This article evaluates the relevance of dependency theory for understanding contemporary development challenges, especially in the light of changes in the global economy over the past 50 years. In order to do so, the article rectifies previous misunderstandings of the scholarship and offers a new definition of dependency theory as a research programme, rather than a singular theory. Four core tenets of this research programme are identified: a global historical approach; theorizing of the polarizing tendencies of global capitalism; a focus on structures of production; and a focus on the specific constraints faced by peripheral economies. While each of these elements can be found in many contemporary theories, what makes dependency theory unique — and a particularly strong research programme — is the combination of these elements. The article demonstrates how this approach provides a deep and broad understanding that is necessary to appreciate the persistence of uneven development with reference to two case studies, namely successful industrialization in South Korea, and how the fragmentation of global value chains has impacted industrialization in Indonesia. Finally, the article argues that approaching these kinds of cases through a dependency research programme can contribute to a fruitful renewal of development studies.
You can read my twitter thread about the paper here.
With debate raging around the implications of COVID-19 for the “developing world”, Ingrid Kvangraven’s turn to guest curate the Cyberflâneur has come at the right time.[…] Ingrid has “chosen a selection of articles that can help us better understand how COVID-19 will impact developing countries and the underlying structures that lead to inequitable and underfunded health systems, with a focus on financialization and imperialism.” You’ll find some real gems, including on the “coloniality in knowledge production about public health”, why blended finance might not be as good as it sounds or how the IMF and World Bank have fed an audit culture “serving to obscure the destructive effects of NGO proliferation on public health systems”.
See the selection of articles with my comments here.
I recently had the pleasure of contributing a blog post to the excellent blog Progress in Political Economy (PPE), which is based at the University of Sydney’s Political Economy department. I wrote about Samir Amin’s legacy, based on my recent Legacy piece in Development and Change. Check it out here.
This article situates the 2019 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in the history of thought on development, tracing how the focus, theory and methods have shifted in the field. The article evaluates theoretical and methodological critiques of the way randomized control trials (RCTs) are employed by the laureates, as well as attempts to overcome these challenges. In terms of theory, the article demonstrates what gets lost when experiments are guided by methodological individualism and assumptions of individual utility-maximizing behavior. In terms of methodology, the article unpacks the limits of RCTs related to their causal model, and their lack of attention to human agency and wider socio-economic context. Finally, the article discusses the experimental approach’s relevance for research and policy-making and cautions against any approach becoming a “gold standard,” due to the importance of pluralism for maintaining an open debate about development.
This week I had the pleasure of appearing on Doug Henwood’s political economy radio show, the LBO news. He picked my brain about the recent developments in the field of development economics and the work of Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer, in particular. This is a one-hour episode, with René Rojas being interviewed by the political demonstrations in Chile in the first half, and me being interviewed in the second half. You can download the podcast here or listen to it by pressing the play button below.
In this article in The Mint, I explore the relevance of dependency theory/ies today, along with Farwa Sial and Carolina Alves. We also identify some common critiques of dependency theory and argue that these are rooted in misunderstandings about the theories.