metropolis-satellite relationshipa structure, both spatial and socioeconomic, in which a central region (‘metropolis’) dominates a peripheral region ('S atellite’) mainly through economic means. It is a concept developed by FRANK to describe the process whereby economic surpluses flow out of the THIRD WORLD into the industrial capitalist countries. The structure and process begins in the Third World where surpluses flow from rural and provincial regions into urban and commercial centres via the control of trade by indigenous and foreign merchants. Goods which are then exported to the advanced countries contribute to the flow of surpluses, the profits from trade accumulating in the advanced countries. Thus the world can be conceptualized as a series of metropolis-satellite relationships, with surpluses being syphoned off at each intermediate metropolis, which itself becomes the satellite of another. This relationship is central to Frank's explanation of the UNDERDEVELOPMENT of the satellites, which do not retain economic growth, and the development of the metropoles, which benefit from the absorption of economic surpluses.
The concept has been criticized for conflating spatial and socioeconomic processes; for imprecision in the concept of ECONOMIC SURPLUS; for inadequately explaining the mechanisms whereby surpluses flow in a certain direction; and for over-simplifying the relationship between the Third World and the industrial capitalist countries. See also CENTRE AND PERIPHERY, WORLD SYSTEM, CITY.