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Assess the Value of Dependency Theory in explaining Social Inequalities in Africa

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  • Essay length: 2807 words
  • Submitted: 19/06/2006
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University Degree Human & Social Geography

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Assess the Value of Dependency Theory in explaining Social Inequalities in Africa

Public and intellectual concern with economic growth and social transformation can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks, but the idea of development as a specific domain of inquiry and state intervention is of relatively recent origin (Watts, 1993). Indeed, the term 'development' only came into the English language in the Eighteenth Century. Its root meaning was of unfolding, but a metaphorical extension of this idea was soon in place, extending its meaning to growth.

`The theory of development is of European origin and so it was only with the onset of colonialism that it began to take on global implications. The colonial powers rapidly exported the concept to all parts of the world however, interpreting development as becoming more and more like the Mother Country. In this way, the colonial powers used the idea of development as a way to justify their imperialistic actions:

'By the Nineteenth Century, the central thesis of developmentalism as a linear theory of progress rooted in Western capitalist hegemony was cast in stone.'

`(Watts, 1993)

In Africa therefore, the notion of 'development' has only a relatively

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