This chapter discusses modernisation and dependency theory as the two central, classical approaches to international development. Modernisation theory distinguishes between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ forms of society, politics and the economy and studies the circumstances and policies that are supposed to contribute to higher levels of development. Dependency theory focuses on the limits that historical relationships, often deriving from colonialism, place on the development of poor countries. Modernisation theory was criticised severely for its perceived emphasis on the Western experience as a guide for countries in the South. Dependency theory was criticised because it overemphasised the barriers for development in developing countries. Many contemporary scholars are still inspired by ideas derived from modernisation and dependency theory. The chapter discusses studies on democratisation and long-term socio-economic transformation as examples of the influence of modernisation theory, and studies on international commodity chains and the nature of the current crisis in relation to the lasting impact of dependency theory.