Understand Dependency Theory in Sociology

Dependency theory is a sociological theory that explains how poor countries depend on rich countries. It further states that colonialism and neocolonialism have created unequal economic relations between poor and rich countries and that resources flow from a periphery of poor and underdeveloped states to a core of wealthy states. Let’s understand dependency theory in sociology.

Understand Dependency Theory

Dependency Theory in Sociology

Dependency theory is a theory from the field of social sciences, according to which poverty, political instability, and backwardness in the countries of the South are due to the historical path charted by the countries of the North. It seeks to contribute to understanding economic backwardness and analyzing its causes.

Dependency theory is a sociological theory that explains the flow of resources from the periphery of poor and underdeveloped countries to the heart of rich countries. It is an intellectual movement that emerged in reaction to modernization theory, a quasi-evolutionary model of economic development that assumes that countries move linearly through successive stages of growth.

The dependency theory originated in Latin America in the 1960s, became influential in academia and regional organizations, and quickly spread to North America, Europe, and Africa.

Dependency Theory offers theoretical contributions and methodological perspectives to understand underdevelopment and its organic link to the process of global integration of capitalism, drawing attention to the importance of this intellectual effort to interpret and face the curent Latin American challenges. 

According to dependency theory, economic underdevelopment occurs mainly due to the surrounding position of the affected countries in the global economy. Where underdeveloped countries put cheap labor and raw materials on the world market, then these resources are sold to economically developed countries, which have the means to convert them into finished goods. Underdeveloped countries end up buying finished products at high prices, leading to capital depletion.

The financial crisis of 2008 is considered the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, when considering the role of the capitalist system in the backwardness of the periphery. The 2008 financial crisis provides an opportunity to reflect on the importance of dependency theory in explaining global differences, as the financial collapse had negative effects of the financial crisis on developing countries. The response to the crisis has been without taking into account the needs of the world’s poor, and worse. This led to low levels of participation and cooperation between countries.

Many sociologists later argued that the financial crisis would lead to a shortage of financial aid to developing countries, which would increase their social and economic problems, widen the gap between North and South, and thus increase global inequality.

Currently, the political focus is on protecting consumers and taxpayers in industrialized countries, but poor people and poor countries may soon end up paying the highest price for chaos they had no hand in causing.

Dependency theory holds important lessons for understanding and challenging the hierarchy of forms of production, innovation and financing that constrain developing country policies to effectively address the crisis. The theory tries to explain the state of underdevelopment of many countries in the world, by studying patterns of interactions between countries, and by saying that inequality between countries is an essential part of those interactions.

Dependency theory has always been quite controversial. This theory differs from most Western approaches to studying political development, in that the economies of the Third World were mono-productive and agricultural-based, while the economies of developed countries were diversified, and were on a socio-economic scale. 

Third World countries were at the bottom of the scale. They had less education, less wealth, less health, and less military power as well. They were dominated politically and economically by the First World.

The dependency theory bears the expected results for the peripheral countries. Economically, the result of development is persistent underdevelopment, socially, the result is inequality and conflict, and politically, it is the strengthening of authoritarian governments.

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