Social Scientist. v 12, no. 132 (May 1984) p. 64.


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BOOK REVIEW ^Review Article

Amiya Bagchi and the Political Economy of Underdevelopment

AMIYA BAGCHI, THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1982, pp viii+280, Index. Hardcover ^20, Paperback^?. 50.

IN THE FIELD of what has come to be known as 'development studies5, text-books written in English abound. Economists, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, demographers, geographers, produce general texts with apparently unrepentant abandon. Among this jostling breed of social scientists dedicated to the study of 'development9, economists are, one supposes, intellectually dominant. They certainly consider themselves to be.

If, indeed, we confine ourselves to the 'hard' end of this area of intellectual endeavour, the 'economics of development5, we find that since the 1950s desperate attempts have been made. by publishers and authors to produce that English-language text which might sweep the board; that differentiated product which might make the cash registers ring and yield a fortune from the pedagogy of poverty. We here encounter a veritable plethora of general texts: texts designed to meet the demand generated by undergraduate and masters' courses, by courses for civil servants and administrators, by courses in universities and polytechnics, texts, more often than not, clubbed together, it seems, from unimaginatively compiled notes; texts which bear titles of monotonous uniformity—"development economics", "economic development", "economics of underdeveloped countries'3, "economics of developing countries", or some slight variant thereof; texts, often, with no very obvious analytical structure, or with no clear viewpoint of their own. In the last three decades, they have appeared with alarming frequency, and they continue to do so. Since the appearance of W Arthur Lewis's The Theory of Economic Growth in 1955—a quite exceptional text m terms of quality and authority, which is far more than a text-book, and which deserves better company—they have been published at the rate of more than one per year: with as many as half a dozen in any one year. Their frequency is alarming if



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