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Colonialism and social change in Sri Lanka : implications of socio-economic differentiation for strategies of national development


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Kuruppu, LP 1983 , 'Colonialism and social change in Sri Lanka : implications of socio-economic differentiation for strategies of national development', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis analyzes the Sri Lankan pattern of develop-ment and its impact on contemporary social structure.
It is argued that the Modernization, Marxist and Neo-Marxist, Dependency and World Systems approaches taken alone cannot explain the development experience of colonial societies in general, or of Sri Lanka in particular. A theoretical framework is devised which combines processes internal to third world societies with the external forces of world capitalism to explain the course of development.

The thesis being presented is that under the impact of colonial capital the pre-colonial 'feudal' order of Sri Lankan society was transformed into what may be characterized as a 'peripheral capitalist' socio-economic formation which may be distinguished from the 'metropolitan' capitalism of the core economies. Although some traditional forms of social relations persist their structural bases have assumed a peripheral capitalist character. Because of this, it is argued, that it is incorrect to characterize Sri Lankan society as 'feudal' or 'semi-feudal'.

This penetration of colonial capital brought about peri-pheralization and extraversion of the economy, commodification of land and labour, a re-ordering of the class structure, and the internal disarticulation and external dependence of the process of generalized commodity production.

Under colonialism the peasantry underwent further diffe-rentiation and wage labourers, landless tenants, landowners and merchant capitalists emerged as major groups in rural society. At the national level there has emerged a politico-administrative elite and an indigenous bourgeoisie which includes 'national' and 'comprador' fractions. Colonialism also resulted in the presence in Sri Lankan society of a non-indigenous metropolitan bourgeoisie.

Post-independence national regimes are formed out of alliances between these dominant groups. It is argued that the nature of these alliances determines strategies of 'national deve-lopment'. The strategies have swung between 'populist', 'national developmentalist' and 'neo-colonial'. None of these strategies has been able to bring about self-sustaining economic development or to reduce poverty and inequality. It is argued these strategies have deepened and reinforced the dependence of Sri Lanka on the metropolitan economies and perpetuated the uneven 'peripheral capitalist' pattern of development.

Internal social relations are consequent upon this peripheral capitalist pattern. Increasing social and economic inequality, the marginalization of a significant portion of the population, and the trend towards a closer alliance between the indigenous and metropolitan bourgeoisie can be observed. The programmes of post-independence regimes, such as the land reform and 'green revolution' programmes, have failed to reverse these trends. It is argued that a policy of autochthonous development is the most appropriate basis for moving beyond the undesirable features of the present pattern.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Kuruppu, LP
Copyright Holders: The Author
Additional Information:

Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 1984. Bibliography: l. 203-216

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