Thursday, 5 February 2015

Dependency Theories

Depend­ency theory was originated from Latin America at the beginning of the 1970s. One of its founding fathers, A. G. Frank (1969).  He considered development and underdevelopment as two faces of the same coin, shaped by specific historical, economic, and political factors. Hence, neither the causes nor the solutions of underdevelopment should be sought exclu­sively, or even mostly, within the poorest countries. 

Dependency theory claims that the imbalances in the world's state of affairs were mainly owing to the international division of labor and to the continuation of past patterns of domination. The world was separated into two  core, composed of a few rich countries, and  composed of many poor countries.  Accord­ing to this perspective, core countries took advantage of their technological know-how, superior infrastructure, and economic power to strengthen their lead. The main role of the peripheral countries was restricted to that of supplying raw materials and cheap labor to the richer ones, making it impossible for them to ever catch up.
To address this problem, dependency advocates proposed a plan that works on two levels. Nationally,  and Internationally. Considering nationally,the  developing countries on the periphery were to become eco­nomically self-reliant and less dependent on foreign imports. Such a way that Internationally, they would form alliances among themselves to create a stronger political presence. The ultimate goal would be to change the overall international set of relationships by forming a bloc of many countries with similar aspirations.
Dependency theory had a significant impact in the economic and development policies of a number of Third World countries, especially in the 1970s and early 1980s, resulting in the adoption of import-substitution policies by many of those countries (Escobar 1995). This strategy aimed to protect national industries from outside competition by subsidizing them and putting high tariffs on imported products. The main idea was to stimulate growth of domestic industrialization (McMichael 1996) and to reduce or sever dependent ties with richer countries. However, the overall results of import-substitution policies have been rather unsat­isfactory (Jaffee 1998).
Its oversimplified division of the world into core and periphery levels is blamed for the dependency theory .It fail to explain the causes of under development and for its limited effectiveness in proposing successful alternative models of development.
 Dependency theorists failed to consider relevant internal causes contributing to the problem such as the role played by national elites. These elites often form strategic alliances with those of the developed world, and they play a significant role in shaping, often in negative ways, the development process of their countries (Servaes 1991)
 Dependency theories are also criticized for how little attention they pay to the differences in political-economic status among developing countries, resulting in big and potentially rich countries such as Brazil or India being put in the same category as much smaller and poorer ones.
This world system, based on capitalism, is divided into a core, dominated by a few rich countries; a periphery, inhabited by the many poorer countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; and a semi-periphery, including major countries such as Egypt, Mexico, Brazil, India, and others, with higher levels of resources than the majority of developing countries. This intermediate layer, the semi-periphery, addresses the criticisms received by dependency theorists for the oversimplified division into two spheres of rich and poor countries.
The three levels (that is, core, periphery, and semi-periphery) are contained in a unified world system, the mechanisms of which are those of capitalism operating at national and international levels. 
The proponents of the dependency theory vigorously supported rethinking the communication agenda along the lines of a more balanced flow of communication at the international level. Yet, at the national level, they often neglected to consider the horizontal component of communication within countries and failed to give proper attention to the potential of privately owned media and community media. While arguing against the "free-flow" argument proposed by the United States and its allies, 
The "dependentistas" remained rooted in the classic media-centric concep­tion of communication, mostly from the state perspective. Ideally, the state is expected to represent the wider public's interest, but reality shows that this has seldom been the case. 
Dependency theories did not consider and support the wider role that "freer" communication systems, and not just media, at different levels could play in creating spaces and actively engaging broader sectors of society in development. Despite significant differences between modernization and dependency theories, their communication model was basically the same: a one-way communication flow, with the main difference between the two theories being who was controlling and sending the message and for what purpose.


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