In the 1950s and early 1960s, "the first substantial set of writings by mainstream sociologists and political scientists that focused on what was happening in the Third World. Interest in modernization clearly stemmed in part from America's new position of international hegemony, but it also grew out of a rediscovery of the central themes of classical nineteenth-century sociology." (p. 739) Evans and Stephens note that a difference between the study of industrialization by the 19th century founders of sociology and the development discourse in the mid-20th century is "This time it was not the origins or consequences of "our" industrialization that was considered problematic, it was "their" industrialization, the progress or lack of progress of the people of the Third World" (p. 741). In this latter case, "our" industrialization was taken as a normative and theoretical model, and sociologists sought to understand how it could be extended to the Global South.
Parsonian structural-functionalism was an influence of Modernization Theory. Specifically, it drew on Weber's notion of rationalization ("Increased "rationality" is the definition of the movement toward modernity, or more crudely put, of progress" - p. 741) and "Durkheim's vision of increasing functional differentiation as the master process in the development of industrial society" (p. 741). It neglected Weber's "preoccupation" with classes, the state, and "the historical evolution of the institutions of capitalism" (p. 741). Evans and Stephens elaborate on Weber and Durkheim's influences on modernization theory on p. 742.
Modernization theory predicted tension or conflict if different sectors of society modernized at different rates, or if "one modernization process proceeded more rapidly than others" (p. 742). It also predicted privileged traditional elites would resist new values but did not devote much analysis to "conflicting interests among different groups and classes" (p. 742). Since they assumed that modernization was ultimately good (and necessary) for all, they saw conflicts as "questions of adjustment" and not "long-term gains and losses" (p. 742).
The theory assumed all nations would follow the same trajectory that advanced capitalist nations had done, and any nation doing otherwise was an aberration "to be corrected" (p. 742). Ethnocentrism was an issue as "the distinctive cultures of Third World countries seemed only obstacles to be overcome and replaced by the value patterns of the industrial West" (p. 742).
The theory ignores that "there might be real conflicts of interest between developing and developed countries" and "the idea that the problems and possibilities of development are contingent on a country's position in a larger system of interrelations among nations" (p. 743). Evans and Stephens emphasize this latter point heavily, stating that "For small countries with recent colonial pasts, it was hard to accept this neglect as a convenient abstraction. It amounted to denial of the most salient features of their history and current problems." (p. 743)
Mid 1960s: Comparative Historical Approaches
"While the modernization approach dominated work on Third World countries," study of development of advanced industrial countries instead used a comparative historical approach (p. 743). In these studies, authors did not create a common theoretical paradigm (like modernization theory). In 1962, Gerschenkron argued that within Europe, "economic development took quite different paths depending on the timing of industrialization" (p. 743). In other words, "economic relations between countries" is an important factor in a single country's economic development, particularly for late developers (p. 744).
Next, they cite Polanyi (1944), who "convincingly drives home the point that the development and eventual total dominance of market exchange in economic relationships on a world scale was the creation of individuals and groups, primarily but not entirely the bourgeoisie, pursuing their interest politically" (p. 744). Evans and Stephens find this important because it "was perhaps the earliest attempt to integrate the interplay of classes within society and the interplay of states both in the world economy and in the world system of states in a single analysis. Moreover, Polanyi recognizes that the victims of the rise of market society, workers and peasants, were not simply on the receiving end of history. On the contrary, they sought, sometimes with success, to protect themselves from the market through struggles to alter the rules of the game" (p. 744).
Reinhard Bendix was a theorist within this tradition. He "attacked modernization theory for its ahistorical approach, its organic view of society and neglect of conflict, and its assumption of a single path of societal evolution" (p. 744). Evans and Stephens write: "In his view, society was a product of historical group conflicts, which endure to shape present-day social structure and culture. In contrast, however, to purely materialist analyses, he contends that cultural ideas do have very important effects on societal development that can- not be reduced to material interest" (p. 744). Thus, modernization theorists and comparative historical theorists were not simply writing about different regions of the world with different approaches and ignoring one another's work. Bendix was critical of the modernization approach.
Evans and Stephens rate Barrington Moore's The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy as the most important work in the comparative historical tradition. Furthermore, it spanned both the First and Third worlds. This is one more step in breaking down the wall between studying "us" using comparative historical methods and studying "them" with modernization theory.
Last, they cite Otto Hintze as important, noting that he "began with the assumption that the interplay of states in the European state system had a central influence on the internal development of individual states." (p. 744).
Dependency and World Systems Theories
Unlike modernization theory, dependency theory posits that the "core" nations harm - not help - the countries of the periphery. Evans and Stephens say the strongest statement of this comes from Andre Gunder Frank in 1967. Frank and Paul Baran (1957) together "reintroduced Marxist themes into the debate on development while at the same time focusing on the dynamics of change in the periphery." Together, they offered a clear alternative to modernization theory.
Evans and Stephens outline it clearly as follows: "Ties with developed countries were the problem, not the solution. For precisely that reason, among others, the path followed by the developed countries could not be followed by currently developing countries. Having climbed the ladder of industrial development and built strong state apparatuses, the developed countries were now in a position to exploit other regions and prevent the ascension along a similar road of the developing countries. The principal obstacle to change at the local level was not irrational attachments to traditional values, it was the very rational attempts of local elites and their foreign allies to defend their own power and privilege." (p. 745)
Additionally, both Baran and Frank used historical case studies that integrated examining both local and international actors to construct their arguments. They focused on interests instead of norms and values, and economic and political structures instead of cultural patterns (p. 745).
Dependency theory came even more from scholars in the South themselves, particularly Latin Americans. Cardoso and Faletto (1979) wrote the "founding statement of the dependency approach," Dependence and Development in Latin America.
Evans and Stephens describe world systems theory, saying Immanuel Wallerstein (1974, 1979) "provides a vision in which the logic of capital accumulation dictates not just relations among classes but also those among states and geographically defined zones of production. The position of individual states and societies within the world system may shift, but the structure of the system as a whole defines the pattern of development both globally and within individual societies" (p. 745).
"The New Comparative Political Economy"
Evans and Stephens regard the above approaches as precursors to what they wish to focus on, which are a number of approaches that share the following hypotheses:
- "Economic and political development cannot fruitfully be examined in isolation from each other" (p. 740).
- While sensitive to international factors, they reject "the idea that external factors determine the dynamics of domestic development" (p. 740)
- Rejection of "models that posit "necessary" outcomes, assuming instead that developmental paths are historically contingent. (p. 740)
- Relies heavily on comparative historical analysis.
- As it "combines the classic concerns of nineteenth-century political economy with a comparative historical perspective that emphasizes the international context of national developmental trajectories," (p. 740).
Evans and Stephens call it "the new comparative historical political economy, or "new work in comparative political economy" for short. They see it as a blending of European comparative historical analysis and analysis of dependency in the Third World. Researchers "blended perspectives" to form one body of literature on both the Global North and South during the 1970s and 1980s. Methodologically, it analyzed comparative history, with nations as cases.
Instead of "charting progress along a presumed unilinear path of societal development," scholars work at "uncovering, interpreting, and trying to explain distinctive patterns of development" (p. 746). The literature incorporates the roles of different classes within countries. They consider both the roles of the state and the masses. They attempt to explain "variability and distinctive patterns of development" (p. 747). Evans and Stephens elaborate in their description of this literature through pp. 746-748.
They then turn to four current issues to describe in further detail: the role of the state in relation to the development of markets, the relation between economic development and democratization, the relation between the accumulation of capital and pursuit of a more egalitarian distribution of income and, finally, the consequences of insertion in the world political economy for national trajectories of development.
States and Markets
According to Evans and Stephens, both traditional neoclassical economic theory and modernization theory "suggested that the state's developmental role was best limited to ensuring property rights and eliminating obstacles to the emergence of efficient markets" (p. 749). Development was to come from the market. But Paul Baran, who Evan and Stephens categorize as a "pessimistic version of Marxist analysis," as well as dependency theorists argue that markets alone would never bring development to the Global South (p. 749). Both saw stronger states as central to the solution. Evans and Stephens are not convinced of such a dichotomy between market and state: "Assuming the simultaneous, and occasionally mutually reinforcing, importance of both states and markets is a more fruitful starting point and one that is increasingly common in new work on comparative political economy" (p. 749). They detail several examples of states taking a heavy hand in economic intervention in a way that fostered strong private corporations later on and others of state-owned industries.
Evans and Stephens write, "Economic rationality cannot be separated from political rationality in these economies. The prediction of future state policies is as important as predicting market reactions" (p. 750). However, they add that "states that lack autonomy from private elites and bureaucratic capacity are likely to subvert the market in developmentally detrimental ways" (p. 750). They illustrate this with an example of a state agricultural policy aimed at generating political support for a politician from a rural base. Evans and Stephens cite the problem as the politicians needing to "purchase" support from a base and lacking a bureaucratic structure that can keep state officials from benefiting themselves instead of their nation. In short, "The consequences of state intervention depend on the political character of the intervening state" (p. 751). They add that the impact is not a one-way street. Sometimes economic policies have political consequences (e.g. economic policies produce a strong metalworkers union that becomes a powerful political actor). Also, sometimes state intervention in the economy is not for economic objectives but for security ones (e.g. developing a domestic energy supply available because you're currently getting your oil from a hostile neighbor who might cut you off).
Evans and Stephens sum up that it is now assumed that development will result from both state direction and market orientation, and "the question then becomes how do political forces shape the policies that emerge from this combination and how are they in turn shaped by it" (p. 751).
Development and Democracy
In the seventies, scholars were split between whether they thought economic development went hand in hand with democratization or not. Lipset, for example, argued that development brought industrialization and urbanization, and they were in turn associated with increased wealth, education, literacy, mass communication, income equality, and the size of the middle class, all of which in turn facilitate democratization (p. 752). Others disagreed. Rueschemeyer (1980) suggested a synthesis of the views, believing that industrial capitalism makes it more difficult for elites to politically exclude the working and middle classes.
Continental Europe shifted toward democracy during the same decades it shifted from an agrarian to an industrial economy. In almost all of the European countries that went democratic, the organized working class played a role. However, an organized working class alone does not lead to a democracy - they must find allies to achieve it, and the "key to the puzzle" was agrarian class relations (p. 752). When there are enough large landholders, they can stop a movement toward democracy.
On p. 753, Evans and Stephens analyze whether this theory holds true outside Europe. They determine it does in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Latin America, with some caveats. Generally, a stronger state is more likely to trend authoritarian, whereas a weaker one with less coercive power is not. In summary, they declare their hypothesis true, with caveats about the relative power of the state included.
Accumulation and Distribution
Modernization theorists generally assumed that "development would naturally produce greater equality" (p. 754). However, economic growth models show a trade-off between growth and distribution, implying that inequality is necessary for growth. Evans and Stephens focus on research on the "origins and consequences of redistributive efforts associated with the welfare state" (p. 754). They link the power of the working class (and thus unions) to leftist governments with policies that redistribute wealth. They compare this to the findings about democracy, since class composition is so important, and add that like they found with democracy, analysis of state structures is needed too.
However, studies of the Global South focus on inequality rather than redistribution. Noting high levels of inequality in middle-level developing nations (especially Latin America) they posit that dependent development is associated with high levels of inequality. In Latin America, they find that labor has two choices for employment, neither of which can support them well: a "marginal existence in the rural areas or marginal jobs in the urban service sector" (p. 755). Neither offers the ability to organize politically.
Evans and Stephens support this conclusion, noting "Penetration by multinational corporations, which is likely to bring with it a pattern of industrialization that is more capital intensive and more dependent on foreign technology, has been consistently found to be associated with higher levels of inequality" (p. 755).
However, East Asian nations, particularly Taiwan, industrialized rapidly while decreasing inequality, which seemed to disprove the hypothesis that countries had to trade off between growth and equality and generally every other theory outlined above. "These cases suggested that something beyond engagement with the international economy and reliance on foreign capital must be responsible for the extreme levels of inequality found in Latin American cases" (p. 756). Scholars believe that the land reform and construction of "a viable small-holder agriculture" seemed "critical" in the East Asian cases (p. 756). In general, the end result at the time of Evans and Stephens writing, this area was all a big question mark.
The World Political Economy and National Development
Evans and Stephens start by noting that "Development has never taken place in isolated compartments defined by national borders" (p. 756). Therefore, international influences are important to consider when examining any one nation. As an example, they cite the impact of international migration on labor markets, saying it does more than add new workers, it "changes the way in which the labor process itself is organized" (p. 756). Immigrant labor often cannot take advantage of labor protections, and "the modernization of productive capacity has not been accompanied by commensurate advances in local labor organization" (p. 757). There are two overall results. First "Third World workers have not benefited to the degree that the modernization approach might have predicted" (p. 757) and second, First World workers "must compete with Third World workers while undercutting" their own labor protections.
Evans and Stephens support a "synthesis" of the positions of modernization and dependency theories about whether developing nations will benefit from interaction with developed nations. They say this synthesis "views positive effects of international ties as possible but contingent on the ability of Third World states to renegotiate the nature of their links to the industrial north" (p. 757). Furthermore, nations cannot escape international influence (via markets, for example) even if they want to.
Rather than seeing international engagement as good or bad, current scholars seek to understand factors that allow countries to benefit or limit them from doing so. Evans and Stephens make a case for going even further, backing the view of Gourevitch (1978) that "the interaction of the world political economy and domestic development must be seen as recursive" (p. 757). Evans and Stephens write:
"Third World countries attempt to construct more interventive state apparatuses in part precisely because of the dependent position in which they find themselves vis-a-vis the international economy. If they are able to develop such capacity, they are then better able to restructure their domestic economies and create new bases of comparative advantage in international trade." (p. 757)
They go on to say:
"Changes in domestic policies and capacities do not just influence the links between individual countries and the international system. When changes in several countries are mutually reinforcing or when the weight of a single national actor in the system is large, they may have the effect of restructuring the international system as a whole." (p. 758)
They add a critique of dependency theory, that it neglects "geopolitical concerns as independent factors in determining the character of ties between north and south" (p. 758).
Evans and Stephens sum up this section saying "recent work on the interaction of national development and the world political economy has four salient characteristics" (p. 758).
- "It has attempted to examine the consequences of international flows for domestic institutions and how these are different in different regions of the world system" (p. 758)
- "It has moved toward a synthesis of the modernization and dependency positions on the consequences of international ties for developing countries, emphasizing the contingent character of these consequences" (pp. 758-759). "It has moved toward a more recursive view in which the world political economy both shapes and is shaped by the historical trajectories of development within individual nation-states" (p. 759).
- It has brought geopolitics back into the traditionally economistic analysis of core-periphery relations" (p. 759).