According to dependency theory, countries become more dependent upon more powerful,
frequently colonial powers, as a result of interaction and ‘development’. As the more
powerful country exploits the resources of its weaker colony, the colony becomes
dependent upon the stronger power. Goods fl ow from the colony to support consumers in
the overseas country.
Andre Frank (1971) described the effect of capitalist development on many countries as
‘the development of underdevelopment’. The problem of poor countries is not that they lack
the resources, technical know-how, modern institutions or cultural developments that lead
to development, but that they are being ...view middle of the document...
The developmentalism school assumed that:
• each country was economically and politically free (autonomous)
• all countries follow the same route to development.
Developmentalism suggested that what happened in North America and Europe was best
and would automatically happen elsewhere, which is not necessarily the case.
According to Wallerstein, the capitalist world system has three main characteristics:
• a global market
• many countries, which allow political and economic competition
• three tiers of countries.
The tiers are defined as core, largely MEDCs, the periphery, which can be identified with
LEDCs, and the semi-periphery. The semi-periphery refers to countries where there are
class struggles and social change, such as Latin America in the 1980s and eastern Europe
in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It also includes the NICs where large-scale economic
growth has occurred. Some of these NICs, notably China, India and Brazil, may be
superpowers in the future.
Wallerstein argued that capitalist development led to cycles of growth and stagnation. One
of these cycles is a long-term economic cycle known as a Kondratieff cycle. This identifies
cycles of depression at roughly 50- to 60-year intervals. The last two were in the 1920–
30s and the late 1980s. Stagnation is important for the restructuring of the world system
and allows the semi-periphery to become involved in the development process. Indeed, the
recent financial crises may see some mini-superpowers emerging, notably the oil-rich Gulf
States, with their vast financial resources. According to the world systems approach, capitalism includes feudalism and socialism.
They are extreme variations on the division of labour. As the world develops and changes,
there will either be a swing towards a more...