Dependency Theory

French Marxist converged mode of production with the an analysis of dependency theory of global economics (Wilk and Cliggett 2007). The developed largely out of the Economic Commission on Latin America and is primarily focused on  the notion that resources flow from a “periphery” of poor and underdeveloped countries  to a “core” of wealthier ones(Roseberry 1988). This was a product of a dominate philosophy concerning economic development called modernization theory. Modernization theory stated that their was a single path form primitive to a modern state and a each country had to follow this pathway of economic change (Wilk and Cliggett 2007). This idea was that developed and underdeveloped countries are structurally connected. This process of development on one area requires a process of underdevelopment in another (Roseberry 1988).

This notions of modernization theory did not last long among dependency theorist (Roseberry 1988). At first, many thought that a county undergoing modernization could end up in a state of “dualism”, that is that developed and underdeveloped countries could co-exist in prosperously. The observation mad by dependency theories, was that the process to reach this prosperous co-existence was taking way too long. In fact, many began to question this notion (Wilk and Cliggett 2007; Roseberry 1988). Pual Baran (1957) argued that developed counties were in fact blocking these underdeveloped nations from growing out of the Third World. This was being accomplished through the systematic draining of raw materials and surplus goods from poorer nations, thereby, creating a dependency and poverty(Wilk and Cliggett 2007).

When Andre Frank applied this theory of dependency to Latin American history and culture, he found that nations , in their entirety, were made impoverish by capitalism and colonialism. In other words, the development of underdevelopment. Therefore, the labels of “traditional” society stamped by anthropologist were just products of capitalism and peripheral (Wilk and Cliggett 2007). Unfortunately, much of the original arguments and the entire range of dependency theory did not reach the United States in entirety until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s (Roseberry 1988)

Notable Proponent

Andre Gunder Frank

AndreFrank was born in Berlin on February 24, 1929. He was and economics professor and one of the founders of ‘Dependence theory’. In his more recent work before he died, he focused  on the analysis of the crisis in world economy and  on global world history. He was educated at the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. in Economics in 1957 ( Monthly Review 2005). His two books became fundamental on the development of dependency theory in Latin America (Roseberry 1988)

References Cited

Monthly Review
2005       Andre Gunder Frank’s Professional Biography. Electronic document, accessed April 20, 2012.
Roseberry, William
1988       Political Economy. Annual Review of Anthropology 17:161-185.
Wilk, Richard R. and Lisa C. Cliggett
2007       Economies and Cultures: Foundations of Economic Anthropology. Second Ed. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.


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