Dependency theory tended to see the ‘root cause’ of underdevelopment as rich world governments (or nation states) – they believed poor countries remained poor following a history of colonialism where powerful countries such as Britain colonised other areas of the globe, for example India and many African countries and took control of these regions politically and economically, running them for their own benefit.
Dependency theory believed the unequal relationship between the coloniser and colonised (or core and satellite) disadvantaged poor countries to such an extent that they were still in a state of dependency when the colonial powers left in the 1950s and 1960s. The ex colonies were effectively turned into the exporters of low value primary products such as Tea, which kept them poor.
HOWEVER, WST points out that today nation states have lost their power to control poor countries, and that there are ex colonies which have developed by becoming semi-periphery countries, or manufacturing – India and Mexico are good examples.
Another criticism WST makes of DT is that rich ex coloniser countries can go down the development hierarchy because Nation States are no longer the most powerful actors in the modern global system controlled more by TNCs and the WTO.
A second criticism of Dependency Theory comes from People Centred Development.
DT still saw industrialisation as the root to development for poor countries, except that it should be controlled by nation states (socialism).
PCD criticises this as horrific things still happened through socialist development – as in Russia and China, and also point out that the nation state may be too large to take into account the diverse wishes of many local communities.
PCD would rather see much more diverse, localised forms of development, decided on by the people, rather than development imposed by nation states.