How useful is dependency theory for understanding the modern Latin American experience?
At its core, dependency theory argues that developing countries like those in Latin America have been historically dependent on developed countries for their economic development. Developed countries have dominated the global economy and have used their economic and political power to maintain this dominance over time. In this view, Latin American countries have been stuck in a cycle of underdevelopment and poverty because of their reliance on developed countries for trade, investment, and other economic relationships.
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However, dependency theory has been criticized for oversimplifying the complex relationship between developed and developing countries. Some scholars argue that Latin American countries have agency and can make their own decisions, rather than simply being passive victims of external forces. Others argue that dependency theory focuses too narrowly on economic factors, and that it neglects the important role of domestic politics and institutions in shaping development outcomes.
Despite these criticisms, dependency theory remains a useful tool for understanding some of the key challenges facing Latin America today. By highlighting the historical and ongoing legacies of global economic inequality and political power imbalances, dependency theory can help policymakers and scholars to develop more effective strategies for promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth and development in the region.