A Brief Note on the Sociology of Development

Within the vast literature on the sociology of development, it has been theorized that recent reorganizations of capitalist development, specifically concerning a ‘new international division of labor,’ have reconstituted the global social cartography. What are the contours? & how should the be measured? These questions are difficult, especially given that ever-increasing cross-border linkages and exchanges-a time-space compression, so to speak-, seemingly represent a juggernaut for countries to achieve socially equitable economic path-dependencies.

Given the dynamic connective relationships of complex interdependency, specifically concerning the proliferation of financial capital mobility and the aggrandizement of transnational corporations (TNC’s), the capability for the developing world to achieve, to some degree, relative mobility that transcends the center-periphery divide is perceived to be implausible. As such, global capitalism proliferates ‘third worldization’ through the constant oppressive force of ‘primitive-accumulation', what Myrdal (1957) defined as international ‘backwash’ effects. Hence, the capitalist world economy is reproduced as a world-system (Wallerstein, 1979) of ‘unequal exchange’ (Emmanuel, 1972), in which ‘underdevelopment’ (Frank, 1969), namely, the inability to generate complex domestic patterns of effective demand, ensues peripheral long-run stagnation and monopoly rents, or competitive advantages, for the center; in the final instance, the terms of trade for the periphery fall precipitously - the Prebisch-Singer hypothesis.

Per Cardoso and Faletto ([1967] 1970), however, development in the periphery is possible if foreign capital creates spillover effects. Partial economic growth is viable through what Evans (1995) describes as ’dependent development’, in which there is a relatively strong tripartite relationship between the state, the local bourgeoisie, and foreing capital - an ‘embedded autonomy’ (Evans, 2002). Whether or not this is manifested is the extent to which, as Vernengo (2006) argues, a country does not suffer the inability to borrow in its own currency, especially in which the world economy is structured by the globalization of financial liberalization.

 For more on the topic see here.


  1. is interesting to note that neoliberalism has very successfully combated the notion of dependency and, especially, the theoretical trends on imperialism, the world economy, unequal exchange and -one might say- Marxism in general. However, the emergence of questions about the relevance of the dependency approaches -in itself- says something. When we look at the development of dependency approaches (theories, schools, etc..), we found that an error of historical and theoretical development theories was the believed that all (or at least most) countries could have stopped looking on global processes as determinants (and conditioning) for national development and look the determinants of development inside these conutries. Dependency approaches reflect these theoretical errors of strategy and policy. It permits to think about de relationship betwen political, economical and geographical issues. it permits to think in term of power, not only purchase power.


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