Group A, Class 1 Introduction to Sociology Final Essay Which of the following perspectives offers the most convincing explanation for the existence of global inequalities: modernization theory, dependency theory or world-systems theory? 4 July 2012 Which of the following perspectives offers the most convincing explanation for the existence of global inequalities: modernization theory, dependency theory or world-systems theory?
Globalization has had both a positive and negative impact throughout the world.An interconnectedness within the world where complicated issues can arise creating an unevenness that can contribute to a societies as well as the individuals happiness in life (El-Ojelli, 2006:p1).The negative impacts of globalization can be seen as inequalities spread throughout the world today.
This essay will first explore global inequalities, next the three main perspectives of global inequality will be compared including, modernization theory, dependency theory, and world systems theory; following this comparison will be the argument that the dependence and world systems theory are very similar and that they are the two theories which best explain the existence of global inequalities.
Global inequality can often be a topic that is overlooked in core countries such as the United States and Western Europe. However, global inequalities can be found in many peripheral countries like Africa as well some Latin American countries.
Inequalities can be measured in various ways. These methods can include the GDP (gross domestic product) and GNP (gross national product) as well as HDI (human development index). GDP refers to the income earned by the value of goods and services produced by the people who live within the countries borders, GNP refers to the capital such as foreign earnings from any corporations, businesses or individuals outside of the country, where as HDI offers more in-depth measurements of inequalities such as life expectancy, education, standards of living as well as human satisfaction (Macionis and Plummer, 2012:p 286).
Some inequalities in the world include areas like, income, wealth, poverty, literacy, crime, drugs, gender inequality as well as health related issues. Because of global inequalities between the rich and the poor, humans who are poor experience poverty, poor sanitation, and world hunger (Macionis and Plummer, 2012:p 306). Even though the world’s wealthiest countries are becoming wealthier, global inequalities are still growing. World hunger and poverty is a couple of the largest issues in the world, about twenty percent of the worlds population lives on one percent of the worlds income (Macionis and Plummer, 2012:p 285).
The global economies development has increased which can be seen as a positive, however, the rise in the economy only goes to the rich creating larger barriers between the rich and the poor societies (Macionis and Plummer, 2012: p309). These inequalities can be found in many third world countries, where often a high population, low life expectancy and poor housing can be found. Among the global inequalities comes the capital from which is made in under developed countries and has divided the wealthy nations from the poor.
A few models of development in global inequalities can be found, these include modernization theory, dependency theory, and the world systems theory. The first theory explained is the modernization theory. The modernization theory is much different than the last two perspectives on models of development. In this theory societies are brought together by modernization. There are four phases of modernization which show the different areas of growth, these phases are a traditional stage of society, a take off stage, a drive to technological maturity, and a stage which shows a high mass of consumption (Rostow,1990:p 4).
Throughout these phases of modernization in societies where this theory has been introduced the development in the world is due to advancing industrial societies taking over societies that would have been living in a more traditional society (Macionis and Plummer, 2012:p 306). The first phase of modernization according to Rostow (1990:p 4), the traditional stage refers to a country that did not have much production because of little or no technology within the country.
The second phase, the take off stage, is essentially the building of the economic structure and technological advances provided by a foreign power within the underdeveloped country, and third the drive to technological maturity is when these economic and technology building blocks advance about 40 years and there is now a mature economy of imports and exports, and last the fourth phase of mass consumption in which a modernized society in the twentieth reaches the maturity phase and the international economy reaps the benefits (Rostow, 1990:p 12).
Over time some societies become more modern than others creating an unequal balance among other states globally. It is the thought that the modernization theory in some societies, are left behind because of advances in technology and within the economy also (Macionis and Plummer, 2012:p 306). Rostow (1990: p12) suggested that the modernization theory is created by an outside government or corporation to introduce new technologies and build industries to make money.
As the four phases of modernization are explained above, it is simple to understand how these societies built upon modernization can create global inequalities and unequal balance within an underdeveloped society. However, the modernization theory is not only based on industrial and economic progress but also on political progress as well (Kamrava, 2000: p30). Governments from other states such as the USA or UK among others can become powerful when using cheap labor and production through these industries creating a higher economy for the western states opposed the under developed states.
Some criticisms of modernization can be the loss of a country’s traditions, the culture, and religion practiced within the country (Kamrava, 2000: p31). Although the modernization theory is based on ideas of development in an under developed country, the dependency theory is a theory structured and very different than that of the modernization theory. The dependency theory is in which under developed countries such as Africa are being exploited by slavery and colonialism (Macionis and Plummer, 2012: p306).
Most under developed countries do not grow out of this phase; instead they depend on the larger capitalist countries for support (Macionis and Plummer, 2012: p306). These under developed countries often do very poor after such exploitation creating high poverty in the world. In various poor countries such as Africa where the British and the French integrated through society, the idea of development was when the problems of global inequality was defined due to both the economic and social failures in Africa (Ferguson cited in India and Ronald, 2002: p146).
Some colonized countries are often left under developed and lack in basic necessities to live a happy and satisfied life. The under development was caused by colonialism and the forthcoming international division of labor, offering low cost labor to create industries for western societies (Kamrava, 2000: p32). With various industries being built and the creation of jobs for those who lived in exploited countries, workers in these countries would still not reach expectations of higher standards of living and still do live on very little money in this very day and age.
With the building of industries, western society has reached their development goal, causing the under developed to depend on western societies more so, all the while the western states earn capital and the rest of the third world countries remain under developed (Kamrava, 2000: p32). Under developed countries were mostly at one point colonized; therefore the countries were built by developed nations who have greatly mislead the developing countries. The developing countries have had the misfortune to then be led to work and serve the developed nations by producing goods and a lower price, thus, creating global inequality.
The international market was the leading force in the dependency theory, there the developing countries worked to meet the needs of the international economy instead of meeting their own needs (Kamrava, 2000: p 32). Developing countries were depending greatly on the developed countries themselves. The developed countries helped the developing countries financially in order for the developing countries to keep production flowing. Developing countries were given loans to aid the promotion of industrialization in order to keep continuing flows of exports (Kamrava, 2000: p33).
With the aid of the developed countries, the developing countries would keep not only exports flowing but capital flowing as well. According to dependency theorists, capitalism was the key reason to keep exports flowing from third world countries to the west (Kamrava, 2000: p33). Capitalism, the financial profit of purchasing or the trade of goods is also a key feature in the world systems theory. World systems theory or also known as world system analysis is based on an approach to earned capital in a world system rather than through individual nation states, by leaning on this theory the developed countries remain the super power.
The world system theory is based on the world’s economy within its relationship to core and periphery countries, creating inequality throughout different parts of the world (Macionis and Plummer, 2012: p 306). Core and periphery as well as semi periphery countries fall into what is called an economic zone, some core countries include the United States, and United Kingdom as well as Western Europe, Periphery would be countries in Africa and also a few in Latin America, while semi periphery would fall under countries such as Mexico or Brazil.
Within the world system theory the semi peripheral countries remain neutral, they are neither a rich developed country nor are they under developed and the core countries are categorized as the developed countries, while the periphery are the under developed leading to the economic power that places developed and under developed countries in an unequal world (Macionis and Plummer, 2012: p 306). The world systems theory is without doubt a capitalist economy in which the developed countries dominate.
Core countries remain strong within their borders and internationally, whereas the peripheral countries have weak economies because they depend on the core countries for international trade (Randall and Theobald, 1998: p145). The core and periphery countries both have their own areas of expertise when it comes to who does what in these industries. The world system theory is focused more on advanced core economics drawing attention on manufacturing and banking, while the periphery areas are focused on the production of goods (Randall and Theobald, 1998: p145). These areas of focus are also directed to everyday human interaction.
With the food, music, and clothes people buy on a daily basis, these areas are connected to a world system. Clothing for instance can be connected to the world system, for example, when buying clothes in the UK which are beforehand manufactured in areas such as Africa or Mexico among other countries in the world (Kardulias, 1999: p300). Out of the above three theories, not only does dependency and world system theory result in the best explanation of global inequalities but they are built off each other and become like one, therefore these two theories are very much alike and similar in certain details.
The dependency theory and world systems theory are similar, they both have a core and periphery area, however, the world systems theory looks at one more area, the semi periphery which is a more neutral zone working with both the core and periphery countries (Randall and Theobald, 1998: p 144). Besides the difference of economic zones in these two theories, the dependency and world systems theory are always in favor of the dominant developed countries, which are interested in economic and political power. The core ideas in both theories are very much related and together both theories can be the reason for global inequalities.
An article in The Economist describes how global capitalists believe that the gap is widening between the rich and the poor, the reason for global inequality could be due to an unjust trading system (The econo mist, 2004). Within the three theories on global inequality, the modernization theory, dependency theory, and world systems theory, the modernization theory could be held accountable for global inequality with its ideas of advancement in technology and industries. However, The dependency and world systems theory are in my opinion the sources of global inequality.
While the modernization theory looks into advancement in technology and development of under developed countries, the dependency and world systems theories focus on how to gain economic and political power, which gains higher dominance in the core countries. The peripheral countries will continue to depend upon the dominant core countries until a new and justified trading system is implemented. Word Count: 2021 References Inda, J. and Rosaldo, R. (2006). The anthropology of globalization. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing ltd. Kardulias, N. (1999).
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