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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

Globalisation, development and underdevelopment

Published: 16 July 2008 Origin:  Politics and International Relations

Dr Ben Selwyn 's research focuses on causes and consequences of development and underdevelopment in the global south. He undertook his PhD research in North East Brazil where he investigated how relatively inexperienced and lowly capitalised firms achieved international competitiveness (thus leading to employment generation and capital accumulation) and how these processes impacted upon the regions work force. He has written several articles on these subjects.

More recently Ben gave a talk to around 100 members and supporters of the University of Southampton U8 society (its name is derived from the eighth Millennium Goal – which seeks to develop a global partnership for development) on the subject of globalisation, development and underdevelopment.

The talk was lively and provoked animated discussion from students.

Ben discussed how the World Bank and most mainstream commentators on development argue that more globalisation (economic openness) leads to more development and use China and India as evidence of this causal relationship.

Ben argued that China and India are much less globalised (having relatively high trade barriers) than many of the poorest countries in the world. Moreover, many countries in Sub Saharan Africa that are often referred to by these commentators as ‘less globalised’ historically have been tightly integrated globally since at least the period of slavery, but equally importantly, since the scramble for Africa in the late 19th Century when European powers forced them to specialise as suppliers of primary resources.

A problem that African countries have faced is that prices of many of these primary resources have been declining relative to prices of more technically sophisticated manufactured imports, hence leading to immiserating growth (increasing output but decreasing returns).

Questions and discussion included the extent to which recent China-Africa partnerships could contribute to new development opportunities for African countries.

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