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  A dependent relationship between two or more societies. Dependence implies that the ability of a society to survive and to reproduce itself derives, in large measure, from its links with other dominant societies. Without such links (manifest, for example, in flows of value, power, technology, aid, political influence and control) a dependent society may be unable to sustain the conditions for its own continued existence.

For Dos Santos (1973), dominant societies are able to achieve self-sustaining growth whilst dependent societies grow only as a reflection of the dominant. A dependent society is tied for its own social reproduction to the dynamics of a dominant society. A good example of such a relationship is that of the so-called \'emerging markets\' for security investments evaluated by, and so harnessed to and dependent upon, uneven geographies of financial opportunities created and monitored by global financial markets. The changing criteria of investment in such markets are given entirely by conditions (e.g. financial surpluses, assessments of risk and reward) prevailing in the investor societies and can be only faintly affected by the emerging markets themselves — and then only in ways which gain approval in the investor societies (e.g. through the privatization of choice state assets).

Before relations of dependence can develop it is necessary for the means of communication between societies to exist. It follows that dependence cannot be an original condition and must, therefore, relate to the development of such means of communication. For Keith Griffin (1969) the origins of dependence are to be found in the expansion of European influence. He stresses the symbiotic relationship between the development of dependence and the development of underdevelopment:

Nearly all of the people in today\'s underdeveloped areas were members of viable societies which could satisfy the economic needs of the community. Yet these societies were shattered when they came into contact with an expanding Europe. Europe did not \'discover\' the underdeveloped countries, on the contrary it created them. In many cases, in fact, the societies with which Europe came into contact were sophisticated, cultured and wealthy.According to this view, relations of dependence are produced by the disintegration of viable societies resulting from their contact with a powerful external social influence. For some, such as the analyses made by Raoul Prebisch (1950) for the UN Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA), this contact was related to dependent trade relations (see terms of trade) and could be transformed by import and/or export substituting industrial investment. But, for others, much more was involved in dependence (see Peet, 1991, ch. 4).

Following Baran\'s (1973) argument that underdevelopment in the periphery is caused by the loss of surplus to the core, André Gunder Frank (1989) argued that development and underdevelopment are flip sides of the same coin and that dependence is closely related to the process of accumulation and development in core capitalist societies. capitalism involves the production of surplus value by the application of labour power (including the application of knowledge) to the production (of material and non-material values) and the extraction and concentration of surplus value by capital (see Marxian economics). The incorporation of regions such as Latin America into the globalizing capitalist world economic geography involves, according to Frank, a flow of surplus value from satellites — local, peripheral producers, dependent upon external sources of capital, to metropolises — regional, national and global centres of accumulation (see globalization). The surplus may be extracted either directly — through relations of ownership and control — or indirectly through mechanisms like unequal exchange (Emmanuel, 1972) whereby large amounts of (cheap) labour power in the periphery have to be expended on primary and agricultural production, for example, to enable the import of relatively small quantities of (expensive) labour power embodied in industrial products from the core. As a result, the course of economic and social change in the peripheral satellites — articulated by a local ruling class sustained by their involvement in directing the flow of surplus value — is shaped, constrained and governed by their dependence upon the dynamic (or motive force) of the capitalist metropolis (see new international division of labour) and its regulatory (see Regulation school) institutions like national and international state systems and multilateral institutions of governance like the IMF. At the same time, development in the core is dependent upon underdevelopment in the periphery.

The more determinist versions of dependency theory imply that development within dependent societies can come only from outside — indeed they counter the opposite assumption in theories of modernization — and that the distinction between metropolis and satellites is permanent and structurally determined with little room for contextual variation or local action (Foster-Carter, 1985). Given the prevalence of capitalism in globalizing economic geographies, the only possibility of development lies in isolation from the world-economy, and yet the dramatic growth of the newly industrializing countries, for example, suggests that it is the combination of internal and external factors which condition economic growth (see Third World). Arguments such as these, as well as a dismissal of the theoretical bases of dependency theory, have been made most notably by Booth (1985). Responding to such critiques, Richard Peet (1991, p. 54) recognizes certain analytical limitations of dependency theory but suggests that it \'opened our eyes and made us see the world from the perspective of the oppressed masses living in its “distant” corners. This is quite a contribution\' and it offsets theoretical and empirical limitations without necessarily invalidating them. Furthermore, the crisis experienced by many of the Asian NICs during the late 1990s reflected in part the effect of destabilizing externally controlled financial investment strategies.

Thus, dependence is as much a social as a geographical relationship. It is based on flows of value and so genuine interdependence (see Brookfield, 1975 for an early statement) will necessarily also involve the creation and realization of non-exploitative relations of production. The transformation of exchange relations is hardly sufficient (Brenner, 1977). Although dependent economies may develop through structural transformation (by import substitution, for example, or export-led growth) their degree of dependency will remain a function of the geographies of the social relations of production and of evaluation shaping such structural transformations. The question of evaluation points to a further limitation of dependency as an explanation of underdevelopment — its stress on unequal power relations manifest in the criteria which shape flows of value around the world economic geography.

However, as Michael Storper (1997) has argued, exchange relations cannot be reduced merely to those of quantities — prices and flows. Within \'network production systems\' such traded linkages are \'underpinned by a complex structure of interrelations … which allows learning [and is dependent] on the conventions and relations underneath transactional linkages, as well as … untraded interdependencies\'. However, the political economy of power in the contemporary globalizing economic geography inscribes the one-way relations of dependence all too clearly whilst its evaluations restrict the positive possibilities in Storper\'s reflexivities.

So dependency is not merely material. Prevailing discourses of evaluation played out in the major financial centres of the world economic geography condition the scope of local action and force compliance with the economic and financial norms articulated through these centres. Such relations of power work very directly in, for example, the dynamic and turbulent geographies of \'emerging markets\' as a category of portfolio investment defined and evaluated by the agents of financial capital.

Dependency does not, therefore, necessarily refer only to material inequalities of power but is framed by the prevailing discourses though which the global economic geography is understood and directed. (See also development; dual economy; subaltern studies; world-systems analysis.) (RL)

References Baran, P. 1973: The political economy of growth. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Booth, D. 1985: Marxism and development sociology: interpreting the impasse. World Development 13 (7): 761-87. Brenner, R. 1977: The origins of capitalist development: a critique of neo-Smithian Marxism. New Left Review 104: 25-92. Brookfield, H. 1975: Interdependent development. London: Methuen; Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. Dos Santos, T. 1973: The crisis of development theory and the problem of dependency in Latin America. In H. Bernstein, ed., Underdevelopment and development. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Emmanuel, A. 1972: Unequal exchange: a study of the imperialism of trade. New York: Monthly Review Press. Foster-Carter, A. 1985: The sociology of development. Ormskirk: Causeway. Frank, A.G. 1989: The development of underdevelopment. Monthly Review 41 (July): 37-51. Griffin, K. 1969: Underdevelopment in Spanish America. London: Allen & Unwin; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Peet, R. 1991: Global capitalism. London: Routledge. Prebisch, R. 1950: The economic development of Latin America and its principal problems. New York: UN ECLA. Storper, M. 1997: Regional economies as relational assets. Ch. 19 in R. Lee and J. Wills, eds, Geographies of economies. London: Arnold, 248-58.

Suggested Reading Corbridge, S. 1986: Capitalist world development. London: Macmillan, ch. 2. Corbridge, S., ed., 1996: Development studies: a reader. London: Arnold, section one. Kitching, G. 1982: Development and underdevelopment in historical perspective. London and New York: Methuen, ch. 6. Peet (1991) chs 4, 9 and 10.



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