Dependency and Development at the Globalisation Crossroad (Working Group “Transformations in the World System”)

Recognising that the process of globalisation has come to a crossroad, we propose to revise some key ideas which have been the “sacred cows” of development studies and, in particular, world-system analysis.

Primarily, it appears to be reasonable to rethink the concepts of dependency and dependent development. As experience of East Asian success stories demonstrates, dependency is not necessarily an obstacle to successful development in contrast to previously widespread assertions. On the contrary, the dependency of East Asian countries on external markets and outward-looking economic growth facilitated their economic development. However, this “facilitation” has probably been conditioned by the concrete world context of their development and could be efficient only because of technological and structural changes in the First World countries. Will these conditions continue to prevail in the near future? Can the newly industrialising countries use the recent technological achievements of the “old” developed countries for their advantage? What can be social costs of such an adjustment count on the rising challenges and how can they impact the changing configuration of the world-system?

Secondly, in the last years we saw the rise of new centres of economic power. China and India, Brazil and Mexico, Russia and Argentina have begun playing an increased role in the global economy. Does it mean that the West will lose its predominance as the world-system core? Do these and some other rising middle-income countries become the first-rank global players, the new poles of the world? Can they accomplish the role of new drivers of development, being, to some extent, the growth drivers? Meanwhile, their drift towards the middle-income trap situation allows us to put their “bright prospects” under question.

Thirdly and finally, it is relevant to clarify who the social actors of middle-income trap situation are, how they have arisen at the preceding stage of development, and how the new social forces can overcome their resistance to required changes.

All these and concomitant issues are to be in focus of consideration at the working group sessions.


Imre Levai, Victor Krasilshchikov