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Revisiting a Cardoso Classic

January 27, 2010

How should development in the Global South be conducted in a “post-neoliberal” world where free-market economic policies have run their course? In a special issue of the Institute-based journal, Studies in Comparative International Development (SCID), scholars address this question through critical and comparative lenses.

Co-edited by Paul Dupee Faculty Fellow Patrick Heller, Adjunct Professor Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Watson Institute Faculty Fellow Richard Snyder, the issue, entitled “Dependency and Development in a Globalized World,” compiles the revised versions of articles originally presented at a conference held at the institute in 2008 with former president of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso, then a Brown University professor at large in residence at the Institute. Taken together, the articles employ Cardoso’s classic book, Dependency and Development in Latin America, as a springboard to explore development strategies that address both the constraints posed by global power imbalances and the possibilities for transformation in the Global South.

In their introduction, the editors revisit key changes and continuities in the study of the political economy of development over the last half century. In contrast to the determinism present in dependency theory in the 1960s, Cardoso and co-author Enzo Faletto foresaw dependent development as a realistic, if problematic, path of action for countries in the “periphery” of the global economy. Cardoso and Faletto’s critical realism as well as their attention to the impact of class on development outcomes directly informed later generations of research.

However, profound changes in the globalized political economy call for a reexamination of the distinction between “core” and “periphery” nations, assert the editors. “Doing justice to the legacy of Dependency and Development in these times of defanged ideologies and new uncertainties calls for careful comparative assessments that can help identify the specific configurations of institutions, actors, and interests shaping the pathways of global integration.”

Cardoso himself nuances his assertions of years past. He argues that in order to develop, Latin American countries should pursue “globalized social democracy,” opening their economies to international markets, embracing socially just practices, and increasing the accountability of the state.

The remainder of the issue critically engages with this position. For example, Peter Evans of the University of California, Berkeley, asserts that Cardoso has underestimated the barriers posed by international economic institutions that continually give countries in the North the upper hand.

The authors in this special issue share several common values – above all, a critical awareness of the power asymmetries that perpetuate unequal relations between nations and societies. They also share a “possibilistic approach,” recognizing the capacity for the Global South to engage in transformative projects of emancipation.

By Watson Institute Student Rapporteur Juliana Friend ‘11