29 May 2015

Conceptual Background:
In analyzing the politics associated with technological dualism and underdevelopment whether in Africa, Asia or Latin America one can do so well to draw on ideas and thoughts of Guyanese Scholar and activist Dr. Walter Rodney. In his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Rodney observes that:

Underdevelopment is not absence of development because every people have developed in one way or another and to a greater or lesser extent. Underdevelopment makes sense only as a means of comparing levels of development. It is very much tied to fact that human social development has been uneven and from strictly economic viewpoint some human groups have advanced further by producing more and becoming more wealthy. He goes on further to point out that in some quarters it has often been thought wise to substitute the term “developing” with “underdeveloped” to avoid any unpleasantness which may be attached to the second term which might be interpreted as meaning underdeveloped mentally, physically, morally or in any other respect. (2001:23-24)

Smith and Wallerstein observe that one of the basic processes of the historical trajectory of the capitalist world-economy has been the deepening of the distinction between, and the polarization of, core and periphery. They further continue to show that core and periphery are not discrete entities but rather a relational antimony and that peripherality exists only in relation to, and by contrast with the, coreness (1992:225).

What is Dualism?

Dualism is a concept widely discussed in the Third World economics. It represents the existence and the persistence of increasing divergences between the rich and poor nations and peoples of various levels. Specifically, the concept of dualism embraces four key elements:
1 Different sets of conditions, of which some are superior and others are inferior, can co-exist in a given space at the same time for example, the co-existence of modern and traditional methods of production in urban and rural sectors
2 This co-existence is chronic and not merely transitional. It is not due to a temporary phenomenon which in time will eliminate the discrepancy between superior and inferior elements
3 The degrees of superiority or inferiority not only fail to show any signs of rapidly diminishing, they even have an inherent tendency to increase.
4 The interrelations between superior and inferior elements are such that the existence of the superior elements does little or nothing to pull up the inferior. In fact, it may actually serve to push the latter down (Todaro, 1982:92-93)
Higgins (1999) in his book, Economic Development: Problems, Principles and Policies illuminate J.H Boeke one of the proponents of social dualism theory based primarily on his studies of the Indonesian economy. Boeke emphasized that, western economic theory is totally inapplicable to the underdeveloped areas. In general, his conclusion was that the kindest thing the Western world can do for the underdeveloped areas is to leave them alone; any effort to develop them along Western lines can only hasten their retrogression and decay (229).

Theory of Technological Dualism

As an alternative to Boeke‟s social dualism, Professor Higgins developed the theory of technological dualism. Technological dualism implies the use of different production functions in the advanced sector of an underdeveloped economy. Higgins builds his theory around two goods, two factors of production and two sectors with their factor endowments and production functions. Of the two sectors, the industrial sector is engaged in plantations, mines, oil fields, refineries, or large industry. It is capital intensive and is characterized by fixed technical coefficients. The rural sector is engaged in producing foodstuffs and handicrafts or very small industries (Jhingan, 2007: 203-206).
Higgins theory explains the nature of developing society‟s economies especially in Africa where you find advances in technology say in manufacturing and low levels of technology use especially in agriculture with many people in rural areas using hoes and other simple tools for farming. The intermediate technology model postulated by E.F Schumacher provides room for full employment and technological advancement in developing countries.
The Role of Intermediate Technology in Economic Growth
The originator of the concept of intermediate technology was E.F. Schumacher who correctly pointed out that the chief problem before the underdeveloped labour surplus economies was to provide employment to the people. For a poor man the chance to work is the greatest of all needs, and even poorly paid and relatively unproductive work is better than idleness. According to him, “if we define the level of technology in terms of equipment ‘equipment cost per work place’, we can call the indigenous technology of a typical developing country-symbolically speaking… a £1-technology while that of developed countries would be called a £1000-technology. If effective help is to be brought to those who need it most, a technology is required

which would range in some intermediate position between the £1-technology and the £1000-technology. Let us call it again a symbolically£100-technology. Such an intermediate technology would be immensely more productive than indigenous technology but would also be immensely cheaper than the sophisticated highly capital-intensive technology of the modern industry (Misra and Puri, 2006:111). The question of using intermediate technology or appropriate technology is not the main issue but rather the issue should be does the technology provide enough room for advancement? Time tested business and entrepreneurial concept of start small, with whatever you have, where you are is ably illustrated here.

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