The End of Peripheries? On the Enduring Relevance of Structuralism for Understanding Contemporary Global Development

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Abstract

Despite repeated chronicles of a death foretold, centre–periphery analysis remains very relevant for understanding the challenges of contemporary development. It reveals certain common asymmetries and constraints that structure the integration, lagging and subordination of the global South in the current world order through ongoing technological, industrial and financial dissemination. The precise forms of lagging and subordination have changed over time and context, in symbiosis with changes in the overall capitalist system, although the systemic principles remain pertinent. These can be evaluated according to three propositions: technological lagging; declining terms of trade; and pro-cyclical macroeconomic adjustment in the peripheries. Accordingly, global imbalances are better understood as an evolution of US-centred hegemony and the subordinated accommodation of ‘rising powers’ including China, rather than a weakening and rebalancing of US power vis-`a-vis these ‘rising powers’, as per conventional interpretations. The possibility that we might be witnessing a reinvigoration of US hegemony — for a second time in the post-war era — is one that needs to be taken seriously, particularly if this becomes associated with a deepening of imperialism rather than emancipation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-732
Number of pages33
JournalDevelopment and Change
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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