The Myth of Economic Development
The Myth of Economic Development
Translated by Jordan B. Jones

This classic work remains one of the most incisive contributions to dependency theory in the Latin American context. While agreeing with other dependency theorists that underdevelopment on the Latin American periphery was structurally connected to the accumulation of capital in the advanced economies at the core of the global capitalist system, Furtado went further and argued that the very idea of development in the periphery is a myth, deceiving countries into focusing on narrow economic factors to the detriment of their human well-being. Moreover, the costs of development in terms of environmental destruction would be catastrophic for the planet: the idea that the poor in Latin America and elsewhere might someday enjoy the livelihoods of today’s rich people is unrealizable in practice, and any attempt to generalize the lifestyles of the world’s well-off would lead to the collapse of civilization. Adhering to the ideas of development and progress is not only misleading—it is also a form of cultural domination that stifles creativity and blocks the imagination of alternative lifestyles that would be better aligned with the conditions of life in Latin America and elsewhere.

This prescient analysis of economic development and underdevelopment in Latin America retains its relevance today and will be of interest to anyone concerned with issues of political economy and culture in the Global South.

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  • October 2020
  • 112 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $19.95
  • 9781509540136
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9781509540143
  • Open eBook $19.95
  • 9781509540150
Table of Contents
Introduction by Ndongo Samba Sylla
1. The Prophecy of Collapse
2. The Structural Evolution of the Capitalist System
3. Large Companies in New Center-Periphery Relations
4. Options for Peripheral Countries
5. The Myth of Economic Development
About the Author
Celso Furtado was a major figure of economic thought who served as Brazilian Minister of Planning and Minister of Culture. He was nominated for the 2004 Nobel Prize.
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“The Latin American ‘structuralists’ made a Copernican jump in the understanding of economic development by taking the closed-system world economy, rather than the country, as the unit of analysis, and showing ‘developed’ and ‘less developed’ to be like Siamese twins. Furtado was a leader of this school, and this short book is an outstanding example of the power of the approach, compared to that of the neoclassical mainstream.”
Robert H. Wade, London School of Economics

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