Dependency theory considers the material and economic dependence that is a consequence of the insertion of capitalism into a local system, promoting the high exploitation of labor. In postcolonial countries, such factors are reflected in export economies that, as suggested by Kelly Hoffman and Miguel Ángel Centeno (2004), are characterized by a state weakened by the establishment of hegemonic elites that concentrate power and wealth and monopolize local structures of power. Under a dependent system, capital circulates but the benefits are concentrated in the dominant countries. As a consequence of uneven distribution, local elites of dependent countries experience a significant reduction of the control over production and resources.
Some scholars believe dependence can be overcome without a qualitative change in internal structures and external relations, an analysis that privileges capitalist economy and portrays postcolonial states as passive actors doomed to underdevelopment.