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The Modernization Theory first emerged after WW2 from the early 1950s-1960s. Modernization Theory draws upon 2 theories of social life, social evolutionary theory (durkham) and functionalist theory (Paisons). Social evolutionary theory stated social change was unidirectional from a primitive to an advanced state. Functionalist Theory viewed human society as a biological organism and felt that institutions in society are interdependent. Modernization Theory tried to implement modernized ideas onto what they deemed "primitive" culture, technology, economics, etc. A policy implication of this theory was that there should be an injection of money into democratic nations. A strength of this theory is that it tried to better the "primitive" nations. A weakness of this theory is that it was overly optimistic by acting like the West had no problems.

Dependency Theory first emerged in direct opposition to the Modernization Theory in the 1960s. Dependency Theory stated that peripheral nations (colonies) were made dependent upon and exploited by the "core" nations. The theory had 5 revisions to underdevelopment: reject the linear evolutionism, capitalist production at the heart of underdevelopment, position in the world matters, position determines whether development can truly happen, and to opt out of the dependent system. The Dos Santos ruled there are 3 types of dependency. They are colonial, financial, and technological dependence. A policy implication of this theory was to opt out of the system. A strength of this theory is that it helped many nations gain its own independence. A weakness of this theory is that it can be viewed as Marxist propaganda.