chapter  1
6 Pages

Editors' introduction: beyond the sociology of development

It is thus the contention of the editors-one with which we believe all of the contributors to this volume would agree-that the shallow and ultimately nonsensical character of much traditional 'sociology of development' resulted from the separation within academic disciplines of the 'social' and 'psychological' from the concrete historical and 'economic' aspects of change. Rather than issue yet

another plea for 'interdisciplinary' and ideologically demystified research, however, the intention of this volume is to provide the reader with actual examples of field studies and theoretical reviews which indicate the directions which we feel a conceptually more adequate study of developing societies should take. The writings of Andre Gunder Frank have proved crucial to us for two major reasons: first, it was principally Frank who provided the definitive dissection of mainstream studies in the sociology of development. His critique was devastating not only because he wrote as a Marxist —but equally as much because he wrote as a trained economist who could pick apart the flimsy assumptions of the economically naive writers he attacked. Secondly, Frank was not only-or even primarily —a critic of academic sociology; he also provided the outlines of a macro-structural paradigm of the way in which economic underdevelopment in dependent economies is actively maintained in a vicious spiral by the very forces-foreign economic investment and aid-which conventional economic theory held to be necessary for the development of such societies. It is this combination of critique of sociology with an alternative and suggestive theoretical orientation which accounts for the centrality of Frank's contribution for the various studies in this volume.3 As will be seen, however, we have not adopted a reverential posture toward Frank's work-quite the opposite; the dominant spirit in these papers has been to try to test Frank's ideas scientifically by applying them to new empirical situations, and to pursue alternative or complementary lines of theoretical enquiry where these appear fruitful or challenging.