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Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
Oss0212, Sociology
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Demonstrate a knowledge of the theories that explain global inequality


OER Text Material

Theoretical Perspectives on Global Stratification, Section 10.3

In this section, two theories are used to explain global inequality. The first one, modernization theory, states that low-income countries are affected by their lack of industrialization and can improve their global economic standing through an adjustment of cultural values and attitudes to work, industrialization, and other forms of economic growth. The second theory, dependency theory, states that global inequality is primarily caused by core nations (or high-income nations) exploiting semi-peripheral and peripheral nations (or middle-income and low-income nations). The exploitation creates a cycle of dependence.

Supplementary Material (Videos and Reading)

World-Systems Theory, Dependency Theory and Global Inequality (Video)

In this video, the presenter looks at some of the causes of global economic inequality using the world systems theory, and the dependency theory.

Dependency Theory (Video)

In this 2012 video, Allensens uses the neo-Marxist dependency theory to explain why some countries are rich and some others are poor. The presentation is particularly about Central and South America. The theory describes how economic elites across states collude to promote their own economic and political interests.

Modernization and Dependency Theories (Video)

In this video, Professor Zerbe explains both modernization theory and dependency theory. He explains the characteristics of each theory, and uses those theories to explain why some countries are more developed than others.

What is the Dependency Theory?

According to this article, dependency theory holds that the richer nations increase in wealth at the expense of the poorer nations due to a relationship that exists between economic and other factors. According to studies by Prebisch, the economic activity in the industrialized countries caused a range of economic problems in the poorer nations. The article cites Prebisch, as the originator of this theory.

Difference Between Modernization Theory and Dependency Theory

In this article, Nedha distinguishes between modernization theory and dependent theory. The author notes that dependency theory highlights that, due to colonial and post-colonial endeavors the countries at the periphery are constantly exploited by those at the core. On the other hand, modernization theory describes the transformative processes of societies from underdevelopment to modern societies.