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Development Theory and the Cold War: The Influence of Politics on Latin American Structuralism


  • Natália M. Bracarense


This paper analyzes the origins of economic development theory by focusing on the work of Raúl Prebisch. When Prebisch put forward his theoretical framework, he was faced with the challenges of creating a foundation for development policies in the context of the Cold War. Moreover, Prebisch was immersed in a determined mentalité; he was part of a social network and institutional setting that transformed his ideas into an influential theory. The objective is to highlight that economic theories do not rely on natural laws, and rather result from a historical and social context and that economists are not passive, isolated theoreticians; they are socialized and directly impact the issues on which they theorize. To strengthen the argument, archival research on the Prebisch Papers at the UN Archives as well as interviews from the UN Oral History Project are included.

Suggested Citation

  • Natália M. Bracarense, 2012. "Development Theory and the Cold War: The Influence of Politics on Latin American Structuralism," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(3), pages 375-398, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:24:y:2012:i:3:p:375-398
    DOI: 10.1080/09538259.2012.701916

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