Dependency Theory, Definition: Sociology YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Dependency theory is the notion that resources flow from a “periphery” of poor and underdeveloped states to a “core” of wealthy states, enriching the latter at the expense of the former.


  • Marxist theory
  • Developed in the 1960s as a criticism of Modernization theory
  • Looks at the world system created through globalization
  • Studies the unequal relationships within this world system
  • It causes the development and underdevelopment
  • Shows that the world system has a byproduct of development
  • System of exploitation of labour
  • System of States (norms, rules)
  • Both are indistinguishable


  • International relations theory that examines the relationship and interaction between global North and global South states
    • North states- developed, producers
    • South - raw materials
  • Recognize that the history of colonialism
  • Held some countries back
  • Isolation - development for some nations such as China.


  • Two sets of states, variously described as dominant/dependent, center/periphery or metropolitan/satellite.
  • Assumption that external forces are of singular importance to the economic activities within the dependent states.
  • Relations between dominant and dependent states are dynamic
    • Interactions between the two sets of states intensifies unequal patterns.

Influential Factors

New global systems of:

  • Communications
  • New world trade mechanisms
  • International financial systems
  • Transfer of military links
  • Attempts to explain the present underdeveloped state of many nations in the world
  • Examines the patterns of interactions among nations
  • Argues that inequality among nations is an intrinsic part of those interactions.


  • Losing significance in modern times
  • Insufficient to explain why some countries are developed and others are developing
  • Way out of dependency is for an underdeveloped nation to
    • escape from the global capitalist system
    • From master-servant relationship with richer countries
    • taking action itself
    • Not relying on outside help
  • Rejects the assumption that capitalism is the best means of economic development
  • Argues that participation in international capitalism by poor countries traps them in relations of dependency and subordination to wealthier states

Q. 1. Dependency theory was developed to explain

A. Persistent poverty in Latin America since the nineteenth century.

B. The status of Native Americans in Latin America.

C. The extension of democratic institutions in Latin American countries.

D. The influence of men over women in Latin American culture.

Answer: A


Q. 2. Which model of economic and social development explains global inequality in terms of the historical exploitation of poor societies by rich ones?

A. Neocolonial theory

B. Dependency theory

C. Modernization theory

D. Culture of poverty theory

Answer: b

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#Dependency Theories of Underdevelopment

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