Questions for Discussion
Fall 2001

P. Klarén, "Lost Promise: Explaining Latin American Underdevelopment"
H. Wiarda, "Toward a Framework for the Study of Political Change in the Iberic-Latin Tradition: The Corporative Model"
L. Harrison, "Underdevelopment is a State of Mind"

  1. What, according to Klarén, were major intellectual precursors of the modernization theory developed in the 1950s and 1960s?  What key assumptions did theorists as diverse as Marx, Weber, and Durkheim share that subsequently informed modernization theory?
  2. When and why did modernization appear as a theory of social change? What are the main tenets of modernization theory?  Do all modernization theorists share the same core set of assumptions about the nature of social, economic and political change in the world?
  3. Why, according to Harrision, accounts for Latin America’s underdevelopment?

    Is Harrison a modernization theorist?  In what ways is his analysis consistent with the modernization approach?  In what ways, if any, does it depart from earlier versions of this theory?

  4. On what grounds does Howard Wiarda critique modernization theory?  What evidence does he cite in support of his critique?  Do you find his analysis and evidence compelling?
  5. Wiarda offers an alternative theory of political change in Latin America based in the idea of a "Iberic-Latin" tradition and corporatist political institutions and practices.    What are the main ideological, social, economic and political characteristics associated with this tradition?  How do corporatist institutions function and how do they differ from pluralist political institutions?  How have these institutions affected political development in the region?
  6. How, according to Wiarda, does political change occur within the corporatist model? What evidence does he cite in support of his view of change?  What factors might lead to more significant change in this model? What does Wiarda think will characterize the new model of politics? Have such changes occurred in the past three decades since Wiarda published this article?
  7. In what ways does Wiarda’s view differ from prior approaches to explaining change that were derived from modernization theory?  Is Wiarda’s theory really a version of modernization theory or is it a different animal?


Modernization theory
Great Transformation
Patron-client relations

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This page last modified October 11, 2001