University of Sussex
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Dependency theory and Eastern bloc trade: reformulating a forgotten paradigm

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posted on 2023-06-08, 21:31 authored by Oliver Weiss
This thesis is concerned with the intentions and effects of subsidised trade within the Eastern bloc. It argues that the core Soviet objective in Eastern Europe from the Thaw onwards was not exploitation for economic gain; subsidisation in return for political concessions; or an ideologically-driven desire for socialist integration, but instead to secure the dependence of the smaller socialist economies on the USSR. It is argued that advances can be made on existing literature by employing a concept of dependence which is capable of linking-up the primarily political concerns that motivated socialist international economic policy with the economic consequences for development that resulted. In order to accomplish this, a revised version of dependency theory (DT) formed through a critique of classical dependency work is used. DT is proposed as a starting-point for two reasons: firstly it was concerned to look at the interrelation between international processes and national development, a notable absence from the literature on Eastern bloc trade, and secondly the subsidised nature of this trade seems to beg the application of a theory which stresses the significance of international political and economic asymmetries. The type of dependency analysis proposed here differs from classical DT in several ways, most centrally in that an ideal-typical approach is used which allows for open-ended investigation of reciprocal influence between centre/periphery, as well as the recognition of significant differences between Soviet-type and developed market economies by refraining from making positive statements about either the nature of centre/periphery in themselves or their interactions. The impetus for this reformulation comes from the result of the literature review that some concept of dependence could help to fully articulate the consequences for development of Eastern bloc trade relations in the context of East-West antagonism.


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University of Sussex

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