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In attempting to explain the persistent underdevelopment of Global South, some theorists direct attention primarily toward what happens within these countries, while others focus on the position of the developing countries in the world political economy.

Please compare the modernization and dependency theories with regard to the cause of the economic gap between rich and poor countries.

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Theories of development propose paths to development based on presumptions about the causes of poverty. For classical modernization theorists, tradition is the cause, and therefore, the Westernization of cultural, social, economic and political structures is the solution. The new modernization perspective does not necessarily view tradition as a barrier to...

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development. Instead, tradition is a factor that shapes the multiple paths poor countries take to develop, and international dynamics and conflicts may negatively affect development. Both the classical and new modernization perspectives view development aid, trade, and transfers of capital and technology as essential to modernizing.

According to dependency theorists, settler colonialism and subsequent financial colonialism created an unequal relationship between the poor underdeveloped "periphery" and the dominant Western "core." Therefore, their solution is utilizing local capital to develop national economies and weaken ties with the West. The influence of neo-Marxism is evident in dependency theory’s emphasis on the role of national governments in breaking the cycle of poverty.

Over the past 40+ years, as the international political economy witnessed changes that could not be explained by modernization nor dependency theories, world systems and globalization theories emerged. World systems theory focused on international actors such as multinational groups, information technology, and the social systems of the developing country. These factors offer an explanation for development in some parts of the world like southeast Asia, which cannot be explained by an exploitative relationship with the West.

Globalization theory emphasizes cultural links in a technology-driven world and the disappearance of boundaries (such as north vs. south, tradition vs. modern) as societies become interconnected and development more complex. Some critics of globalization theory note that it is highly systemic and downplays social diversity, and other critics argue that the socially diverse global domain is not adequately explained.


Four Main Theories of Development: Modernization, Dependency, World System and Globalization. 4/2001.

Globalizing Time and Space: Temporal and Spatial considerations in Discourses of Globalization. International Political Sociology, vol. 3, Issue 3, Sept 2009, Page 310-326.

Is there a Global Society? International Political Sociology, vol. 3, Issue 1, March 2009, Pages 112-115.

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As you say in your explanation of the question, some theorists look at what happens within developing countries.  These are the modernization theorists.  They hold that internal factors determine the degree to which a country develops.  They look at factors like educational levels, amounts of infrastructure, and cultural attitudes.  They do not pay attention to the place of the country in the international system.  They argue that countries should improve things like their educational systems so they can develop.

Again as you say, some theorists focus on the position of countries in the global economy.  These are the dependency theorists.  They argue that countries of the "North" colonized countries of the "South" in the past and that they continue to treat the Southern countries as economic colonies today.  That is, they exploit the resources of the South for their own benefit, regardless of the impact on those countries.  They argue that countries should limit their participation in the international economy (should close their own markets) so that they can develop instead of allowing themselves to be exploited.

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