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Uneven development and the environment: towards a theoretical framework for the study of environmental issues

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Konstantinidis, G (1979) Uneven development and the environment: towards a theoretical framework for the study of environmental issues. Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The central concern of this paper is an examination of the political
economy approach to the questions of regional and national imbalance
in the distribution of economic activity, and an application of this
approach to environmental issues in general as well as to the
specific economic and environmental problems facing Tasmania. Basic
tenets of the centre-periphery approach to the question of spatial
imbalance include (a) that regional imbalances are but the spatial
expression of certain characteristics of the private-enterprise
system; (b) that the relevant characteristics include i) private
investment decisions according to considerations of private gain,
ii) divergence and conflict between the public and private costs and
benefits of such decisions, resulting in iii) uneven development
manifesting itself in inequalities of various forms and at various
levels, which are both undesirable and cumulative; and
(c) that a vital link exists between the various parts of the system
so that each part can only be studied in the context of the
operations of the whole.
These arguments are exemplified by consideration of the two most
important applications of the centre-periphery approach: its
application in explaining inequalities between regions and its
application in explaining inequalities between nations.
At the level of regions, it is argued that, contrary to the
assumptions and expectations of orthodox theory, not only do
inequalities exist and persist but also that they are growing over
time and, further, that this constitutes a problem. It is found
that the 'centre' is almost invariably favoured by private investors
over the 'periphery', thus reinforcing the advantages that the
former already holds over the latter in terms of an economic
structure more favourable to growth.
The argument is extended to the level of nations and the centre-periphery
(or dependency) approach is contrasted to orthodox
development theory. The former views both development and underdevelopment
as the necessary result and contemporary manifestation
of a single system, the product of a single yet dialectically
contradictory economic structure and process whose mechanisms are
colonial and neo-colonial relations between the developed and the
underdeveloped parts of the capitalist world. Where the orthodox
approach sees poverty, tradition and backwardness as the defining
characteristics of underdevelopment, to the dependency theorists
poverty and backwardness are symptoms of underdevelopment and
underdeveloped countries are not 'traditional' societies.
According to this approach the defining characteristics of underdevelopment
are external dependence of a form which results in
(and is perpetuated by) the disarticulation of the various sectors
of the economic system and the extraction of surplus. Persisting
and cumulative inequalities between nations are explained in terms
of the 'mechanisms of imperialism', to be found in the forms of
trade and other linkages between developed and underdeveloped
countries and reflected in the latters' internal structures as well
as in their external relations .
It is finally argued that the centre-periphery approach to
questions of intra- and inter-national imbalances and inequalities
offers significant insights to the study of environmental issues
and can contribute to the construction of a more satisfactory
theoretical framework for this purpose.

Item Type: Thesis (Coursework Master)
Keywords: Economic development
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1979 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Env.St.)--University of Tasmania, 1979. Includes bibliography

Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2014 02:22
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2017 05:22
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