Economists can influence policy guidelines due to the logical-mathematical structure and their discipline seniority compared to the other social sciences; yet, they are unable to identify the variables that can lead to endogenous accumulation in undeveloped areas, confining themselves to hypotheses based on resource transfers from outside. The economic policy interventions based on these hypotheses have determined the localization of industrial activities disconnected from the pre-existing economic context and, far from eliminating it, lead instead to a heightening of the backward economic structure’s dependency on the continuous resource flow from outside the area.

The point is that the strategic variable of endogenous development is not economic but social. Indeed, the oligopolistic market identifies a complex social-interconnection process. It affects both developed areas, which have an interest in maintaining the equilibria of underdeveloped areas, and underdeveloped areas, which have an interest in maintaining their underdevelopment equilibria. The latter tend to become “consumption equilibria,” equalized to those of developed areas, but not “production equilibria.” The sociologist’s task is identifying the cultural and political factors that characterize this situation.

Therefore, to solve the problem of the transition from underdevelopment to development, it is necessary to overcome the theoretical shortcomings of the models formulated so far and advance a scientific perspective that integrates the economic and sociological components. The economist can look at the economic equilibria, flag situations of imbalance, and provide corrective measures to eliminate them. The sociologist should provide the politician with equally valuable support on social equilibria and cultural dynamics in a pluralistic society.

Giulio Bolacchi    Comment on the text


Il passaggio dal sottosviluppo allo sviluppo tra analisi economica e analisi sociologica
[The transition from underdevelopment to development between economic and sociological analyses]

Published in
G. Costantini (ed.), Per una storia della sociologia in Italia. Gli anni ’50 e il Mezzogiorno (pp. 167-173)

Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, Napoli


The volume collects the contributions to the fifth session of the permanent Forum on the Southern question, “Sociology and development of the South in the 1950s”, held in Bari on 19 and 20 July 1990 and promoted by the Aldo Moro Academy of Historical Studies.