Samir Amin Unequal Distribution: Economic YouTube Lecture Handouts

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  • Egyptian-French Economist
  • Called himself a ‘creative Marxist’ .
  • World System Analysis (core-periphery)
  • Dependency theory (Marxist)
    • He said, “In my view this is for political rather than empirical reasons.”
    • Dependency theory fits with uneven development
  • Radical theory - International Political Economy


  • An Essay on the Social Formations of· Peripheral Capitalism
  • Accumulation on a World Scale
  • Unequal exchange
  • Euro centrism

Unequal Exchange

  • Arghiri Emmanuel first developed the theory of unequal exchange
  • Amin criticized Emmanuel՚s work and gave his own literature
  • He integrated imperialism and Marx՚s labour theory of value


  • Mechanisms through which value flows from the periphery to the core
  • Maintaining an international division of labour
  • Uneven distribution of wealth geographically.
  • Against neo-classical economics
  • Capitalism - a global system dependent on the polarization between the centre and periphery.
  • Monopoly capital՚s extension to the periphery
  • Earn super-profits
  • Auto centric accumulation
    • In advanced capitalist countries
    • Promoted expanded reproduction of capital

Structure of Exploitation of Labour

  • Uneven development and exploitative structure Leads to
    • unequal exchange
    • Continued polarization
    • Increased inequality
  • These theories explain the factor price non-equalization in the world economy
    • Factor price is remuneration to labour or other primary non-produced factors.
  • The cheap labour attracts foreign investment.
  • Amin՚s analysis of unequal exchange - a unit of labour power is valued less in the periphery than in the core


  • Underdevelopment is NOT a lack of development
  • But the Reverse side of development
  • Exploitation of countries by rich countries for labour and resources
  • Global economy favours continued enrichment of rich countries
  • Poor countries have to pay the expense
  • Role of social conflicts ignored in development
  • As Economics focuses on management of capitalist expansion and theories
  • Capitalist expansion starts from one region but expands globally


  • Mercantilist stage
    • 1500 - 1800
    • International exchange – looting – Colonialism
    • Others fall behind
  • Competitive stage
    • 1800 - 1880
    • Capitalism expands – competition
    • It is already in an advantageous position
  • Current stage
    • 1880 to today
    • Monopoly capitalism
    • Helps profits from declining
    • Through unequal exchange


Q. 1. Unequal exchange is the formulation of

(A) Samir Amin

(B) Amartya Sen

(C) Paul Sweezy

(D) Andre Gunder Frank

Answer: (A)

Q. 2. Which of these is not among the ways of exploitation of labour according to Amin?

a) Polarization

b) Unequal exchange

c) Power of labour valued more in periphery

d) All of these

Answer: c

#Sociology of Development

#Dependency Theories of Underdevelopment Uneven development

#Samir Amin


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