<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
  • Describe the modernization and dependency theory perspectives on global stratification

As with any social issue, global or otherwise, scholars have developed a variety of theories to study global stratification. The two most widely applied perspectives are modernization theory and dependency theory.

Modernization theory

According to modernization theory    , low-income countries are affected by their lack of industrialization and can improve their global economic standing through (Armer and Katsillis 2010):

  1. an adjustment of cultural values and attitudes to work
  2. industrialization and other forms of economic growth

Critics point out the inherent ethnocentric bias of this theory. It supposes all countries have the same resources and are capable of following the same path. In addition, it assumes that the goal of all countries is to be as “developed” as possible. There is no room within this theory for the possibility that industrialization and technology are not the best goals.

There is, of course, some basis for this assumption. Data show that core nations tend to have lower maternal and child mortality rates, longer life spans, and less absolute poverty. It is also true that in the poorest countries, millions of people die from the lack of clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, which are benefits most of us take for granted. At the same time, the issue is more complex than the numbers might suggest. Cultural equality, history, community, and local traditions are all at risk as modernization pushes into peripheral countries. The challenge, then, is to allow the benefits of modernization while maintaining a cultural sensitivity to what already exists.

Dependency theory

Dependency theory was created in part as a response to the Western-centric mindset of modernization theory. It states that global inequality is primarily caused by core nations (or high-income nations) exploiting semi-peripheral and peripheral nations (or middle-income and low-income nations), which creates a cycle of dependence (Hendricks 2010). As long as peripheral nations are dependent on core nations for economic stimulus and access to a larger piece of the global economy, they will never achieve stable and consistent economic growth. Further, the theory states that since core nations, as well as the World Bank, choose which countries to make loans to, and for what they will loan funds, they are creating highly segmented labor markets that are built to benefit the dominant market countries.

At first glance, it seems this theory ignores the formerly low-income nations that are now considered middle-income nations and are on their way to becoming high-income nations and major players in the global economy, such as China. But some dependency theorists would state that it is in the best interests of core nations to ensure the long-term usefulness of their peripheral and semi-peripheral partners. Following that theory, sociologists have found that entities are more likely to outsource a significant portion of a company’s work if they are the dominant player in the equation; in other words, companies want to see their partner countries healthy enough to provide work, but not so healthy as to establish a threat (Caniels and Roeleveld 2009).

Factory girls

We’ve examined functionalist and conflict theorist perspectives on global inequality, as well as modernization and dependency theories. How might a symbolic interactionist approach this topic?

The book Factory Girls: From Village to City in Changing China , by Leslie T. Chang, provides this opportunity. Chang follows two young women (Min and Chunming) employed at a handbag plant. They help manufacture coveted purses and bags for the global market. As part of the growing population of young people who are leaving behind the homesteads and farms of rural China, these female factory workers are ready to enter the urban fray and pursue an ambitious income.

Although Chang’s study is based in a town many have never heard of (Dongguan), this city produces one-third of all shoes on the planet (Nike and Reebok are major manufacturers here) and 30 percent of the world’s computer disk drives, in addition to an abundance of apparel (Chang 2008).

But Chang’s focus is centered less on this global phenomenon on a large scale, than on how it affects these two women. As a symbolic interactionist would do, Chang examines the daily lives and interactions of Min and Chunming—their workplace friendships, family relationships, gadgets and goods—in this evolving global space where young women can leave tradition behind and fashion their own futures. Their story is one that all people, not just scholars, can learn from as we contemplate sociological issues like global economies, cultural traditions and innovations, and opportunities for women in the workforce.

Summary

Modernization theory and dependency theory are two of the most common lenses sociologists use when looking at the issues of global inequality. Modernization theory posits that countries go through evolutionary stages and that industrialization and improved technology are the keys to forward movement. Dependency theory, on the other hand, sees modernization theory as Eurocentric and patronizing. With this theory, global inequality is the result of core nations creating a cycle of dependence by exploiting resources and labor in peripheral and semi-peripheral countries.

Short answer

There is much criticism that modernization theory is Eurocentric. Do you think dependency theory is also biased? Why, or why not?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Compare and contrast modernization theory and dependency theory. Which do you think is more useful for explaining global inequality? Explain, using examples.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Further research

For more information about economic modernization, check out the Hudson Institute at (External Link)

Learn more about economic dependency at the University of Texas Inequality Project: (External Link)

References

Armer, J. Michael, and John Katsillis. 2010. “Modernization Theory.” Encyclopedia of Sociology , edited by E. F. Borgatta. Retrieved January 5, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Caniels, Marjolein, C.J. Roeleveld, and Adriaan Roeleveld. 2009. “Power and Dependence Perspectives on Outsourcing Decisions.” European Management Journal 27:402–417. Retrieved January 4, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Chang, Leslie T. 2008. Factory Girls: From Village to City in Changing China . New York: Random House.

Hendricks, John. 2010. “Dependency Theory.” Encyclopedia of Sociology , edited by E.F. Borgatta. Retrieved January 5, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Questions & Answers

what role does globalization play in modern slavery?
Kay Reply
what are the characteristics of scientific methods?
Brandina Reply
its emirical, systematic
gift
can someone please help me? What is social statistics?
Moses Reply
Difference and realtionship between sociology and economivs
Temjensangla Reply
Conclusion for difference and realtionship between sociology and economics
Temjensangla
What is economics
Temjensangla
In conclusion, I could said that sociology it's a study of man and his habits, behaviours and interactions between humans and the environment where he lives.
Pascal
sociology could embrace many domains of the human culture.
Pascal
In a second time, economics could be define as a study economics structures in order create wealth.
Pascal
Nowadays, sociology and economics are completely integrated and linked. Why? Because, sociology try to study economics structures in order to help firms... to develop and conquer markets by understanding attitudes, behaviours of the costumers.
Pascal
In regard on what I had said before. Sociology makes a study of economics and economics takes also advantages of sociology as a tool. economics depends more on sociology even if there are complementary.
Pascal
what is the origin and development of socialogy
Talha Reply
Explain how man harnessed of nature for his own use
Cali
How? I think that man realized that there is natural elements that he could dominate and that he could not. A this moment, man start a reflexion in order to take a full profit of nature by a meticulous study of these different elements. (1)
Pascal
(2) And now we could see that after this meticulous study of the nature man had also observe nature. Man harnessed of nature for example by creating air planes, houses, cars...
Pascal
sociological reference and examples of each section
Alex Reply
Discuss the following isolated case Anna Case,Isabelle case,Genie case
Alex
who where the fathers of sociology and thier works
Kudzaishe Reply
Auguste Comte
Yuki
make psychology a science developed the first psychology lab
Cheolyn
also establish the first journal to publish psychological research
Cheolyn
can i pliz have their names
Kudzaishe
for psychology is wilhelm wuldt
gift
sorry I forgot
Cheolyn
comte was the first to propose positivism
Cheolyn
its alright
gift
I think Ibn khaldon in his "introduction " and after he is Augest comt, Dorkheim, wiber
Amazigh
Durkheim, Weber. although you have the patriarchs and matriarch of the theories. Foucalt, Marx, Pearson's, Merton and Mead and Martineau.
Ai
Discuss the following isolated case Anna case Isabelle case,Genie case
Alex
Outline the five main ideas of functionalism
Salient Reply
what are the key factors which influenced sociology...
Alexy Reply
Needs, mentality, etc
divya
What is the perciational
Gohar
Father of Socialogy?
Mohsin Reply
Auguste Comte known as the father of sociology.
Ankita
what is the main aim of sociology
Kingsley Reply
Growth of life style and sociology tell us what's impact of social relations in life...
divya
who is the father of sociology
Sudam Reply
August comte
kadambini
I have a mid term coming up i should know this already 😑
Yuki
what is a social groups?
mart Reply
what is a culture?
mart
culture is a collective body of behaviours, practices and artifacts which are preserved by a people and is passed over from one generation to the next.
Mr
what is a religion ?
Sudam
According to Emily Durkheim, whatever is worth holding… Everything, sanskar, whatever is acceptable and acceptable, is riligion... In simple language,… religion is a way of life.
Ritu
so what is the meaning sanskar
Kingsley
what is social statistics?
Moses Reply
what is social statistics in sociology?
Moses
What is social statistics in Sociology
agustina
who is the supporter of the concept of humanity?
Surjo Reply

Get the best Introduction to sociol... course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Introduction to sociology 2e' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask