Modernization and Dependency Theory

Introduction Development must be redefined as an attack on the chief evils of the world today: malnutrition, diseases, illiteracy, slums, unemployment, and inequality. Measured in terms of growth rates, development has been a great success; measured in terms of jobs, justice, and elimination of poverty, it has been a failure or only a partial success and state nations strive to achieve development because the economic, political, and cultural well-being of its citizenry is determined by the extent to which that society is above the ills stated above. Therefore it is important to account for why development does and does not take place or why some states are more developed than others. Various historical, ideological, intellectual, and theoretical evolutions of scholarly work describe the concept of development and consensus is far-fetched. However, there is ideological, theoretical, and empirical controversy and disagreement as continually evolving insights and interpretations trickle. Development is multifaceted because it focuses on different aspects of human life-cultural, economic, political, social, and now there is human development. There is a variety of complex discourse and theory of development each one with its own valuable insights and useful perspectives. This paper provides theoretical frameworks of both the modernization and dependency theories of development and how they account for development in general and how they fail to explain why the African continent is underdeveloped.

The paper will provide a general descriptive explanation of the two theories as regards their beliefs and values regarding how development occurs. The paper further explores critics of the two theories. In its final analysis, the paper provides a brief account of what African leaders should do to achieve development. Rationale Development has transcended human society since time immemorial and has had a greater influence on civilisations and cultural traditions in accounting for different economic, political, and social transformations at both micro and macro level. At macro level development includes peoples’ access to education, housing, health services, and nutrition and the extent to which their cultures and traditions are respected within the social framework of that particular society. Africa is not developed and continues to experience poverty, famine, diseases, hunger, ignorance and illiteracy, infant mortality, poor sanitation, and housing despite its abundant human and natural resource endowment. Development theories Mumba 2009 and Mutunhu 2011 recognise two major theoretical strands of development: the modernisation and the dependency theories to explain why Africa is underdevelopment. The theories presume that ‘there should be a universal development that should see all societies in the world placed on a single but shared continuum from least to most developed on the same trajectory towards common development.

It is presumed that when a good path of a theory is followed, all human beings are headed for better living as they would share the same and equal well-being. Thus poor states are poor because they have not taken the path taken by developed countries. Modernization and dependency theories have been prescribed as the two dominant theories on political and social change through which this state of equilibrium can be achieved. The Modernisation theory. The modernization theory assumes that traditional countries could be developed in the same manner did developed countries because the distinguishing feature of developed societies was their social, economic, political, and cultural modernity. For development to occur the conflict between traditionalism and modernism in developing countries must be identified and addressed in order for Africa to adapt or develop a social system that should respond to change in its environment because all societies have the ability to adapt successfully to long-term changes in the environment. According to Hans- Heinrich the process of change and response to change is a key dynamic of development and modern societies are in contrast with backwardness which is typical of traditional societies. Modernization theory is a process with tendencies towards convergence among societies; with time societies will increasingly resemble one another because as societies become modernized, the more they resemble one another.

This complex set of changes takes place in almost every part of society as a society attempts to expand based on growth and expansion of capitalism and industrialization in which traditional institutions, approaches, policies, and science and technologies get diffused. This will lead to unmatched economic prosperity and democratic stability in which ‘the once third world countries get linked with the west and will not be able to resist the strides towards modernisation. Walt. W. Rostow a celebrated proponent of structural models of economic theory argued that it is possible and logical to identify desirable stages of development in society. In his classic “The Stages of Economic Development, Rostow identifies five stages namely: i. the traditional; ii. Preconditions for take-off; iii Take off; iv Drive to maturity, and the Age of high-mass consumption; and that these lead to modernity and no single society would develop without pursuing these stages. Accordingly, all societies lie in one of the five categories and advanced countries had passed the stage of “take-off through to self-sustaining stage. The very basic stage, the traditional, is typical of subsistence systems and the final stage, the Age of mass consumption gears society into mass production encourages urbanization.

The west continues to task themselves with the modernization of Africa making the forms and strategies of Africa’s development transforming in accordance with technologies and ideologies of the developed world. There are counterclaims to the modernization theory that ‘development is not unilinear. It is argued that there is just one example where the model worked, that is, the United States . Taiwan and South Korea achieved development through authoritarian regimes. Africa’s development, therefore, requires the recognition of the poor who should be the focus of poverty reduction approaches which the modernization theory has relegated. Modernity is the brainchild of the Marshall of 1948 which was aimed at rebuilding Europe after World War II and every other initiative is a ploy in this favour. For example, it is argued that the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) some of the initiatives that been used to hijack Africa’s development. Hans-Heinrich argues that despite many years of independence many African countries remain poor.’ Demands of modernity on Africa cannot be achieved because of disparities in economic development and social mobilisation which lead to frustration and Africa’s political systems’ failure to deliver‘ because of ‘ethnocentrism, increased inequalities within and between countries; as the modernisation theory promotes western values; education systems that favour and benefit small local elites; and assumption of unlimited natural resources for industrial expansion at the expense of ecological issues’ compounded by the impact of colonialism and imperialism which still haunt Africa.

The Dependency Theory Popular amongst dependency theorists were Andre Gunder Frank and Raul Prebisch who argued that ‘poverty and underdevelopment experienced by low-income countries were an immediate outcome of manipulation by developed countries on which they are economically dependent’. Poor countries are trapped in the dependence syndrome and as long as the status quo remains, they will remain underdeveloped. Thus developing countries are economically tied to international capitalism by that type of linkage through international systems Africa remains economically dependent as means of production (technology) are concentrated in the north’. Accordingly, ‘true development should be seen to control monetary exchange rates with greater orientation on fiscal rather than monetary policies; promote a more effective government role in terms of national developments to create a platform of investment which gives a preferential role to national capitals; allow the flow of external capital; and promotion of more effective internal demand in terms of domestic markets to trigger the industrialisation process’ Reyes . ‘Development would be understood with full recognizance and understanding of the impact of colonization on Africa and the repatriation of profits made in Africa’ which made gains from Africa continue to be invested in the industrialised economies and the national wealth of Europe’s people increased’ as Africa continued to be economically and politically marginalised. Therefore, Underdevelopment of Africa is deprivation of Africa (by Europe) of political, economic, decision power, and lacking sustained investment funds which internal dynamics need to receive equal attention for understanding the historical dynamics of relations between countries from the centre and those in the periphery’.

In the process, dependency has made Africa a dumping ground for waste and excess labor; and a market where the terms of trade are favourable to developed countries. It is a form of capitalist perspective in which liberal economic ideals that take advantage of Africa’s weak position in the international economic position. The system allows for the accumulation of capital in industrialised countries of the West and the expropriation of surplus in developing countries. Hence the development of the West leads to the underdevelopment of Africa in which there is exploitation of the working class (by the ruling elites and the owners of the capital) who are fully dependent on forces in the centre of the world system. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which are institutions capable of imposing unfavourable development policies and strategies for Africa and any resistance to these initiatives attract sanctions through bilateral and multilateral agreements which bind poor states for a long time. For example, Zimbabwe was removed from the list of Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) in the early 2000s for failing to meet its financial obligations to the IMF. Dependency constrains the degree of freedom of dependent social formations with respect to development strategies and political decisions in third world countries’.

To the contrary, ‘peripheral nations experience greater development when their ties to the core are weakest’. Unfortunately, ‘the core and the periphery are connected through mechanisms of unequal exchange of different types of commodities based on the unequal remuneration of labor in many parts of the system. These links must be broken if Africa is to develop. Again the African Renaissance Theory is the reverse theory of the modernization and dependency models as it is founded on typical African values and norms which form the building blocks of the development of the continent. Conclusion Modernization and dependency theories which evolved since the 1950s and 1960s and have been recognised as the two most important and influential classical approaches to development theory. The approaches have emerged as anchor points in the debate on how to best conceptualise and understand international development processes of different countries. Whilst the distinctions made by modernisation theorists between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ forms of society, politics, and the economy led to analyses of the circumstances and policies that were supposed to lead countries on the path to higher levels of development, dependency theory’s focus on the long-term historical processes that locked the progress in the countries of the global South and produced analyses of the impact of colonialism and neo-imperialist exploitative tendencies that characterise the contemporary international political- economic arena and framework.

Africa needs to find possibilities of offering solutions to problems of poverty, population growth, unemployment, rural development, international trade, the environment, and initiatives which require skillful and judiciously balanced market mechanisms to achieve development and ‘the panacea to the development irregularities of Africa is the African Renaissance’ Mutunhu as Africa needs among other things to develop an important internal effective demand in terms of market and to appreciate that the industrial sector is crucial to achieving better levels of national development (enhance value addition). This should reduce dependence on the expertise and advice of the west and ‘discard breakthroughs which have made migration and appropriation easier and safer for the west. Africa needs to intelligently and equitably deter disparities in governance and imposed market forces which produce economic and social outcomes which are not socially benefiting to the continent and which cannot ensure long-term growth and development. African states need cooperation in this third millennium to counter the failures recorded by dependency and modernization theories by ‘reimaging and reinventing itself along certain ideological and philosophical lines’ in search of identity and meaning to place the continent in a global context akin of bringing Africa in interaction with global economic interest.

African leaders must re-engineer their thinking towards the social and value systems that accommodate an African unity and which promote unity, communalism, common identity, and common purpose whilst upholding the Afrocentric principles of “Ubuntu” (South Africa), “Humwe” (Zimbabwe), “Harambe” (Kenya) or “Ujama” (Tanzania). These would presumably re-establish African identity and African values that should enable the continent to seek local solutions and to transform the future through indigenous institutions, technology, values, and behaviour consistent with ecological and social realities of the continent through intra-regional integration and cooperation and to strengthen existing ones. African leaders need to be decisive and limit the influence of the west. With good and new policies the African continent is on its way to meet the challenge and supplement Pan Africanism with tremendous changes in the politics and leadership of Africa is needed. Mediocrity will give way for meritocracy and democratic good governance will ensure economic prosperity for all and at the same time ensure a peaceful, strong and virile economy based on harmonious co-existence where tolerance will be the watchword.

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