Thursday, December 16, 2021

Examine the concept of dependent development with reference to Brazil.

Peter Evans’ Dependent Development, published in 1979, represents a particular version of  structuralist dependency theory. In it, he explores the question of how developing economies can achieve more policy space15. Evans’ answer is that our picture of the political economy of the Global  South is incomplete without the inclusion of a relatively autonomous state, which sometimes has the capacity of shifting the balance of power in favour of particular industrial policies. Such policies can  result in the development of industries in the Global South. From there, these countries can move  towards a fuller mode of development focused on the fulfilment of human capabilities and capacities and in turn produces a more humane society that nurtures human flourishing. Evans first came  across dependency theory by reading the work of Brazilian theorists and doing research in Brazil. In fact, he cannot imagine that he would have become so familiar with dependency theory had he stayed  in the US. In Brazil, he observed that there was something like development happening, although the country was still dependent on the Global North. As this seemed to be a contradictory combination,  Evans tried to characterize and explain it and came up with ‘dependent development’ through inductive reasoning.

After having worked on dependency in various forms, first in Brazil with dependent development  and then in South Korea with embedded autonomy, Evans eventually became disillusioned with the prospect of industrialisation delivering full-fledged capabilities. At this point he became convinced  that industrialisation was certainly not sufficient and perhaps not even necessary for development;  that industrialisation was a development path with diminishing returns. This continues to be Evans’ position and he is now even more deeply convinced that this is the case. Naturally, Evans notes, this  has led him to becoming quite irritating to many of his former colleagues who still run seminars arguing that industrialisation is the solution. Evans simply no longer agrees. 

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