Ronald H. Chilcote and Dale L. Johnson, eds., Theories of Development, Mode of Production or Dependency? (Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1983).

This is volume two of Sage’s series in “Class, State and Development,” and the answer to the question posed in the title of the book is “both.” That is, the editors take the position that the transformation of societies in Asia, Africa and Latin America is the dialectical product of the interaction between the indigenous evolution of classes and state institutions within these societies, on the one hand, and their integration on subordinate terms into the world capitalist economy, on the other hand. The lack of dogmatism is refreshing.

The essays are drawn from a symposium held in July 1979, “Theories of Imperialism and Dependence Reconsidered,” at the Vancouver meetings of the Congress of Americanists. Among the authors included (Aijaz Ahmad, Carlos Johnson, Anibal Quijano, Norma Stoltz Chinchilla, Andre Gunder Frank, Henry Veltmeyer, as well as Chilcote and Johnson themselves), the editors have attempted first and foremost to give fair play to a variety of theoretical perspectives from liberal to orthodox Warren to pure dependency to the mode-of-production school. They frame all in a historical overview of how these ideas developed in relation to the material evolution of the world economy. They then attempt to provide scope for a dialectical synthesis of these ideas in concrete interpretations of current peripheral economies in the context of the world capitalist crisis of the 1970s and 1980s.

All in all, the book is well worth reading, both as a handy update on the state of the left debate on “development” issues and as a stimulus for further analysis of other concrete peripheral economies today.

How to cite this article:

Karen Pfeifer "Chilcote and Johnson, Theories of Development," Middle East Report 147 (July/August 1987).

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