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Immanuel Wallerstein’s World-Systems Analysis Essay

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Updated: Sep 3rd, 2021

The theory of the World-system is a theory that is related to sociology and primarily concerns with the elucidation of the global industrial economy as being an absolutely societal structure and Immanuel Wallerstein, was one of the first persons to elucidate this concept in several of his works. Wallerstein explains the theory by stating the importance of man’s contribution, “intelligently” in transforming the world by means of his actions.

In the study of the Theory of the World System by Wallerstein, we do find several influences of marks and Weber.

Wallerstein’s world-systems theory offers a form for perception of the transformation of the international system as well as the association among its components. He was one of the foremost to propose there should be a diversion from the rather recently industrial division of the nation towards the research in worldwide dealings.

The theory of world-systems therefore aims to investigate the function and relations connecting the social order and the resultant transformations occurring due to these relations. The theory has its roots in the neo-Marxism as well as the French Annales School along with Fernand Braudel.

Wallerstein’s criticizes the existing notion of dependency theory, and debates that the complex world of today cannot be categorized as a system consisting only of ‘cores’ and ‘peripheries’. He articulated the notion of ‘semi-periphery’, thereby creating a new system comprising of three modes including not only the core and the periphery but in between them the semi periphery.

The Dependency theory perceived by Wallerstein, can be defined as a body of theories relating to social science, stemming from the developed as well as the developing nations, which have an established conception, that there is an occurrence of a center of prosperous regions existing with a periphery of deprived, under-privileged regions. The resources are extorted from the deprived regions or nations and are directed towards the richer regions at the core to facilitate sustenance of their fiscal development and capital. This definition has its base in the theory of ‘Marxist’ examination of disproportion occurring within the global system.

Wallerstein’s approache is one in which theory and practice are intimately interconnected, and the purpose is to generate information that unearths concealed configuration and permits oneself to labor on the world and transform it.

Although Wallerstein criticizes the dependency theory, the World-system theory is by all means a variation of the dependency theory from where Wallerstein illustrates profoundly.

Wallerstein, defines a world-system as a communal organization, with limitations, configurations, and members occurring in groups coherently. This system encompasses all the characteristics of an organism that is there is a span of life. Wallerstein labels a world-system as a “world-economy”, incorporated via the global market and not one sole political center, wherein, two or more regions are inter-reliant in relation to their requirements such as foodstuff, fuel, and defense, and they may eternally inter-struggle for supremacy with none surfacing as single center. Wallerstein’s foremost definition, defined a world-system is a “multi-cultural” distribution of employment based on regions which incorporated the manufacture and the trade of essential merchandise as well as unrefined resources crucial for daily existence of human beings.

Wallerstein elucidates that amongst the principal networking of the world system incorporates an authority chain of core and periphery, in which core implies the social orders which are affluent and hence dictate and take advantage of the feeble and underprivileged communities. The main driver of this segregation is technology which happens to be a crucial aspect in the locating of any region within the domain of either the core or periphery. Even in the global scenario, the advanced or developed countries like America can be classified as the core whereas the developing nations like India, China and Thailand are in the domain of the periphery. The subordination of these nations due to their position and ranking in the global scenario determines the unequal exchange of supplies of goods between them and the richer nations, which Wallerstein asserts and criticizes.

Thus Wallerstein uses the dependency theory as a basis for providing three potential modes for placing the nations in a world-system which are the core, followed by the semi-periphery and finally the periphery. The core and periphery association stemmed from direct depiction of dependence which included the mistreatment meted out by the rich to their poor in their trade exchange practices. However the category of the semi-periphery was a more complicated one than the earlier two, core and the periphery.

Wallerstein therefore emphasizes the entire world as being a arrangement with an interconnected relationship between all the cultural societies where all the nations and regions are unified due to the fact that they are so reliant on each other for their fundamental requirements or living.

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