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Third World Countries - Essay Example

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Countless arguments and theories have been forwarded as explanations for the causes of underdevelopment in Third World countries or, as some developmental economists have insisted, chronic and persistent underdevelopment (Pettman, 1996). Some have explained underdevelopment through reference to Wallerstein's world systems theory, others through dependency and still another group through culture and politics…
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Download file to see previous pages Accordingly, underdevelopment emerges as a consequences of culture, politics, dependency and colonialisation, although not necessarily in that order.
Dependency theorists look towards history for the clarification of the reasons why some countries have successfully attained economic development while others have displayed a persistent failure to do the same and, are immediately influenced by Wallerstein's world systems theory. The aforementioned may be defined in the following terms (DuPlessis, 1988: 222):
"Wallerstein's method, is premised on two linked propositions: first that social change occurs only in social systems and second, that the social system appropriate as an object of analysis is a world system Hence, his concern is with the evolution of structures of the whole system,' understood as entirely distinct from its component parts, rather than with the histories - even if treated comparatively - of the various regions, nations or people that it includes. A world system, is a real, identifiable, analyzable thing: bounded and substantially self-contained, it consists of a unified economy founded on a well-developed division of labor yet incorporating a multiplicity of cultures."
As may be deduced from the above quote, the World Systems Theory (WST) defines the global political economy as a single whole, but comprised of numerous distinct categories. The first category is the core, who "benefited the most from the capitalist world economy," because they were the colonial powers and motivated colonialism in order to expand both their economic and political influence over the globe, using their strong military forces to do so ("Modern History Sourcebook", n.d.: n.p.). The second category, the Periphery, can be defined as the exploited and the oppressed compared to the exploiter and oppressor status of the core. As Lachman (1988) argues, the periphery countries did not have the strong and stable political systems which the core did, also lacking the military force which the core had. Consequently, this left them vulnerable to forced political and economic exploitation.
Even with the demise of colonialism, the systems theory remains very active for two reasons. The first is that the economic effects of imperialism are long-term. This historical era gave the North or the core, a tremendous head start over the South in terms of development, even culminating in the regression of the economies of the South and limiting their potential for development. As stated in the "Modern History Sourcebook," according to Wallerstein's systems theory, "an analysis of the history of the capitalist world system shows that it has brought about a skewed development in which the economic and social disparities between sections of the world economy have increased rather than provided prosperity for all." The second is that colonialism was ultimately followed by neo-colonialism, whereby the multinational corporate representatives of the core continued the drainage of the south's resources and its transference to the North (Li, 2000).
As per the presented argument, representing the stand of the dependency theorists on the question of the South's continued underdevelopment, underdevelopment is rooted in historical circumstances which effectively ensured the impoverishment of the South and its ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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