Chapter 6: Dependency theory: strengths, weaknesses, and its relevance today
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Once a vibrant field of research across the globe, dependency theory almost disappeared from the academic curricula during the 1970s and 1980s. Despite claims that it is outdated or irrelevant, in recent decades, there has once again been a revival in academic literature on dependency theory. With the aim of clarifying the relevance of dependency theory for understanding uneven development today, this chapter deals with the following three issues related to the definition, relevance, and further elaboration of dependency theory: First, the chapter outlines some of the theoretical and methodological debates within dependency theory, including the debates between and within Latin American structuralism and neo-Marxism. Second, the chapter explores the arguments for dependency theory being outdated and evaluates to what extent dependency theory can remain a fruitful starting point to understand dependencies in a global economy now characterised by global value chains and manufacturing activities having spread across the world, also to the periphery. Third, and finally, the chapter assesses some key weaknesses of dependency theory and explores how they be addressed. This includes separating clearly between symptoms and causes of 'dependence' as a key challenge in parts of the dependency literature, and assessing to what extent the literature neglects other important inequalities such as race and gender, and how they could potentially be incorporated within dependency theory.

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