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Theories of Development in the Modern World

Where did all these poor people come from?

First, Second, and Third Worlds.

Orthodox theories of development as modernization are based on two assumptions -

The world consists of autonomous countries where social change is viewed as operating within each separate society.

Social change operates as a series of parallel paths for all societies.

Rostow's stages of growth:

· Stage 5 - age of mass consumption

· Stage 4 - drive to maturity

· Stage 3 - take-off

· Stage 2 - preconditions

· Stage 1 - traditional

At one end, irrational and non-progressive traditional society.

At the other end a rational and progressive modern society.

The process: modernization

'Traditional' society invokes "characteristics of societies which were once universal, but which are now only to be found in poorer countries" (Taylor p.306).

Poverty is seen to be a product of backwardness. Traditional societies can develop by catching up to the leader. (Verhelst)

Challenges to orthodox development theory:

Dependency theory - two paths -Rich countries show impressive growth in the core.-Poor countries show impressive under-development in the periphery.

The development of under-development: some are kept at the bottom by those at the top.

Core-periphery is seen to also exist inside poor countries. A national elite marginalizes the poor.

Development and under-development - two sides of the same coin.

Wallerstein: World Systems Theory"History consists of the rise and fall of world empires as distinct entities successively incorporating and releasing mini-systems." (Taylor p.314)

Orthodox models "resolutely avoid the study of the international structure of development and under-development of which the domestic structure is just a part." (Frank)

Prescription: Poor countries must break away and base development on their own needs.

Import Substitution Industrialization: High tariffs protect local nascent industries.

Now globalization is doing away with many tariffs.


What does it take to become developed? What does it mean to develop?


Frank, A.G. 1967 'Sociology of Development and the Underdevelopment of Sociology' Catalyst, Summer 1967, pp.20-73

Johnston, R.J., Derek Gregory, Geraldine Pratt, Michael Watts 2000 The Dictionary of Human Geography Blackwell Publishers, Oxford:

Taylor, Peter 1989 'The Error of Developmentalism in Geography' Horizons in Human Geography, Macmillan, New York: pp.303-319

Verhelst, T 1990 No Life Without Roots Zed Books, London:

Wallerstein, I 1979 The Capitalist World Economy Cambridge U. Press