poor because of their incorporation into the Western-dominated capitalist world system (see Randall and Theobald, 1998)
Divides the world into ‘core’ and ‘periphery’ countries; Dependency is seen as a general process applicable to all developing countries;

Dependency is understood to be an external condition, imposed by the historical experience of colonialism and the perpetuation of the international division of labour
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