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Modernization Theory and Dependence Theory Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 1561 words Published: 11th Jan 2018

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In this day and age the rapid development of the word and the growing assimilation of countries can hardly fail to affect the development of new theories which attempt to explain the relationship between countries and the existing inequality between developed countries and countries of the third world. Two theories which analyze the development in third world countries are the modernization theory and the dependence theory. These two theories, while being rather different, still have several similarities in their views on the modern world and relationships between developed and developing countries.

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As Alvin So explained, there are three chief and historical essentials which were constructive to the foundation of the modernization theory of development after the Second World War.First, the United States rose as a superpower.While other Western nations, such as Great Britain, France, and Germany, were undermined by World War II, the United States came out of the war stronger then before, and became a world leader with the execution of the Marshall Plan to reconstruct Western Europe.[2]Second, the idea of communist began to move throughout the world.What was once the Soviet Union spread its influence to Eastern Europe, China, and Korea.Third, there was the breakdown ofEuropean colonial empires in Asia, Africa and Latin America, creating numerous new nation-states in the Third World.These budding nation-states began searching for a form of development to support their economy and to improve their political independence. The modernization theory’s intellectual lineage has been traced back to Aristotle. Aristotle first recommended that states, just as plants, went through a natural pattern of growth. Just like Aristotle, Americans in the early Republic assumed that if societies grow in a natural manner, they must also perish. The thought that the progression of human development could be understood and controlled dates to the early nineteenth century, when France and Britain were struggling to bring back their trade empires. Since then it has tended to reappear at times and places where systems of dominance required explanation and rationalization.

The modernization theory looks at the internal factors of a country with the assumption that, with aid, “traditional” countries can be developed in the same way more developed countries have. The modernization theory tries to recognize the social variables which cause social growth and development of societies, and then tries to explain the social evolution. In order for a country to have a profitable, sophisticated, modern economy the country must follow a pattern of development. This is a very systematic theory as it means do one thing and another will happen. In order for this to happen, there need to be prerequisites for takeoff that will lead to takeoff in which will lead to mass-consumption(Mahler 45). A missing component of this theory is that the modernization theory assumes all countries will follow the set path to development. There are actually numerous variables in which will affect a states’ ability to in fact develop. An example of this is the fact that Mexico is geographically designed in a way that will cause it to have a weak economy due to the deserts, forests, and mountains. This makes it so that only 12% of the land is arable. The fact that there are no major rivers doesn’t help either. These issues all help to making it tricky for Mexico to develop because it restrains transportation, which in turn weakens the possibility of exporting and importing goods in a proficient manner.Another problem with the modernization theory is that it assumes that all states have the necessary preconditions to develop. This is not true as many states do not have proper leaders and government. The explanation for this is that if a state is controlled by weak leadership, it will in turn influence its ability to develop. For example, Saddam Hussein, made it so that his country could not develop because he took all of the wealth for himself. Perhaps, if Hussein had spread the wealth throughout his country, this will have helped education and increased invention. This could have made it so that his country developed in a more efficient manner.

One policy implication the modernization theory suggests is that the third world countries should look up to the developed western nations, while the Western countries should pass on more modern values, institutions, technology, and financial investment to the Third World countries. Another implication is that in order for the third worlds to develop, they should be moving along the path that the United States has traveled, hence move away from the ideas of communism. (READING)

A theory in which is opposed to the Modernization model which was created largely as a response to it is the Dependency theory. Dependency theories developed in opposition to the optimistic claims of modernizationtheory which saw the less developed countries being able to catch up with the West. They stressed that Western societies had an interest in maintaining their advantaged position in relation to the LDCs and had the financial and technical wherewithal to do so. A variety of different accounts of the relationship between the advanced and less developed states evolved within the broad framework of dependency theory, ranging from the stagnationism and ‘surplus drain’ theory of Andre Gunder Frank (which predicted erroneously that the Third World would be unable to achieve significant levels ofindustrialization), to the more cautious pessimism of those who envisaged a measure of growth based on ‘associated dependent’ relations with the West.

The major contribution to dependency theory was undoubtedly that of Frank, a German economist of development who devised and popularized the phrase ‘the development of underdevelopment’, describing what he saw as the deformed and dependent economies of the peripheral states-in his terminology the ‘satellites’ of the more advanced ‘metropolises’. InCapitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America(1969), he argued that the Third World was doomed to stagnation because the surplus it produced was appropriated by the advanced capitalist countries, through agencies such as transnational corporations. Frank himself insisted that growth could only be achieved by severing ties with capitalism and pursuing autocentric socialist development strategies.

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According to the dependency theory, the Global North exploits the Global South. One reason for this is that the south is highly dependent on the wealth of the north; therefore unable to advance themselves because of the vicious cycle that then ensues. An example of this vicious cycle can begin with a country being very poor and/or economically unstable. They then allow a multinational corporation to set up camp in one of their cities. This leads to many new jobs for this city, but the people are hired for very poor wages. Then the products that are produced get siphoned off by the Global North, in turn preventing that states “mass-consumption” abilities which is a generalized way that the south gets exploited by the north and the multinational corporation comes out making huge profits at the expense of desperate people just trying to survive and willing to work for pennies.

The depencde theory has several implications. First, Promotion of domestic industry and manufactured goods. By imposing subsidies to protect domestic industries, poor countries can be enabled to sell their own products rather than simply exporting raw materials. Second, Import limitations. By limiting the importation ofluxury goodsandmanufactured goodsthat can be produced within the country, the country can reduce its loss of capital and resources. Thrid, Forbidding foreign investment. Some governments took steps to keep foreign companies and individuals from owning or operating property that draws on the resources of the country.

In conclusion, both theories admit the leadership of western countries and their currently dominant position in the modern world, while undeveloped countries are characterized by socio-economic and political backwardness. At the same time, the two theories agree that the cooperation between western countries and developing countries is constantly growing and leads to their integration. However, it is necessary to underline that Modernization theory views such cooperation and integration as a conscious and voluntary act from the part of developing countries, for which modernization in the western style is the only way to overcome the existing backwardness, while supporters of Dependency theory argue that such cooperation and integration is imposed to developing countries by more advanced western countries, which simply attempt to benefit from their cooperation with developing countries and their westernization becomes a way of the establishment of control over and growing dependence of developing countries on developed ones. Regardless, the existing differences, both theories still raise a very important problem of relationships between developed and developing countries and the dominance of western countries and western civilization in the modern world.


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