internal colonialism

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Application of the theory of imperialism developed by Lenin to centre–periphery relationships within a country. The Leninist theory of imperialism argued that an imperialist country exported the exploitation of the proletariat to its colonies, or to other undeveloped countries whose terms of trade it could control; therefore the proletariat of the colonizing country were ‘bought off’ or subsidized by the proletariat of the exploited countries. Internal colonialism uses the same argument to account for the development of rich and poor regions within a country. Although the best‐known such attempt—that by Michael Hechter (Internal Colonialism, 1975) to explain relationships between England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland—is only patchily supported by the evidence (it fits Ireland well and Scotland badly), the idea of internal colonialism remains fruitful. Robert Blauner (Racial Oppression in America, 1972) used the concept to describe race relations in the United States and elsewhere.

Subjects: Politics — Sociology.

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