POLI 227 Lecture Notes - Comprador, Unequal Exchange, Ethnocentrism
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JANUARY 16, 2012
The developmental approach causes problems because it’s based on the idealized
notion of how the West developed (the history of Western Europe was not one of
smooth progress either). It is based on a romanticized idea of the ideal transition
(idealized imagery of the West).
In the developing world, decolonization was often followed by political disorder, not
development (civil war, regime collapse, military coup, etc.).
This leads to a revision of the modernist approach- Samuel Huntington (1968) believed
that (1) modernization led to social mobilization, which led to new demands. And (2)
modernization leads to capabilities (economy expands, new technology, ability to collect
taxes, new governance- capabilities of the state), which leads to the development of
Huntington believed that political decay was the result of these chains of causality when
the first equation overshadows the other and the system is overwhelmed (ex. If the
state cannot provide the citizens with the demands they are making because they don’t
have the resources). This will result in protest, revolution, civil war, etc.
If the demands increase along with the government capabilities and the development of
institutions, the country can remain in a stable period. If 1 moves fast than 2, the cause
is decay or instability, and if 2 moves faster than 1 (government power grows faster
than citizens desires) the result is order and repression (authoritarian regime/abuses of
The underdevelopment approach argued that developmentalists are wrong and
ethnocentric to suggest one dynamic only for political and economic development. They
argue it is factually wrong, and that there is a fundamental difference between a
Western Europe developing as the most powerful global actor than the developing
world which is developing in an inferior position politically and particularly
economically subordinate the West. There is a relationship of dependency (dependence
of 3rd world countries on raw material exports), relied on terms of trade w/ and unequal
exchange, and a first world control of advanced technology, the operation of first world
multinational corporations, and international debt.
This centre periphery or “metropolis satellite” relationship is reproduced within third
world societies through: “the comprador elite” (a small, wealthy bourgeoisie, with
traditional ties to first world business interest), a large mass of urban and rural poor,
and poles of underdevelopment and development.
In the hierarchy, the north is over the southern compradors that are over the southern
The Dependency theorists believe that 3rd world development is a product of the
nature of the relationship with the West and the world capitalist markers and the
domestic class struggle (social hierarchy).
Institutionalist approaches believe that institutions enable (creating capabilities, like a
tax regulating institution that enables you to collect income tax) and constrain action
(the rule of law, judicial system constrains) by affecting strategic calculations and by
reflecting and sustaining norms (such as democratic norms), and it recognizes the
important of path dependency and critical junctions, and political and institutional
choices at T1 with create and foreclose political policy options at Tx. For example, in
developing countries without institutions, (Egypt) would find it difficult to uproot a
political leader due to the absence of voting rights, the rule of law, etc. and other
democratic norms and institutions.
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