APRIL 1981 - VOLUME 2 - NUMBER 4
It is not utopian to ask authors who write on issues of economic development to combine theoretical insights, empirical data, and pragmatic suggestions for implementing a development strategy. At least one of the three new books in Third World urban development here under consideration comes close. Casual Work and Poverty in Third World Cities is the finest work in urban development since Janice Perlman's 1976 opus Myth of Marginality. Bromley and Gerry head a group of English and non-Western scholars who have carefully merged important theoretical questions and real-and sometimes moving-case studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin American. In the book they demonstrate the linkages between beggars, pushcart vendors, garbage sifters and other poor urban dwellers, and the larger division of labor at the city, national, and international levels.
New analytical approaches and research methods are demonstrated in Bromley and Gerry's collection, but the weakest part of the book is its treatment of systemic alternatives. There are cogent critiques of current government policies, and some pointers as to prescriptions, but little sustained discussion of practical steps that a Third World country should take.
The Cities of the Poor is the product of British development consultants writing for other urban development consultants who are involved in projects like those the World Bank sponsors. It is, in essence, a mainstream technical work. It provides topical outlines, case studies and commonplace representations of each aspect of the given project as viewed from the donor agency: the planning framework, the micro-economic and financial contexts, and aspects of the physical environment of each city.
Alan Turner, author of five of the ten chapters, shows some theoretical understanding that outside resources will never suffice. The poor will have to use their own resources to build their own houses. Turner also accepts E.F. Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful thesis that employment creation must be the guiding premise of a project. But his sensitivity on this issue is not matched by an understanding of the resistance to change created by bureaucracies and by conflicting interests in the local society or in the world system.
In Politics and Policy Implementation in the Third World, Merilee Grindle and her fellow American social scientists are concerned with the impacts of "policy content" and "policy context." They present nine case studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America and demonstrate the ability of politics to distort development efforts. Both rural and urban cases reflect the many ways in which this happens. In Zambia, for instance, President Kenneth Kaunda's over-ambitious, highly publicized goals for rural development created high expectations among the populace. The Zambian Department of Cooperatives found its goals were not clearly ordered and success was difficult to measure. Its leadership was politically oriented. Goals became short-run and political rather than long-run and developmental.
Only two of the chapters of the book consider larger questions of political economy. The narrow focus of most chapters, and the general lack of attention to recent development literature, renders the collection useful primarily to beginning students of development administration.
One is left further convinced by these three works that realistic prescriptions for changing the system and improving mass human welfare require three elements. Analysis must have a historical basis. It must link microdevelopment issues with the larger accumulation process of the world system. And it must show how wealth and poverty result from the workings of this system.
In an elegant chapter of Casual Work, Manfred Bieneteld provides the necessary historical framework. When feudal cities in Europe and elsewhere were transformed by capitalism, it was not automatically beneficial to the inhabitants of the cities, contrary to the contention of progress theorists. Many cities stagnated. Surplus labor hurt workers' wages. The dynamics of international trade spread benefits unequally.
The urban poor are not isolated economic atoms but subjects of the parasitic efforts of corporations and states to grow, control, and profit. As Bienefeld concludes, the real world condition of post-colonial cities is one where the urban poor compete in a global system which denies them the capacity to win.
The Bromley-Gerry and Grindle collections present several portraits of the antagonism between the interest of the state and the urban poor. In Chandigarh (India), city authorities, following a master plan for urban growth and cognizant of the interest of rich shopkeepers, consistently disrupted the organizational efforts of hawkers to gain and retain a regular market space.
The bankruptcy of the liberal incremental solution to urban development-that which sees benefits "trickling down" to the poor-is most concretely revealed in the case study of Dakar (Senegal). Petty producers have had to buy raw materials from the dregs of the national and international market. Much or all of their sales may be to those markets. The result is subordination, for their growth and development would threaten larger established firms and foreign interests. A few small producers get government or private contracts and move up the scale, but the vast majority are denied resources, credit and market opportunities. This is not a just, stable, or productive situation.
The reader is left by all three volumes wondering why serious development practitioners in the 1980s still refuse to make intelligent links between macro and microeconomic processes. This failure results in part from the ideology of harmony in Western social science, the lack of development evaluation system-wide, and the politically threatening nature of most development situations.
This study, based on 1980 data, traces the connections among 100 of the largest U.S. corporations and banks. It reveals a pattern of economic power concentrated in a few institutions that are tightly linked by common shareholders and directors.
Six years ago, the late Senator Lee Metcalf (D-Montana) began investigating the holdings of institutional investors-banks, investment companies, pension funds. He also examined the arrangements whereby one person serves as director of two companies, commonly known as interlocking directorates.
Metcalf's subcommittee has published its results in a series of landmark reports that underscore the need for greater disclosure of corporate ownership and control. Unfortunately, with conservative Republicans in command of the Senate, this latest addition to Metcalf's work may signal an end to his valuable legacy.
The report contains computerized profiles on 100 companies, giving basic statistics on size and listing the holdings of the 24 largest institutional stockholders. Each profile also names the directors and corporations with which the business is interlocked.
Charts compare the control among firms in the same industry, by listing the amount of stock held in competing corporations by the same institutions and the number of indirect interlocks that occur when two directors of companies sit together on the board of a third corporation.
From its data, the study concludes, "At the top of the structure of American Industry, one institution, J.P. Morgan, was far and away the most dominant investor." At the end of 1979, Morgan held $18.5 billion in stock, over twice that of the second largest investor. Morgan was also the top institutional investor in I S companies including RCA, IBM and Mobil.
The study also found extensive direct and indirect interlocking directorships among the 100 companies in the study. Citicorp, the third largest institutional investor, had 49 direct interlocks with the companies studied; Morgan had 31.
There are certainly other sources for this type of information. But most are prohibitively expensive, few present as many graphs and as much supplementary information, and none bears the imprimatur of a U.S. Senate Committee.
Copies are available from the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, 3308 DSOB, Washington, D.C. 20510.
- George Riley
This is an important contribution to development literature which has not received the attention it is due. Bergquist, his colleagues and graduate students at Duke have provided detailed reviews of 336 books and articles, appearing through 1977, that represent the cream of the literature on dependency and development theory.
In both the introductory essay and the longer reviews, the bibliographers provide cogent and subtle comparisons of different writers and schools of thought. The discussions of non-English texts and the summaries of collected works will be particularly valuable to students at any stage of learning.
Any collective effort has some uneven points, but the flaws of this one are more a function of the fast-evolving field than of the bibliographers. The literature is evolving so quickly that a supplement is already needed.
One substantive weakness this bibliography does have, however, is its failure to address practical issues of participatory development. European and Third World scholars looking for a guide to what they call alternative development will not find much here in the way of guidance.
Given the need for accessible bibliographies in the field of economic development, any new bibliography should be welcome. But this one may well do more harm than good.
It compiles about 2,000 sources, books and articles published primarily between 1970 and 1978, and arranges them under some 140 topical or country headings. Most of the annotations come from Foreign Affairs, the Journal of Economic Literature, or publisher's blurbs. There is no further indexing.
The ideological bias of the compiler and his annotators consistently leans toward the mainstream economic development and political economy writings of the 1950s and 1960s. Virtually all progressive and neo-Marxist writing is excluded.