segunda-feira, 9 de março de 2009

Análise da Dependência: A criação de uma nova teoria social na América Latina (por Fernanda Beigel)

artigo enviado pela pesquisadora Fernanda Beigel

Dependency Analysis: The creation of New social Theory in Latin America

In: Sujata Patel Ed. The International Handbook on Diverse Sociological Traditions, London: SAGE, forthcoming.

by Fernanda Beigel - Adjunct Researcher at CONICET (Argentina) and Director of PhD in Social Sciences at National University of Cuyo (Mendoza, Argentina).

“Dependence” has been a recurring concern within the Latin American intellectual community. It began in the nineteenth century when the discussion over national independence was initiated and continued into the twentieth century with the debate on economic development. It eventually appeared as a sociological theme and as a social change theory between 1964 to 73. It was also during this period that the first democratic socialist government was elected in Latin America – in Chile. The Chilean Government encouraged intellectual and institutional autonomy in the universities. In those years, Santiago de Chile became the axis of a dynamic regional academic circuit wherein endogenous sociology was institutionalized. In this paper, I situate the emergence of Dependency Analysis as a critical reflection on the Latin American peripheral condition in a
historical perspective.

The theory of Dependency was born against a contested conceptual background. The main dispute between its promoters was the ultimate source of ‘concrete dependent situations’. While some of them claimed that the main contradiction was between the nation and the international system, others contended that the priority should be given to internal (national) class conflict. The former implied reforming capitalism while the latter advocated radical social change. Dependency Analysis appeared, thus, in the midst of the tension between the legacy of the Latin American structuralist school of thought (Estructuralismo cepalino3) and heterodox Marxism – a critical trend emerging from communist parties.

Given the complexity of this intellectual tradition, it is necessary to distinguish three different uses of the concept of ‘dependency’ simultaneously at work: a) dependence as a changing historical condition; b) Dependency Analysis, as a social theory and c) dependentists, as the scholars who developed this study and research area. In the first part of this paper, I discuss the historical context - the intellectual traditions and institutional setting in which Dependency Analysis emerged. In the second part, I focus on the debates and the process of knowledge production within the dependentist working groups in different academic institutions. Finally, I analyze Dependency theory’s contribution to Sociology, in order to provide a better understanding of the endogenous process of
‘scientific paradigm-building’ in Latin America.

A Historical Background of Dependence/Dependency

By the end of the nineteenth century, oligarchic families and the military constituted the elite of Latin American nations. They led the traditional parties, leaving little space for political debate in the public sphere. Modernity was seen by this ruling class as a reflection of technical progress, and not a result of increasing political and social democracy. Essayists, poets and journalists voiced an increasing middle-class discontent towards this highly iniquitous stratified society. In the context of a closed political system, these writers used the media to claim civil rights and social justice. They considered political independence as formal and incomplete, since British and American enterprises dominated the most dynamic sectors of national production. Imperialism was understood as an economic phenomenon, linked to these internal processes. These modernists argued that intellectual dependence was a key problem for endogenous social development. In the words of the Cuban leader José Martí: ‘the problem of Independence was not a change of forms, but a change of spirit’ ([1891] 1992:484).

In the late nineteenth century tumultuous processes led to significant cultural and social differentiation. Literary systems emerged out of journalism; poetry and ‘essayism’ developed as separate practices. National universities began to play a central role in the modernization of the public sphere, training future politicians to lead democratic parties and offer a new path for upward social mobility. Along with the development of higher education, scientific research gained increasing autonomy.

By the end of the forties, economic progress and industrialization were central debates within Latin America. While underdevelopment was understood as a backward condition, development was perceived as a theory and a policy to explain and intervene in the Third World’s iniquitous social and economic structures. The emergence of regional organizations, such as the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA), created by United Nations, encouraged a critical reflection of the impact of technical progress and involved national governments in developmental policies. The Latin American structuralist school of thought was born with the publication of ECLA based Raúl Prebisch’s 1949 study, El Desarrollo económico de la América Latina y sus principales problemas (Economic Development in Latin America and its Main Problems). This Argentinian thinker analyzed the international economy as a set of relations between the industrialized center and a periphery . The structuralists assessed the problems of the periphery at three levels. The first was the analysis of structural unemployment which was related to the inability of traditional export industries to grow and absorb excess rural population. The second was external disequilibrium caused by higher propensities to import industrial goods than to export traditional agricultural products and minerals . Lastly, there was the deteriorating terms of trade (Love, 1999). According to Prebisch, the implications of this division of labor were disastrous: the standard of living in the peripheries was declining compared to that of the core countries. The solution was agricultural mechanization and industrialization (Prebisch, 1949:4).

But these expectations were not realized as industrialization policies in the fifties did not lead to development. For a new generation of social scientists, it became necessary to go beyond an analysis of the fruits of industrialization and the policies advocated by ECLA. Dependentists assumed some of the premises established by Latin American Structuralism, particularly the segmented labor markets and monopolies in land tenure, inherited from the colonial past. They argued that both the Center and Periphery were part of a single and long term international process and constituted a structure of dependence. Like Structuralism, Dependency Analysis articulated its position through historical essays. However unlike ECLA’s scholars, dependentists concentrated on politics and class struggle in order to explain underdevelopment. Their main concern was to determine the specificity of the relations between social/political factors and economic development. They examined the diverse national social formations by assessing the historical overlap of capitalist with pre-capitalist modes of production. In some cases, they singled out for analysis, different types of dependent relations that had evolved in Latin America during the nineteenth century, that of export oriented economies (economias de expansión hacia afuera) or enclaves based on mines or plantations (Cardoso and Faletto, [1969] 1975). The sociological contribution of Dependency was, thus, to offer a new definition of underdevelopment combining the analysis of society with economy and politics, in specific historical situations

The Institutional Framework of Dependency Analysis

In the fifties and sixties, many institutional ‘titans’ competed for cultural and ideological influence in Latin America: public agencies and private foundations, such as US-AID, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Catholic Church. UNESCO’s Social Science Department promoted research and teaching of the social sciences, sponsoring programs all over the region. OAS and its Social Science Division also attempted to foster the development of these disciplines. And the Society of Jesus, created Centers of Information and Social Action (CIAS) as well as established Catholic Universities. The main concern of these international projects was economic progress and modernization. Chile received significant foreign aid as it welcomed these organizations into its territory. Several studies (Brunner, 1986; Devés Valdés, 2004; Garretón, 2005) have found that the exceptional stability of its political system, and the existence of international agencies, such as ECLA, opened up the academic labor market for social scientists, turning Santiago de Chile into an intellectual ‘cosmopolis’ by mid -sixties. Moreover, scholars from the Southern Cone exiled from military dictatorships, arrived here for institutional affiliation and reinforced intellectual engagement. A whole set of social and political conditions favoured the emergence of this country as a regional center of internationalization – all of which was stimulated by the growth of an important movement for social change, during the Presidencies of Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964-1970) and the socialist experience of Salvador Allende (1970-1973).

A brief comparison with Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo or Mexico City shows, however, that these metropolises had much higher cultural indicators than Santiago. While the former had a very welldeveloped publishing market, the latter only had an incipient graphic industry (Subercaseux, 2000). Foreign social scientists who lived in Santiago at the time describe it as a small, ‘provincial’ city, with poor cultural life. How did Chile become the axis of this intellectual movement and the laboratory for Dependency’s endogenous process of knowledge production? During the twentieth century, the Chilean State increasingly invested in higher education with the University of Chile becoming a nodal point for modernization and institutionalization of the system. The creation of the Bureau of Higher Education and the Rectors’ Council in 1954 together with the granting of administrative autonomy helped the education system to expand and to reinforce the professionalization of the faculty (Krebs, 1979). University enrollment had an early modern distribution of specializations with concentration in education and social sciences at the expense of Law, Medicine and other scientific graduate programs (Brunner, 1986:35). The public expenses on higher education doubled between 1961 (2,8%) and 1964 (5,7%) (Schiefelbein, 1968:62).

This expansion led to the growth of the University student body which mobilized and gained a strong presence in cities, becoming an increasingly important audience for policy makers and university academics. A generation of students involved with activism emerged with the Cuban Revolution (1959) and legitimized the value of political commitment. The tendency to sacrifice the present gains for the future (a mentality present in the catholic socialization of the Chilean middle-class) now materialized as a collective demand for a democratic university. Militant capital 4 (Matonti and Poupeau, 2004) spread to higher education, and created the conditions for the Reform movement of 1967, which first succeeded in the Catholic University of Santiago.

The Reform deepened the already existing university autonomy and reinforced a favourable ambience for critical scientific research, allowing for the establishment of interdisciplinary research centers. These institutes attracted scholars who had participated in demanding these changes who ultimately became the “think tanks” for national projects. These academics had security of employment through full-time posts and access to resources similar to those who were employed in research centers dependent on international agencies. Social scientists played a key role in organizing these new research centers and in debating the academic rules of work in the field. ‘Academic Excellence’, was thereby re-defined and understood as an assessment of ‘National Reality’.

This university movement played a central role in the growth of the intellectual activism which now extended onto the political arena, leading to the formation of the Movement of Unitary Popular Action (MAPU) –a leftist tendency within the Christian Democratic Party in power. This movement fractured the existing government led by Frei and consolidated the Popular Unity which, as a coalition, won the 1970 election.

The Construction of the Dependency Perspective

By the beginning of the sixties, many structuralists concluded that industrialization was not leading to long-lasting economic development. The discussions about whether developmental policies could decrease inequalities found reflection in the Latin American Institute of Social and Economic Planification (ILPES), created by the ECLA and United Nations. These debates gained momentum with the 1964 Brazilian coup d’état and the exile of academic scholars to Santiago. The arrival of Celso Furtado at the ILPES and the course he promoted from June 1964 on this theme, has been referred to as the founding moment of Dependency Analysis (Garcia, 2005).

Other critical visions had previously emerged in the Division of Social Development, headed by José Medina Echavarría. The latter’s work on the social conditions of development, presented at ECLA’s 1955 Conference, was one of the first threads for the sociological reformulation of Latin American Structuralism. Medina posed a sociological question when he discussed the contradiction between socio-cultural indicators and the economic growth index. In order to answer it, he worked with the analytical perspective of economic sociology and the Weberian historical interpretation of causal-significant relations. For him, the historical roots of underdevelopment were not only based on certain economic patterns but also on specific structures of power which
could be understood through historical sociology. Finally, he pointed out that the political
instability of Latin American countries was one of the main obstacles for economic development (Medina Echavarría, [1964]1980). Since 1957, Medina had been training a new generation of sociologists in the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO). Furthermore, he was responsible for attracting many South American exiles to ILPES, all of whom made crucial contributions to the theoretical renewal at ECLA.

While these debates evolved within ILPES, other exiled social scientists arrived at Santiago, and became affiliated to the University of Chile and the University of Concepción. The Chilean sociologist Eduardo Hamuy invited a group of exiles to the Center of Social and Economic Studies (CESO), a research institute of the University of Chile. Most of them were young Brazilian social scientists, socialized in student activism, who had taken part in the student movement at the National University of Brasilia. After the Brazilian coup d’état, they participated in the resistance against dictatorship, and some of them were arrested. These intellectuals analyzed Brazil´s structural crisis, since they intended to formulate a diagnosis that could facilitate a revolutionary program, different from the Communist Party’s proposal. According to Ruy Mauro Marini: Structuralism became the target of the critiques ‘because communists –more dedicated to history than to economics-, relied on ECLA’s ideas on the deterioration of exchange terms, structural dualism and the viability of an autonomous capitalist development, in order to assert the principles of the bourgeois-democratic, anti-imperialist and anti-feudalist revolution, inherited from the III International’ (Marini, 1999:23).

The Dependency focus arose, therefore, in these academic circles as a theoretical problem intending to re-diagnose underdevelopment within a collective and interdisciplinary reflection. Dependence was outlined as a historical situation, occurring under certain national and international conditions, as the result of the global structure of underdevelopment. It was not seen as an external imposition, but as a relationship between industrialized and peripheral countries. The critique of developmental policies and economicism led to questions on the: a) rationality of the productive structure, b) legitimacy principles of Latin American states and c) struggle for power.

In addition to the reflection on the Structuralist legacy, the heterodox readings of Marxism and the recourse to Weber, there was another theoretical and methodological tradition that gave the final ‘stitches’ to the new focus. I am referring to a set of “ knowledges” that had previously developed in the region, in analyzing the historical relationship between social structures and political change. One of these efforts was outlined in the book, Economía de la Sociedad Colonial (Economy of Colonial Society) by Sergio Bagú, published in 1949. He argued: ‘It wasn´t capitalism what appeared in America in the period we studied, but colonial capitalism. There was no servitude on a large scale, but slavery with multiple shades, hidden very often under complex and fallacious juridical formulas. ‘Ibero-America was born to integrate the cycle of new-born capitalism and not to extend the agonizing feudalistic phase’ (Bagú, 1949:261). Bagú’s project attempted to create a unified history of the continent, on the basis of available colonial documents and the contributions of other Latin American writers.

Osvaldo Sunkel recalls that the textbooks for training courses given at ECLA and ILPES were based on two major sources: a) CEPAL’s 1949 Study, and b) the curriculum of the chair of Economic History of the Universidad de Chile, where Bagú´s book was read (Sunkel, 2007). This historical approach was the basis for the questioning of developmental policies and further provided sociology with a valuable tool to rethink underdevelopment.

Dependency and Dependentists

Considered as a whole, the ‘dependentist group’ consisted of about thirty social scientists, born between the end of the twenties and the beginning of the forties. Except for Celso Furtado and Aníbal Pinto, the majority was between twenty-seven and thirty-seven years of age; half of them were economists and the other half were sociologists, lawyers or political scientists. With the exception of André Gunder Frank, Franz Hinkelammert and Armand Mattelart, the rest were Latin Americans. South Americans made up 90% and half of these were Brazilians. During the most productive years of Dependency Analysis (1964-1970), they were all living in Chile and worked as full-time researchers at national or international interdisciplinary centers5. There was a high degree of inter-institutional circulation. Dependentists participated in these networks linking multiple institutions through lectures, workshops and informal gatherings. Their work spread as mimeos or as copies within classrooms, and also at meetings, cafés and private homes (Dos Santos, 2006).

The debates were very lively. One of the main disputes was over the social characterization of the continent. While André Gunder Frank argued that Latin American capitalism had existed since colonization, most dependentists claimed that it had become the dominant mode of production by the end of the nineteenth century. Another relevant issue was the theoretical position of the national question within the framework of class relations. For Francisco Weffort, ‘there was no real contradiction between national and exterior domination because dependence was generated from within the class structure –as well as social change’ (1970: 392). According to Fernando H. Cardoso(1970), dependency showed a particular type of articulation between social classes, the productive system and the state, in a particular historical situation.

There was remarkable consensus between them to assert the ‘movement from economic development towards dependency’, which involved analysis of historical structures, attention to political power and class struggle. Opposing the idea of a ‘universal’ methodology, the new social scientists believed that the possibility to explain Latin American reality depended on the determination of its specific problems. The methods had to be adjusted to concrete situations of the region. In short, dependentists were not only trying to create a new theoretical perspective, but also a ‘new style of research and researchers’ (Cardoso and Castells, 1972:18).

From Structuralism to Dependency: the ILPES Work-groups

Social scientists in ILPES contributed decisively to the dependentist discussion and gave depth to an assessment of the structuralist experience on developmental policies. Most did research on their own national processes, like Aníbal Quijano, who made a major contribution to the analysis of Peruvian class structure in the context of imperialistic domination. One of Quijano’s main interests was social marginality and its structural link with the expansion of capitalism in Latin America (Quijano, 1977). For his part, Aníbal Pinto made incisive observations on the politics of dependence in his Política y desarrollo (Politics and Development), published in 1968. With the other dependentists, Pinto joined the debates at work in ILPES, and also started lecturing at a postgraduate school of
Economics at the University of Chile. This contact with the national academia helps spread militant capital within international agencies as well.

One of the work-groups emerged in the Training Division, directed by Osvaldo Sunkel. With Pedro Paz and Octavio Rodríguez he analyzed the history of the concepts of development/underdevelopment, in order to distinguish them from economic growth and industrialization. The book El subdesarrollo latinoamericano y la teoría del desarrollo (Latin American Underdevelopment and the Theory of Development) (1970) published by Sunkel and Paz defined underdevelopment as part of the global historical process, in which both phenomena were linked and mutually conditioned. As other ECLA’s experts, during those years, Sunkel resigned his post in ILPES, and joined the Institute of International Studies, at the University of Chile in order to be more independent and to express his personal ideas freely (Sunkel, 2007).

Secondly, we should mention the group of the Social Development Division, from which numerous dependentist contributions as well as mutual criticism emerged. Fernando H. Cardoso and Enzo Faletto played a critical role in this endeavour. Their interventions were significant not only within ILPES but also at Chilean academic institutions. They lectured at University of Chile, FLACSO, and they discussed with CESO research groups. Cardoso proposed a sociological interpretation of underdevelopment on the basis of his reading of Marx and Weber. He found an excellent complement in Enzo Faletto, who was a historian and was reading Antonio Gramsci at the time. Their famous work Dependencia y Desarrollo en América Latina (Dependency and Development in Latin America), attempted to ‘explain economic processes as social processes’, in order to express a theoretical intersection where economic power was articulated as social and political domination.
They affirmed that it was ‘through politics that a certain social group can impose a mode of production on the rest of society’ (Cardoso and Faletto, [1969] 1975: 20). The text tried to show the consequences of the relationship between the State, social classes and the productive structure in different historical periods. The idea was to explain the form of such relationships in each situation of dependence. They proposed, in this sense, that Dependency should be used as a ‘causalsignificant’ concept, suitable to point out relevant structures of power. Faced with mechanical interpretations, the authors argued that even though external impact was certainly substantial, it did not imply that national history was ‘the pure reflection’ of the changes occurring in the central hegemonic pole. International links limited the possibilities of action within the nation-state, but, at the same time, groups, classes and social movements could perpetuate, transform or break those constraints ([1969] 1975: 162-163).

Dependency Perspective at FLACSO

Between 1964 and 1966, other exiles arrived at FLACSO, many of them escaping from Argentinian and Brazilian military regimes, such as Vilmar E. Faría, Regina Faría, Ayrton Fausto, Patricio Biedma and Hugo Perret. The intense inter-institutional circulation of students and lecturers, favoured by agreements with Chilean universities, caused a major shift within FLACSO’s initial theoretical currents, now inclined towards dependency studies. Enzo Faletto’s entrance, after leaving ECLA and the arrival of Sergio Bagú in 1970, reinforced this trend and fostered intense intellectual activity within the centre. Marcos Kaplan and Inés Reca carried out research projects on technological dependence and professional ‘brain drain’. Moreover, FLACSO’s Revista Latinoamericana de Ciencia Política (Latin American Political Science Review) played an important part in publishing dependentist debates, as it allowed the circulation of ideas between work-groups.

Vilmar Faría had received statistical training, and combined the professionalizing trends at FLACSO with the structuralist approach set forth by Dependency Analysis. He was interested in the relationship between economic development and the legitimacy of the dominant groups. With this purpose, he analyzed the evolution of the role played by the Brazilian business sector in the changes that occurred with their intervention in State decision-making (Faría, 1971). By carrying out such surveys of businessmen, he tried to understand the nature of class alliances that may occur in Brazil after the military coup.

The CESO Work-groups

Two centers related with the dependency focus were created between 1964 and 1966 at the
University of Chile. One of them was the Institute for International Studies (IEI) and the other was the Center for Socio-Economic Studies (CESO), which was part of the Faculty of Economics. Claudio Véliz played an important role in the development of the first one, and attracted Chilean researchers who had made major contributions at ILPES, like Osvaldo Sunkel, as well as highly prestigious Brazilian exiles, like Darcy Ribeiro. The second center recruited Chilean economists Roberto Pizarro, Sergio Ramos and Orlando Caputo, as well as numerous groups of South American exiles. At CESO, André Gunder Frank wrote The Development of Underdevelopment (1969) and Vânia Bambirra developed her Tipologia da Dependencia (Typology of Dependency, 1970).

Militant capital was increasingly relevant in CESO’s activity. In fact, under Allende’s presidency, the center worked as a permanent assembly –institutional decisions were taken by all members (Reca, 2006). Researchers at CESO conducted major studies on world economy, and wrote on the changing conditions within Chile. Particularly, Roberto Pizarro and Orlando Caputo carried out an empirical research Las nuevas formas del capital extranjero en Chile (The New Forms of Foreign Capital in Chile, 1970).

Studies on international dependence were carried out mainly at its research department, under the direction of Theotônio Dos Santos. His aim was to give an account of the main trends in economic development in Latin America between 1950 and 1965. According to him, foreign capital no longer played its historical role, which had been to boost the productivity levels of Latin American economies with the stimulus provided by the prospect of high profit. This rendered the autonomous development of a national capitalist economy impossible. One of the main polemical issues of Dependency came up, precisely, in Dos Santos’ first published paper, where he argued that ‘dependent nations only expanded as a reflection of the expansion in the economies of dominant countries’. In the text, however, he claimed that dependence had to be conceptualized just as a conditioning situation that could be modified through a radical political change (1968).

The Centre of Studies on the National Reality (CEREN) Work-groups

While the University of Chile had played a major role in the development of social sciences and had exerted great influence on the establishment of FLACSO and ILPES, the Catholic University had remained relatively isolated until the mid-1960s. The University Reform of 1967, which was launched by this Institution, created interdisciplinary centers that enjoyed great autonomy and had abundant financial resources. One of the most important was the Centre of Studies on the National Reality (CEREN). As at CESO, there was an explicit adherence to Marxism and support for the Allende administration.

At CEREN two dependentist work-group were located. Franz Hinkelammert’s team confronted economicism and gave greater importance to ideological issues. In consonance with an influential line of thought in Western Marxism that sustained the existence of the structure/superstructure edifice, the dependentist work-group gave supremacy to the sphere of consciousness. They pronounced themselves against ‘capitalist developmentalism’ as they claimed that the foundations of a ‘developed’ society could only be laid in the context of socialism (Hinkelammert et alia, 1970:13). Armand Mattelart, Ariel Dorfman, Mabel Pichini and Michèle Mattelart constituted another work group that did research along these lines. Their studies focused on what was called ‘cultural imperialism’ at the time. More precisely, they analyzed the role of mass media in the creation of the ideology of American domination (Mattelart, 2005).

Was Dependency a Dependent Knowledge?

In September 1973, a military coup dismantled interdisciplinary research centers created in Chile and forced scholars into exile. The analysis of underdevelopment and social change, which had been top priority for the Latin American academy, was substituted with the concern for democracy. By mid-1990s, most social scientists considered Dependency Analysis as an outdated perspective, worn out by globalization, and useless after the effacement of nation-states. This reaction against Dependency within the academia took place, paradoxically, when economic and political dependence was reinforced, because of the impact of the Latin American external debt.

This situation raises a set of questions. The first related to its nature. Was Dependency only an endogenous approach and a particularistic argument oriented to Latin American experience or could it be ‘unthinked’ so that it could be made universal through an epistemic critique of European nineteenth-century paradigms, as it was suggested by Wallerstein (2003)? The second related to its demise. Was the brevity of Dependency’s ‘vital period’ a result of a massive internal intellectual failure? Or was it the consequence of an external factor –the dictatorship and its effect in the loss of academic autonomy gained in the sixties? In other words, was the defeat of Dependency the result of new theoretical trends and agendas imposed within the international academic system?

Dependentists were aware of the dominance of Eurocentric patterns and of the necessity to think autonomously with respect to Northern social sciences. However, with the exception of technological dependence and the ‘brain drain’, studied by some scholars, they did not analyze academic dependence as an empirical fact because their research was focused on political and economic structures of domination. They enriched the structuralist method of historical diagnosis of the region and contributed to the re-thinking of the concept of underdevelopment. In order to do so, they critically articulated a set of European and Latin American traditions.

It is well known that academic imperialism has been a matter of concern for the social sciences, at least, since the sixties. More recently, Pierre Bourdieu denounced the existence of diverse mechanisms of domination in the international circulation of ideas. Through ‘imperialism of the universal’ (2000: 154), a set of categories and theories are imposed worldwide, though these reflect local conditions and contexts such as those of the United States or France. Accordingly, ‘universal sociology’ has been a result of the universalization of a particular path, emerging at a specific space and time. Sayed Farid Alatas postulated various types of academic dependence: on ideas; on the technology of education; on aid for research as well as teaching; on investment in education; and
others (2003: 604).

At the institutional and financial level, Dependency Analysis was produced within research centers supported by a) private/public foreign aid, b) regional resources coming from Latin American states, and c) national resources provided by the Chilean Government. However, during the period discussed in this paper, the international flows were nationalized by the intervention of a strong state. This led to the emergence of an autonomous academic milieu, with a greater intellectual freedom. Besides, the partial breakdown of Eurocentric reason promoted peripheral movements and critical thought. This complex experience provided the social frame, the institutions and the engagement that were necessary for the appearance of a theoretical focus that was entirely created in Latin America.

The passage through Chile was the determining factor for the emergence of Dependency Analysis and the realization of two different processes within Latin American sociology: on the one hand, the consolidation of a set of social “knowledges”, and on the other, the recognition of a new group of scientists. By the end of the sixties, dependence was the main topic of Latin American social sciences and Dependency Analysis had a brief international circulation. However, success was more effective for some actors than for the theory itself.

For roughly fifteen years, ’Dependency theory’ circulated widely within the field of Latin American sociology, in a limited way within the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia, and only marginally within English speaking academies (Blomstrom & Hettne, 1990). In the United States, it was mainly discussed in sociological environments: a) academic journals, such as Current Sociology; b) Latin American Studies’ publications, such as Latin American Perspectives and c) radical journals like NACLA Newsletter (North American Congress Latin America), the Review of Radical Political Economics and Monthly Review. Within Europe the circulation of dependency theory was to a great extent influenced by its promotion by Dudley Seers at the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex. In spite of Seers’ efforts, and the fact that some works were translated into English, the writings of Dependency remained available mainly in Spanish (Oteiza, 1978).

Finally, dependentists found more recognition rather than Dependency Analysis itself. These young sociologists were struggling to gain a place in the field, and they were able to replace the first generation of the so-called ‘scientific sociology’. In the eighties and nineties, some of them were marginalized, along with the ‘defeat’ of Dependency. Others reconverted their academic capital into political credit: as a matter of fact, one of them became President of Brazil. In order to understand the constitution of new intellectual and political elite in the region this issue has to be taken into consideration but the subject lies beyond the scope of this paper.


1 I wish to thank Sujata Patel and Verónica Perera for their valuable comments on this paper.

2 Latin American structuralism is one of a family of structuralisms. This school of thought attempted to explain international economy as a structure of unequal relations. Unlike other kinds of Structuralism, one of its particularities was the historical approach based on Colonial Studies and long-term overview of economic production.

3 Militant Capital is a set of know-how that is forged and put into practice in collective action. Latin American catholic martirology is an exemplary case of the ‘exportable’ feature of these dispositions, which were reconverted as a revolutionary commitment within the guerrillas.

4 I have elsewhere presented a panorama of the Latin American dependentist tradition including those social scientists based outside Santiago but clearly contributing to the construction of the dependentist approach (see Beigel, 2006).


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