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The relationship between power and dependence

Costas H. Constantinou looks at the degree of similarity between R.M. Emerson’s Karen Cook’s exchange theory and A.G. Frank’s conflict theory on the development of underdeveloped countries.

EMERSON’S and Cook’s exchange theory explains in detail the relationship between power and dependence. However this theory is not justified with examples, but with a series of true statements, like mathematical equations which satisfy theoretical statements.  The fundamental aspect of this theory is that Power A/B = Dependence B/A.  Frank in his article “the development of underdevelopment gives a broad justification of Emerson’s and Cook’s theory, by observing and analysing patterns of underdeveloped countries (dependent) as they were satellites to developed industrial ones or as being independent. This is the main common element of the two theories.

In the following paper this is illustrated by comparing and extrapolating parts of both articles. Although both theories stress the interplay between power and dependence, Frank’s theory is more empirical and concrete.  Yet Emerson’s theory is safer to follow because it deals with a broader network and it is not directed to any specific topic.  Furthermore, the predictable outcomes of impotence in power that Emerson’s theory is safer to follow because it deals with a broader network and it is not directed to any specific topic.  Furthermore, the predictable outcomes of an importance in power that Emerson states are mainly related with Franks five hypotheses in a way that shows best the connections of two hypotheses.

Emerson’s and Cook’s (1972) exchange theory identifies genetically different kinds of relationships with the ultimate goal to account for observable differences in social structure.  Emerson 1972 based his theory on his fundamental theorem that power A/B = dependence B/A.  From this he concluded a series of statements and delivered a formal theory to account for “generic network structures” that is Monopoly, Coalition, Market, and division of labour.

He defined dependence as “the extent to which reinforcement for B is contingent upon the actions of A, and power as the potential cost or rewards foregone between B and A (powers, 1985, p.59).  But Emerson’s most important extrapolated concept of his theory is the concept of importance.  If one party is more dependent than another, the relationship can be accounted at the concept of impotence (Powers, 1985, p.59).  By Emerson’s 1972 definition, impotence is the absolute value of power A/B minus power B/A).

According to the above exchange theory, Frank (1966), in this article “the development of underdevelopment” observes a conflict of the relationship between underdeveloped and developed countries and whether this relationship is positively or negatively corrected with the development of the underdeveloped counties.  Frank looks at the historical point of view of the underdeveloped counties and he states the following “A related and also large erroneous view is that the development of these underdeveloped domestic areas must and will be generated or stimulated by diffusion of capital, institutions, values etc, to them from the international and national capitalist metropolis (Frank, 1966 p.4).

An example of this is Brazil’s satellite relationship with the United States, and Japan’s industrialization, without Japan being a satellite of the U.S. In the case of Brazil, colonial satellites with the U.S. decapitalised further, while Japan which developed by itself without any help from the U.S. is today a famous industrial country.  Frank observed various other examples of the development of underdeveloped countries which were not a satellite of a developed country.

For example Chile was a manufacturing centre before the sea route around the Horn was opened, while Chile before was relatively isolated from Europe.  Furthermore the most important recent industrial development of countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile as well has evolved during the period of the two wars and the corresponding depression and not from the aid of metropolitan counties. In summary, Frank derived his final statement through a series of hypothesis derived under observations as follows:

1 “In contrast to the development of the world metropolis which is one’s satellite, the development of the national and other subordinate metropolis is limited by their satellite status” (Frank 1986, p.9)

2 “The satellites experience their greater economic development and especially their most classically capitalist industrial development if and when their ties to their metropolis are weakest” (Frank, 1966, pp. 9-10).

  1. “The regions which are the most underdeveloped and feudal seeming today are the ones which had the closest ties to the metropolis in the past” (Frank, 1966, p.18)
  2. “The latilfundium, irrespective of whether it appears today as a plantation or a hacienda, was typically born as a commercial enterprise which created for itself the institutions which permitted it to respond to increased demand in the world or national market by expanding the amount of its land, capital, and labor to increase the supply of its products” (Frank, 1966, p.14)

“The Latifund in which appear isolated, subsistence-based and semi-feudal today saw the demand for their products or their productive  capacity decline and that they are to be found principally in the above named former agricultural and mining export regions whose economic activity declined in general” (Frank 1996, p.4)

Although Frank’s argument is based on observation and on a series of statements, a more scientific theory at that point is given by person.  Emerson (1972,p.67) points a classic case of directional table power importance in his discussion of balancing operations the following table which summarises Emerson’s probable outcomes or change, given an importance in power use, shows how Franks hypothesis is supported.


Dominant Condition


Predicted outcome
Weakest party places little value on resources procured in exchange Type II Exploitation (stronger partner gives less)
Weakest party places great value on resources produced in exchange Type I Exploitation (weaker partner give more)
Weakest party has many alternative partners for conducting comparable exchange Network expansion
Weakest party has no alternative partners for conducting comparable exchange Specialisation, division of labor
Supply can be controlled and/or is exceeded by demand Coalition formation

(Powers, 1985,p.62)


The first hypothesis is which Frank states Emerson’s first Dominant Condition.  If the weakest party places little value on resources produced in exchange (type II exploitation-stronger party gives less) then it is like saying that development of the national and other subordinate metropolis is limited by that satellite status.

Then, if nations that have the weakest ties with the metropolis experience greater economic development (Frank’s second hypothesis) it is like agreeing with Emerson’s type II and Type I exploitation, that is the stronger partner gives less in the first case, or the weakest partner emphasises greater value on resources (Emerson’s second case).

Furthermore, when Frank states that “the regions which are the most underdeveloped and feudal-seeming today are the areas which had the closest ties to the metropolis in the past” it is like agreeing with Emerson that the weakest party has no alternative partners for conducting comparable exchange in the present (fourth Emerson’s situation).  Besides, in the predicted outcome of Emerson’s fourth probable outcome that is specialisation and division of labour, seem to correspond with Frank’s fourth hypothesis that is the latifundium was typically born as a commercial enterprise which created for itself the institutions (division of labour) which permitted it to increase demand in the world or the national market.  An example of these is the growth of the latifundium in the nineteenth century Argentina and Cuba.  This example is a clear case which supports the fourth hypothesis (Frank, 1966, p.14). Eventually, Frank’s fourth, and especially fifth hypothesis show an attempt of network expansion as an outcome of the weakest party to have many alternatives for product exchange.

The above similarities may not be on by on 100 percent corresponding, but they certainly show a high degree of agreement with Frank’s hypothesis.  They also explain the metropolis satellite conflict that Frank observed in his hypothesis.  Emerson’s structural changes alter the power/dependency ratio, a fundamental aspect of Frank’s fifth hypothesis.

Emerson’s defines power use as the difference between power potential and restart on the use of power.  Restrain for Emerson is “the degree to which a dyadic exchange partner is inhibited from exercising the full power potential resulting from dependence of other dyadic partner” (Powers.1985, p.60).  Concerning the above, it can be said that the less participation results most likely in less interdependence.  “So with an impotence in levels of power actually used, the weaker party must choose between the following

  1. Continuing to participate in the same relationship but under less advantageous terms of exchange
  2. Seeking out new exchange partners, or doing without the resources procured in exchange” (Powers, 1985, p.61). So as Powers (in Emerson, 1985, p.61) concludes, the less need weak parties have for resources, the less inclined they will be to incur further costs in order to maintain an existing relationship, and to also have less concern about finding substitute exchange partners.  The above choices which the weakest parties have seem to agree with Frank’s hypothesis which mentioned above.  Besides all the three choices can be used to explain various statements on Frank’s article which have already been mentioned.

Where C is a subordinate unit and A and B engage in direct dyadic exchange (Powers, 1985, p.62).

The focus on the above scheme is that dyads should not be always considered the main focus of analysis in exchange “the units (C) are often crested or imbued with regulatory authority to constrain the exercise of power potential within dyads in which those regulatory units do not, under normal circumstances, directly participate (A, B).  That is structural positions can be signed out and commissioned more explicitly to speak for the group in the group’s dealing with its member” (Powers 1985, p.64).

Frank illustrates the above scheme in the real world pretty much the same.  As he says (1966, p.6) “the instituto Nacional indigenista of Mexico (confirms this observation) when it notes that “the mestizo population” in fact, always lives in a city, a center of an intercultural region, which acts as the metropolis of a zone of indigenous population and which maintains with the underdeveloped communities an intimate relation which links the center with the satellite communities”.  Here, in Frank’s words, the Intituto Nacional Indigenista is units (C)  , the satellites communities units (A), and the population which acts like metropolis (and is linked by the National Indian Institute) as units (B).

From the above, the degree of similarity between Frank and Emerson can be seen.  But since more of the theory is an integration of another and not dealing exactly with the same topics, there is also some degree of complementarity and incompatibility.  But this is expected since Frank’s hypothesis are derived from observations around the world, while Emerson/Cook give formulas and theories under a more conservative and theoretical explanation.  Emerson works like a mathematician, while Frank is like Darwin when he returned from the “voyage of Beage” and formulated the concept of natural selection.  As it is said at the beginning, Emerson (Powers, 1985, p.65) formulated his original theory based on the equation that A’s power over B is equal to B’s dependency on A, examining the economic and other relations between the metropolis and the satellite countries.  An example of this is the various countries in Latin America which developed to some extent, but it has started declining long ago.  Frank’s hypothesis need to be followed by an example to hold true, but Emerson’s doesn’t.  A state, if it applies Emerson’s exchange theory is safe enough (if of course is a power full state like the U.S.), but if it switches to Frank’s uses a radical theory, but because he doesn’t look at the cases separately.  A relationship between a metropolis and a satellite may be important and necessary for both countries at a particular period, even if one may argues that it may not be prosperous in the future.

For example the relationship between the U.S. and South Korea may not be so prosperous in the future, but for now it works fine (looking at the relationship between North Korea and former Soviet Union) especially in the 1970s to 80’s.  Was South Korea going to be able to develop alone under the conditions that East Asia experiences today or 20 years ago? Yet, was it wrong for the U.S. to exercise power in Vietnam under the conditions of the 1960? In fact, it was proved that, that was too destructive and dangerous.

In addition to that, Emerson mechanically gave a series of predicted outcomes. Given an importance in power, which many of these outcomes are always difficult to happen in that pattern in everyday life, Frank used example that already occurred to formulate his theory.  Yet, it is hard to say which theory is more valid by observing particular cases like Frank did.  In spite of the above complementarities, both theories have more similarities.

Emerson gives the core of the theory (more complete theory) and Frank observes how parts of that theory can be seen true to a certain degree.  Both theories focus on the interrelationship between power and dependence of fundamental issues of change on the various institutional arrangements of a state.

Then view this article if it can be applied at the case of Cyprus as a small state in the Modern world along with all challengers around them.

These theories might be applied to our country, as small state in the Modern World, because comprehensively asses the different modes of adaptation by small state in response to the security and economic vulnerabilities possessed by global change.


R.M.Emerson / Karen Cook and Andre Gander and Frank Modern fundamentals sociologists

Costas H. Constantinou, Sociology-Biology-Management (MBA)

The article is dedicated to my wife Avgousta and son Omiros

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