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Dependency theory: continuities and discontinuities in development studies

  • James A. Caporaso




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1 Wallerstein, Immanuel, “Modernization: Requiescat in Pace,” in The Uses of Controversy in Sociology, Coser, Lewis A. and Larsen, Otto N., eds. (New York: The Free Press, 1976), pp. 131–35.

2 Smith, Tony, “The Underdevelopment of Development Literature: The Case of Dependency Theory,” World Politics, XXXI, 2 (01 1979): 247–88.

3 Ibid., p. 257.

4 Frank, Andre Gunder, “Sociology of Development and Underdevelopment of Sociology,” in Latin America: Underdevelopment or Revolution? (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1969), pp. 2194; and Frank, Andre Gunder, Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America: Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967).

5 This book is not new and the 1978 date applies only to the English translation. The book was written between 1965 and the first months of 1967. It was published in 1971 under the title,Dependencia y desarrollo en Americana Latina (Siglo Veintiuno Editors, SA, 1971). The English version is an expanded and amended version of the Spanish edition. Obviously, Peter Evans has read and profited from the writings of Cardoso and Faletto.

6 A small but important literature on newly industrializing countries is beginning to emerge. From the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), two works are notable: The Impact of the Newly Industrializing Countries on Production and Trade in Manufactures, Report by the Secretary-General (Paris: OECD, 1979), and Facing the Future: Mastering the Probable and Managing the Unpredictable, prepared by Interfutures Group, (Paris: OECD, 1979), see especially part IV on the “Advanced Industrial Societies and the Third World.” The World Bank has published some relevant papers also. See The Changing International Division of Labor in Manufactured Goods,” World Bank Staff Working Paper, prepared by Bela Balassa (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1979) and Keesing, Donald B., “World Trade and Output of Manufactures: Structural Trends and Developing Countries' Exports,” (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1978). From a very different perspective, that of an evolving division of labor serving the needs of the capitalist center, see Worm, Kirsten, ed., Industrialization, Development and the Demands for a New International Economic Order (Copenhagen, Denmark: Samfundsvidenskabeligt Forlag, 1978); and Fröbel, Folker, Heinrichs, Jürgen and Kreye, Otto, Die Neue Internationale Arbeitsteilung (Hamburg: Rororo Aktuell, 1977).

7 For an excellent book of this genre, see Friedrich, Carl J., Constitutional Government and Democracy (Boston: Ginn and Co., 1950, revised ed.).

8 Almond, Gabriel A. and Coleman, James S., eds., The Politics of the Developing Areas (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1960); and Almond, Gabriel and Powell, G. Bingham, Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach (Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Co., 1966).

9 Morawetz, David, Twenty Five Years of Economic Development, 1950 to 1975. (Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977), p. 11.

10 Parsons, Talcott, The Social System (New York: Free Press, 1951) and Parsons, Talcott, “Evolutionary Universals in Society,” in Sociological Theory and Modern Society, Parsons, Talcott, eds. (New York: Free Press, 1967), pp. 490520. Marion J. Levy, The Structure of Society and Levy, , Modernization and the Structure of Society (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966).

11 LaPalombara, Joseph and Weiner, Myron, eds., Political Parties and Political Development (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966).

12 LaPalombara, Joseph, ed., Bureaucracy and Political Development (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1963).

13 Pye, Lucien W., ed., Communications and Political Development (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967).

14 For a statement of the crisis approach, along with its relationship to historical sequences, see Binder, Leonard, Coleman, James S. et al. , Crises and Sequences in Political Development (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1971).

15 The primary exception to this generalization is the book by Almond, Gabriel A., Flanagan, Scott C., and Mundt, Robert J., Crisis, Choice, and Change: Historical Studies of Political Development (Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Co., 1973). In the introductory essay in this volume, Professor Almond outlines five phases of a system's development and suggests a distinct conceptual approach for each. He suggests the systems-functional approach for the first phase while later phases, characterized by crises, call for a choice or decision-theoretic perspective (pp. 24–25). While this formulation does not establish a theoretical integration between the concepts of crisis and function, it does promote a broad historical sequencing of them.

16 Relevant literature includes Lerner, Daniel, The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1963), McClelland, David, The Achieving Society (Princeton, N. J.: Van Nostrand, 1961); and Inkeles, Alex and Smith, Davis A., Becoming Modern: Individual Change in Six Developing Countries (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974).

17 Maine, Henry, Ancient Law: Its Connection with the Early History of Society and Its Relation to Modern Ideas (N.Y.: Dutton, 1965); Spencer, Herbert, Social Statics, or the Conditions Essential to Human Happiness (New York: Appleton, 1893); Comte, August, The Positive Philosophy of History (London: George Bell and Sons, 1894); and Durkheim, Emile, The Division of Labor in Society (N.Y.: Free Press, 1964).

18 For a review of some of this literature see Portes, Alejandro, “On the Sociology of National Development: Theories and Issues,” American Journal of Sociology, 82, 1 (1977): 6162.

19 My colleague Peter Van Ness has pointed out to me that perhaps this state of affairs is not so curious, given that the cluster of variables under the label imperialism did not exist for many of these authors.

20 Gerschenkron, Alexander, Economic Development in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1962); Moore, Barrington Jr, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1966).

21 Cardoso had by this time written an important essay with a similar title—see Cardoso, Fernando H., “Associated-Dependent Development: Theoretical and Practical Implications,” in Authoritarian Brazil: Origins, Policies, Future, Stepan, Alfred, ed. (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1973).

22 Smith, Tony, “The Underdevelopment of Development Literature: The Case of Dependency Theory,” World Politics, XXXI, 2 (01 1979): 248.

23 Ibid., p. 257.

24 I do not mean to imply that no fruitful work on the theory of the state has been done. Some excellent analyses have been provided. See Miliband, Ralph, The State in Capitalist Society (N.Y.: Basic Books, 1969); Wright, Erik Olin, Class, Crisis, and the State (London: New Left Books, 1978); O'Connor, James, The Fiscal Crisis of the State (N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1973); Lindberg, Leon N., Alford, Robert et al. , Stress and Contradiction in Modern Capitalism: Public Policy and the Theory of the State (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath and Co., 1975); Poulantzas, Nicos, Political Power and Social Classes (London: New Left Books, 1973); and Poulantzas, Nicos, Classes in Contemporary Capitalism (London: New Left Books, 1975).

25 Aristotle's Metaphysics, translated with commentaries by Apostel, Hippocrates G. (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1966).

26 Nisbet, Robert A., Social Change and History: Aspects of the Western Theory of Development (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), pp. 3031.

27 Binder, Leonard, “Crises of Political Development,” in Binder, Leonard, Coleman, James S. et al. , Crises and Sequences in Political Development (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1971), p. 16.

28 For a discussion of this concept see Gereffi, Gary, “Theories of Societal Development: An Overview,” mimeo (01 1979), pp. 38.

29 The first three of these patterns are discussed by Gereffi, ibid.

30 Sorokin, Pitirim A., Sociocultural Causality, Space, Time (N.Y.: Russell and Russell, Inc., 1964), p. 159. For a lucid statement of the Newtonian views of time, see Reichenbach, Hans, The Philosophy of Space and Time, translated by Reichenbach, Maria and Freund, John (N.Y.: Dover Publications, 1958).

31 This kind of time is close to Sorokin's sociocultural time; see Sorokin, ibid., pp. 158–226.

32 Sorokin, ibid., p. 159.

33 Przeworski, Adam and Teune, Henry, The Logic of Comparative Social Inquiry (New York: John Wiley and Sons Inc., 1970).

34 Przeworski and Teune, ibid., p. 25.

35 The degrees of freedom problem is not just a statistical concern but one that is rooted in all inductive inferences. The general problem arises when there are several explanations to account for an observed phenomenon but where the set of observations (cases or time points) is inadequate to discriminate among competing interpretations. This problem is likely to be especially severe in the social sciences where, in addition to the predominance of multicausal explanations, social phenomenon are likely to be affected by rare conjunctions of variables in an interactive rather than additive way. For example, in an additive world, if there are five variables thought to affect a phenomenon of interest, there are only five competing explanations. In an interative world, there are 120 separate explanations (5 factorial). The data base necessary to discriminate among these would have to be quite large.

36 I borrow this term from Herring, Ronald J., “Structural Determinants of Development Choices: Sri Lanka's Struggle with Democracy,” mimeo, (05 1979), pp. 23.

37 A weak point of theories of international inequality based on properties of the exchange system—e.g., the terms of trade argument—is that they predict changes in relative positions depending on changes in supply and demand, availability of substitutes and partners, and bar-gaining positions. Given the flux along these lines, one would expect dependency reversals to be a relatively common occurrence.


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