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Strength and Weakness of Modernization and Dependency Theory

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Development refers to the process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage (especially a more advanced or mature stage). Again, development in relation to economy is the shift from low and labour intensive productivity to high production and technology intensive activities. The question of development especially in Africa has been a bone of contention. For this reason, writers such as Rostow, Prebisch, Wallestein, Boserup and others propounded theories to address the issues of development and underdevelopment in relation to third world countries. Some of the theories propounded are as follows.

According to authors of the theory, development is a linear evolutionary process and that prospects of development are inherent in a given society. Rostow identified five categories in which societies can be identified according to their economic attribute. Traditional society, the preconditions to take off, take off, the drive to maturity and the age of high mass consumption were the categories stated. In his view, development means ‘white’ and the only way for a third world country to developed is by strictly following the European way of development. The theory of modernization has its strengths and weaknesses. Below are some strengths of the theory.

First and foremost, modernization theory is embedded in science education. To remedy underdevelopment in third world countries, science education was a necessity. The study of science would help improve and increase technology in the give society. This will catalyse the process to take off in a traditional society. Furthermore, the theory makes reference to the value systems, self motivation and capital accretion which is a combination of sociological, psychological and economic features. Moreover, prospect of the theory is analytical. The theorists assume that traditionalism goes with Third World countries whereas Euro-American countries are modern. It assumes that traditional societies can develop when they adopt values of the modern world. Finally, modernization theory encourages the need for industrialization. To develop, the traditional societies must consider ways and means of becoming and industrial State. This will aid them to take off. Notwithstanding the numerous strengths of the theory, some flaws were identified which aroused criticisms by other scholars.

Firstly, the classification of distinct societies as ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ lacked clarity. There are various societies such as the caste societies, tribal, feudal and bureaucratic empires that modernized in different ways and structure. The theory only considered traditional to be pre-industrial. Furthermore, the theory associates development to European and American way only. This is a great weakness in the theory of modernization. Countries like Taiwan, South Korea and China have developed under strong autocratic regimes and systems different from the American way. Moreover, the theory recommends the elimination of traditional values as remedy to underdevelopment. To eliminate tradition value in a given society is to extinguish life of its dwellers. Rather, the theory was supposed to develop the values of societies with the modernized technology. Again the theory encourages and justifies colonial rule. The theory assumes that traditional societies when left in their fate can never develop themselves. For this reason, they must be forcefully brought under the guidance and rule of industrialized countries.

Finally, the theory discourages self reliance. Underdeveloped countries are made to rely on foreign aids than for them to sufficient cater for themselves.

The dependency theory was propounded as a counter-theory against modernization theory. One of the lead writers is Paul Prebisch. The theory assumes that, human conditions of existence is based on self sufficiency. To the theorist, underdevelopment is relative. According to Prebisch, the world is divided into the core and periphery regions. And that the peripheral regions can change into semi-peripheral if they escape subjugation and necessitate their own development. Below are some strengths of the theory.

Firstly, this model promotes self reliance. The theory encourages governments of peripheral regions to establish enterprises which will serve as industries for their raw materials. It also aims at targeting government role to provide free social services for its citizenry. Secondly, this system provides another alternative for peripheral regions to become industrialized. Through import substitution industrialization, peripherals can protect national production by establishing quotas and tariffs on external markets. This will help boost the local industries.

Thirdly, the theory identifies in detail how periphery regions have been exploited and the need for them to rise up in order to overcome such wickedness. Finally, dependency theory encourages the on confederation of periphery regions in order to have a strong voice and also control terms of trade.

Below are some weaknesses of dependency theory. Firstly, theory paid little attention to internal disintegrations that hinders development in the periphery regions. Most African countries are not developed because of political instability and not solely because of external ties. Furthermore, the theory reflects main conditions of the 1960’s making it incoherent for today’s use. Moreover, the theory discourages trans-national corporations. It will be very difficult for nations to learn the technologies of others if they do not link up with them. Finally, empirical evidence is not provided to support its conclusions.

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