Recent scholarship on state autonomy in the Third World has been influenced by the dependency thesis that capital accumulation at the core of the world economy is associated with economic underdevelopment and political dependency at the periphery. Dependency reasoning is rooted in a devastating empirical critique of the once prevalent modernization paradigm, in which national state policy was the central independent variable. According to dependency theory, peripheral nations' subordinate structural positions in the international political economy results in sacrifice of authoritative policy making to foreign investors, bankers, experts, governments, and institutions or their local counterparts. Typically specializing in primary commodity exports, dependent nations therefore fall into a vicious cycle of deficits, debt, and fiscal crisis that worsens whenever the price of their prime commodity export falls.

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Copyright © 1988 Pluto Journals. This article first appeared in Arab Studies Quarterly 10:2 (1988), 193-213.

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