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Assignment name: Module 1 Reflection Paper
Name: Moa Larsson
Handed in: 2018-09-21 10:57
Generated at: 2018-10-03 01:28

Lund University Fall 2018 LUMID MIDA11 International Development Perspectives Moa Larsson 910322-0100

Moa Larsson LUMID 910322-0100 MIDA11 !!1!Introduction To understand development, this paper presents dependency theory as an important approach recognizing the polarization of development of the worlds countries and the cultural legacy of colonization, answering the question of why some countries remain underdeveloped (Veltmeyer & Bowles, 2018: 7-8). While arguing that this theoretical approach is useful compared to the mainstream modernization theory, this paper will also take on a critical approach, questioning the dichotomous framework of dependency theory with the need of a transformed understanding of development. Lastly, a conclusion summarizing the paper’s arguments will be presented. Dependency Theory Revealing unequal power relations The unequal relations and structures of imperialism, despite the process of decolonization, persist today creating a relationship of dependency between developed and developing countries. From a dependency theory perspective where the underdeveloped periphery is dependent on the core, therefore, the process of development of the developing countries is understood in their relations with the advanced capitalist countries (Kay, 2018: 77). The dependency theory arose as a critique of modernization theory, through which development is understood from a perspective of western countries (Harris, 2005: 20-21), i.e. the core from a dependency theory point of view. With a one-model-fits-all perspective, modernization was argued to be an immanent process, hence a promise of capitalist development (So, 1990: 35). For example, Walt Witham Rostow’s five stages of economic growth is presented as a universal model, a process which all countries will go through in their transition to a modern society (Menzel, 2006: 213). Dependency theory questions the promise of modernization since some countries remain underdeveloped. By dividing the countries of the world into core and periphery, the relationship of dependency highlights the social heritage and persisting structures of colonialism, which is the strength and great importance of the theory. Interestingly, some dependency theorists argue that this interdependent relationship favours the core at the expense of the periphery, especially in the unequal relations of trade, creating a gap between the developed and developing countries (Kay, 2018: 74, 77-78). In a similar notion, Paul Collier (2008: 3-5) states that the gap between the bottom billion, referring to the poorest countries in the world concentrated at large in former colonies, and the capitalist developed countries is increasing. Arguably, the periphery is trapped in its underdevelopment as a consequence of global capitalism, hence a development process which favours the core, leaving the bottom billion behind. This trap mirrors the ‘development of underdevelopment’ argument within dependency theory, declaring the inability of the periphery to develop in a dependent relationship. Since the unequal relations of trade creates a polarization of core and periphery, keeping the latter underdeveloped, should a solution be that of economic de-growth? Although de-growth responds to the limits of growth dilemma, it can be analysed from a dependency perspective. As the relationship of dependency creates a gap of inequality, de-growth would entail the reduction of the developed countries consumption and economic gain, focusing on

Moa Larsson LUMID 910322-0100 MIDA11 !!2!the economic development and well-being of the developing countries (Redclift, 2017: 702). Then again, the interdependent relationship favours the developed countries, therefore de-growth and consequently the disconnection of the core from the relationship of dependency is not probable. Whereas the modernist process of development translates to an imperialistic civilization mission by western countries, the dependency school emphasize the need of the periphery to overcome dependency by delinking itself from the world economy to achieve independence (Munck, 2018: 58-59). Hence, compared to de-growth, this view relies on the capacity of the periphery. The theory’s analytical and practical utility can be criticised though, viewing the relationship of dependency from a macro-perspective, a general process applicable to the periphery as a whole (So, 1990: 104), which should make an analysis of a specific case problematic. But proponents of dependency theory have done empirical studies on the impact of colonialism. For example, researches have analysed the debt trap of oil rich Mexico. In order to finance oil export, Mexico began to borrow money from western banks, a debt that increased as the oil prices dropped. This put western countries in a dominant position, as Mexico’s foreign debt expanded and the western banks control over the country tightened (Ibid.:117-118). What’s interesting is that the example demonstrates that dependency theory can be useful in analysing trade relations between specific countries or regions. But one consequence of the theory’s universal perspective is that it lacks concrete solutions, as a solution for Mexico might not be applicable on another case. Dependency theory discard national variations, but there are most likely a variety of different relationship of dependency, with varied capacity of the periphery when it comes to self-reliance and delinking itself from the dominant countries (Munck, 2018: 420; So, 1990: 104-106). A broadened understanding In challenging modernization theory, dependency theory has proven to be of great importance. Although it criticises modernization for its standardised measures, one could argue that dependency theory is too overarching. When asking what development should entail and for whom, it can be criticised for its general and dichotomous nation-state framework and economic focus (Munck, 2018: 420). Several theories and scholars have come to challenge the meaning of development, promoting a broadened and more inclusive understanding (Harriss, 2005: 36-37). While dependency theory focus on economic relations between core and periphery (Veltmeyer & Bowles, 2018: 4), other views on development have come to include several other important factors. According to Amartya Sen (2001: 10), development is understood in terms of freedom, freedoms which will expand the capability of a person. Sen argues for the need of freedoms such as, e.g., transparency guarantees and social opportunities. In a similar notion, the UNDPs annual Human Development Report (HDR) includes, besides income, both life expectancy and education as parameters when measuring human well-being. UNDPs HDR also compares ranking by human development index (HDI) and GNI per capita. The report of 2016 shows that while a high income country like the United Arab Emirates has a high GNI rank, it doesn’t correspond to their rank in human development, giving the country

Moa Larsson LUMID 910322-0100 MIDA11 !!3!a score of -35 when subtracting their HDI rank from the GNI per capita rank (UNDP, 2016: 197-198). Therefore, understanding development in terms of social and human well-being, the dependency theory seems insufficient in analysing the development of both developed and underdeveloped countries. Dependency theory has also been criticised for its nation-state focus, hence creating an all compassing narrative which overlooks the local and every-day lives of people (Munck, 2018:420). As discussed earlier, dependency creates a trap, a development of underdevelopment. Although dependency theory is very much interesting in advancing this power relationship, the nation-state focus is problematic. A feminist or gender approach on this poverty or development trap reveals other structures, accentuating the effect of the dependent trade-off for women, e.g. domestic violence within poor households (Kabeer, 2018: 180-181). At the same time, dependency theory’s focus on unequal relations and structures of imperialism interestingly lingers in some gender studies. Ilan Kapoor (2015: 1614-1616) writes about the discursive queering of the third world by western countries, presenting the third world as perverse and abnormal. This binary creation of ‘us’ and ‘them’ legitimized colonial domination, and Kapoor argues that these structures of colonial queering have endured. Understanding development as a process towards western modernity, the third world is dependent upon the developed countries in terms of, e.g., aid. In this way, the developed countries can legitimize disciplining of the queer third world. Like dependency theory, Kapoor describes how the dominant countries gain from this relationship, while the periphery is being punished. Although challenging theories have transformed our understanding of development, the main features of dependency theory can also be found in postcolonial theory which shares the same historical concerns and elucidates western power and eurocentrism (Biccum, 2002: 38). Conclusion To summarize this critical review, the usefulness of dependency theory is that it exposes structures that are important for our understanding of development. As the capitalist developed countries gain from the relationship of dependency, it creates a development of underdevelopment. While highlighting this power-relation is most interesting, the analysis questions the theory’s utility and lack of concrete solutions as it overlooks national variety as well as local aspects. If a country lacks the capacity of delinking itself from the dominant core, will it remain trapped in its underdevelopment? But then again, questioning who should have the power to move development forward – maybe it is the periphery? Putting aside the discussed financial debts, one could argue that the developed countries have an ‘imperialistic debt’ to the periphery. From a dependency perspective, the question is how a country with no capacity would move development forward? The transformation of development has also been lifted. The fact that economic development doesn’t have to reflect human development and the well-being of individuals tells us that development needs to move away from its focus on economism and the nation-state. What’s interesting with this theory is that, although one could argue that dependency might be outdated because of a wider understanding of development, the historical structures of unequal power-relations within dependency theory lives on.

Moa Larsson LUMID 910322-0100 MIDA11 !!4!References Biccum, A. R. (2002). Interrupting the Discourse of Development: On a Collision Course with Postcolonial Theory, Culture, Theory and Critique, 43(1), 33-50. Collier, P. (2008). The Bottom Billion. Why the Porest Countries are Failing and What can be done about it. New York: Oxford University Press. Harriss, J. (2005). Great promise, hubris and recovery: a participant’s history of development studies. In U. Kothari (Ed.), A radical history of development studies: Individuals, institutions and ideologies (pp. 19-44). London: Zed Books Kabeer, N. (2018). Poverty analysis through a gender lens: a brief history of feminist contributions in international development. In H. Veltmeyer & P. Bowles (Eds.), The Essential Guide to Critical Development Studies (pp. 179-188). London and New York: Routledge Kapoor, I. (2015). The Queer Third World, Third World Quarterly, 36(9), 1611-1628. Kay, C. (2018). Development theory: the Latin America pivot. In H. Veltmeyer & P. Bowles (Eds.), The Essential Guide to Critical Development Studies (pp. 73-83). London and New York: Routledge Menzel, U. (2006). WALT WHITMAN ROSTOW. In D. Simon (Ed.), Fifty Key Thinkers on Development (pp. 211-217). New York: Routledge Munck, R. (2018). Critical development theory: results and prospects. In H. Veltmeyer & P. Bowles (Eds.), The Essential Guide to Critical Development Studies (pp. 51-60). London and New York: Routledge Munck, R. (2018). Rethinking Latin America: towards new development paradigms. In H. Veltmeyer & P. Bowles (Eds.), The Essential Guide to Critical Development Studies (pp. 417-425). London and New York: Routledge Redclift, M. (2018). Sustainable Development in the Age of Contradictions, Development and Change, 49(3), 695–707. Sen, A. (2001). Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press. So, A.Y. (1990). Social Change and Development: Modernisation, Dependency and WorldSystem Theories. London: Sage UNDP. (2016). Human Development Report 2016, Retrieved from Veltmeyer, H. & Bowles, P. (2018). Critical development studies: an introduction. In H. Veltmeyer & P. Bowles (Eds.), The Essential Guide to Critical Development Studies (pp. 1-27). London and New York: Routledge