World-system analysis, formulated by Immanuel Wallerstein and Andre
•The best known version of world-systems approach
has been developed by Immanuel Wallerstein in the
•American sociologist, historical social
scientist,&World system analyst,
•Born in New York in 1930.
•Samir Amin,Andre Gunder Frank, Chase-Dum,Thomas
D Hall etc. are others in this area.
World system Analysis
(World system theory, World system
•World-systems analysis is a knowledge movement elaborated since the
1970's .It insists on-
•World systems (and not nation-states) are the basic unit of social analysis.
• Neither nomothetic nor idiographic epistemologies permit useful analyses
of social reality .
•The existing disciplinary boundaries within the social sciences no longer
make any intellectual sense.
•Refers to the inter-regional and transnational division of lab or, which divides the
world into core countries, semi-periphery countries and periphery countries
•It argues that there have been only two varieties of world-systems: world-
economies and world empires.
•world-empire (examples, the Roman Empire, Han China) -large bureaucratic
structures with a single political center and an axial division of labor, but multiple
•world-economy - large axial division of labor with multiple political centers and
World system theory
•Wallerstein rejects the notion of a "Third World―
•claims there is only one world connected by a complex
network of economic exchange relationships — i.e., a
"world-economy" or "world-system" .
• There the "dichotomy of capital and labor " and the endless
"accumulation of capital" by competing agents account for
frictions. This approach is known as the World Systems
•World-systems analysis argues that capitalism has always
integrated a variety of labor forms within a functioning division of
•The world-economy manifests a tripartite division of labor with
core, semi-peripheral, and peripheral zones.
•The Annales school, Marx, and dependence theory.
•World-system theory owes to the Annales school, whose major
representative is Ferndinand Braudel
•Dependency and world system theory propose that the
poverty and backwardness of poor countries are caused by
their peripheral position in the international division of labor.
•With a tripartite pattern in division of labour, world system
analysis criticise dependency theory with its bimodal
• Dependency theory focuses on understanding the ―periphery‖ by
looking at core-periphery relations.
•Refers as made up of “free countries” dominating others without being
• Main reason for the position of the developed countries is economic power.
•The most economically diversified.
•Wealthy and powerful.
•Have strong central governments, strong bureaucracies and powerful
•Highly industrialized, produce manufactured goods rather than raw materials
•Eg.USA, Holland ,Japan,France,Brazil,China
Interpretation of World History
•Using their superior military control European economy was
dominated before 16th century.
•According to Wallerstein,there have been three periods in which a
core nation has dominates in the modern W-S
•Each lasting less than 100 years.
•Initial centuries of rise of Europe ,N-W Europe constitute
core, Mediterranean Europe semi-periphery, Eastern Europe and
parts of Asia periphery.
•1450- Spain and Portugal take early lead.
•17th century Netherlands take clear dominance.
•19th century Britain replaces Netherlands hegemony.
•As a result of British dominance W-S became more stable in 19 th
•After World War US began to take place of British.
•After II nd World War US accounted for over half of World’s
•By end of 20th century the core was composed of US, Europe and
•A core nation is dominant over all the others with three
forms of economic dominance
2.Productivity dominance may lead to trade dominance.
3.Trade dominance may lead to financial dominance.
Semi periphery nations are those that are midway between the core
Dominated by dominated countries (usually by core countries ),at
the same time dominating others (usually peripheries)
They tend to be countries moving towards industrialization and a
more diversified economy.
Those regions often have relatively developed and diversified
economy, but are not dominant in international trade.
Eg.India, Pakistan, Sweden, Poland,South Africa
•Least economically diversified.
•Have relatively weak governments.
•Tend to be least industrialized.
•Have small bourgeois and large peasant classes.
•Tend to have a high percentage of their people that are poor and
•Tend to be extensively influenced and by core nations.
•Eg. Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Cuba,Israel
World-System Theory (WST)
What should peripheral nations do?
•According to WST scholars?
• Peripheral countries must avoid exploitive economic relations with the
lBeware of trade and foreign investment, which can lead to exploitation and
•Try to nurture domestic industries.
lTry to develop advanced industries locally
lConcept: ―Import substitution‖ – developing local industries to avoid importing
•Positivist, Orthodox Marxists, state autonomists others who criticises
• Positivist argues state should be the central unit of analysis.
•Orthodox Marxist –W-S approach deviating too far from Orthodox
Marxist principles, like not giving enough weight to social classes.
•State autonomists-For blurring the boundaries between state and
•The culturalists argue that world-systems theory puts too much
importance on the economy and not enough on the culture.
•Includes studies on the cyclical processes, the consequences of the
dissolution of the Soviet Union, the roles of gender and the culture, studies
of slavery and incorporation of new regions into the world-system.
•Greatest source of renewal in world-systems analysis, since 2000 has been
the synthesis of world-system and environmental approaches.
Wallerstein's theories are widely recognized throughout the world. In the United
States, one of the hubs of world-systems research is at the Fernand Braudel
Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems and Civilizations, at