uneven developmenta term applied to countries, and areas within countries, to signify that capitalist economic development occurs at different rates and takes differing forms. Leading countries and areas may increase their lead, but more backward countries or areas may at a later stage leapfrog those which previously seemed to have an advantage. Further, a country may develop industrial capitalist centres but these may exist alongside noncapitalist sectors in the countryside or within urban areas. This may be the case with present THIRD WORLD countries, or as TROTSKY argued, with Russia before the 1917 revolution, when industrial capital is predominantly foreign-owned or influenced and in isolated pockets. The theory implies that at some time there may be advantages in this seeming backwardness. Trotsky and LENIN argued that it meant that Russia did not need to proceed through the same stages of capitalist development to achieve a socialist revolution. Some academic social scientists argue that through adopting the latest technology and organizational forms, the backward countries may be able to achieve a rapid breakthrough to catch up with the advanced industrial capitalist countries without having to go through the same long process they experienced (see Löwy, 1981).
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000