Assess The Value Of Dependency Theory In

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Assess The Value Of Dependency Theory In Explaining Social Inequalities In Africa Essay, Research Paper Public and intellectual concern with economic growth and social transformation can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks, but the idea of development as a specific domain of inquiry and state intervention is of relatively recent origin (Watts, 1993). Indeed, the term ‘development’ only came into the English language in the Eighteenth Century. Its root meaning was of unfolding, but a metaphorical extension of this idea was soon in place, extending its meaning to growth. `The theory of development is of European origin and so it was only with the onset of colonialism that it began to take on global implications. The colonial powers rapidly exported the concept to all parts

of the world however, interpreting development as becoming more and more like the Mother Country. In this way, the colonial powers used the idea of development as a way to justify their imperialistic actions: ‘By the Nineteenth Century, the central thesis of developmentalism as a linear theory of progress rooted in Western capitalist hegemony was cast in stone.’ `(Watts, 1993) In Africa therefore, the notion of ‘development’ has only a relatively short history, with development programmes only being set up late this century. The true implications of the concept are still being realised however. It is only since the 1980s that Western thought has really cast a critical eye over exactly what development has achieved and begun to look at the alternatives. This reappraisal

has been encouraged by the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, which undermined faith in the power of the Capitalist model, since instead of producing a single model of capitalist democracy, it created ‘a new world disorder’ (Anderson, 1992). This acted as an illustration that the world’s economic system is not evolving as many people once thought it would – that is, slowly incorporating all underdeveloped countries into the capitalist mode of production which, it was suggested, would of benefit to everyone. Many attacks have now been made on the applicability of ‘development’ ideology in the Third World context. For instance, Kothari (1988) suggested that the ideology behind ‘development’ is neo-colonial: ‘…where colonialism left off,

development took over.’ Sorj (1991) attacked the negative attitudes engendered by the concept of ‘development’, by suggesting that it is the ’sociology of the non-existent’; while Sachs (1992) suggests that it is the development process itself which is most damaging, calling it ‘a universalising discourse of westernization’.`Dependency Theory The ‘development’ issue has therefore become a full-scale argument in recent years. Dependency Theory, as one branch of ‘development’ ideology, has been one of the main elements of this discourse. Dependency theory emerged from research by Frank who looked at the Latin American experience. It was his reaction to the numerous theories and models which emphasised that the development process is an evolutionary one, with

the implication therefore that the Developing World would ‘grow out of it’. The fact that Africa is disadvantaged by the present world market was deemed unimportant, as it was assumed that this would be a temporary situation which could be remedied by the development process. `Dependency theory refuted this idea. The incorporation of Africa into the world market, as colonialism progressed, had not had the desired effect of improving living standards in Africa. Instead, it had simply undermined Africa’s self-sufficiency, ensuring that Africa could no longer survive without the world market. Dependency Theory explained this situation by suggesting that ‘development’ and ‘underdevelopment’ are not stages of development, but are instead opposite sides of the same coin.