World-systems Analysis: An Introduction

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    Immanuel Wallerstein

    Publisher: Duke University Press

    Year: 2004

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 128 pages

    ISBN: 9780822334422

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In World-Systems Analysis, Immanuel Wallerstein provides a concise and accessible introduction to the comprehensive approach that he pioneered thirty years ago to understanding the history and development of the modern world. Since Wallerstein first developed world-systems analysis, it has become a widely utilized methodology within the historical social sciences and a common point of reference in discussions of globalization. Now, for the first time in one volume, Wallerstein offers a succinct summary of world-systems analysis and a clear outline of the modern world-system, describing the structures of knowledge upon which it is based, its mechanisms, and its future.

Wallerstein explains the defining characteristics of world-systems analysis: its emphasis on world-systems rather than nation-states, on the need to consider historical processes as they unfold over long periods of time, and on combining within a single analytical framework bodies of knowledge usually viewed as distinct from one another—such as history, political science, economics, and sociology. He describes the world-system as a social reality comprised of interconnected nations, firms, households, classes, and identity groups of all kinds. He identifies and highlights the significance of the key moments in the evolution of the modern world-system: the development of a capitalist world-economy in the sixteenth-century, the beginning of two centuries of liberal centrism in the French Revolution of 1789, and the undermining of that centrism in the global revolts of 1968. Intended for general readers, students, and experienced practitioners alike, this book presents a complete overview of world-systems analysis by its original architect.

What People Are Saying

World-System Analysis provides a strong, readable overview of world-systems analysis and the dynamics of the modern world-system. . . . . [B]oth educators and students should find the text useful in its elaboration of social theory, contemporary social problems, economic sociology, political sociology, and the dynamics of globalization.” Warren Fincher , Teaching Sociology

World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction reminds us of the enduring importance of this radical intellectual tradition. . . . Wallerstein’s introduction to world-systems analysis deals eloquently with epistemological shifts and explains the emergence of basic disciplinary divisions that have crystallized into the faculties and departments of most modern universities. In admirably accessible language, Wallerstein traces the emergence of modern academic disciplines (political sciences, economics, and sociology), illustrates the spread of ‘area studies’ programs, and explains the rise of the ‘development’ paradigm. . . .” Goetz Ottmann , Thesis Eleven

“Immanuel Wallerstein’s world-systems analysis represents one of the most impressive and influential achievements in the recent history of the social sciences.” Anthony Van Fossen , Australian Journal of Politics and History

"A much-appreciated corrective to trendy postmodernist assaults on comparative research, temporal trajectories, and research strategies in search of patterns. . . . This book affords a convenient introduction to such research agendas that are in need of long-term analysis." Brian J. McVeigh, H-US-Japan, H-Net Reviews

"[T]his book is an introduction to a historical analysis and a social scientific perspective that are truly extraordinary. Wallerstein had the intellectual vision to ask all the right questions in the 1960s, and he's still asking them today." Timothy Patrick Moran , Qualitative Sociology

"It is hard to disagree with Wallerstein when he writes, 'We need first of all to try to understand clearly what is going on. We need then to make our choices about the directions in which we want the world to go. And we must finally figure out how we can act in the present so that it is likely to go in the direction we prefer. We can think of these three tasks as the intellectual, the moral and the political tasks'(p. 90). The author himself makes a most interesting attempt to solve the three tasks indicated above. It makes sense for all of us to get a better understanding of it, if we share concern about the fate of the world or if at least we try to comprehend it and hence our own problems." Oleg Gabriyelyan , Review of Politics

"This is a concise and elegantly written introduction by a major historian and social theorist. Given recent interest in globalization, Wallerstein's overview is particularly timely. . . . No on interested in Wallerstein's oeuvre or in teaching world-systems theory should be without this definitive introduction for both students and general readers. Essential." D. Ashley , Choice

"Wallerstein produces both more compelling and clearly written explanations for his theory than at any time past. . . . Wallerstein successfully delivers a precise and easily understood statement of his model in the first twenty pages of his book in a way that he never previously has. This will be of great use to students and professors alike who are looking to acquaint themselves with, or teach, his theory. This new clarity will reduce the confusion surrounding his ideas that have often led critics to knock down open doors and pummel straw men of their own creation because they really did not understand the ideas Wallerstein was trying to advance. For intellectually honest critics, the theory will now be subject to scrutiny based on what it really is." Jeff Sommers , International Social Science Review

“At a time when globalization is at the center of international debate from Davos to Porto Alegre, an introduction to ‘world-systems analysis,’ an original approach to world development since the sixteenth century, is timely and relevant. This is a lucidly written and comprehensive treatment of its origins, controversies, and development by Immanuel Wallerstein, its undoubted pioneer and most eminent practitioner.” Eric Hobsbawm, author of Interesting Times: A Twentieth-Century Life and The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914–19

“Immanuel Wallerstein’s mind can reach as far and encompass as much as anyone’s in our time. The world, to him, is a vast, integrated system, and he makes the case for that vision with an elegant and almost relentless logic. But he also knows that to see as he does requires looking through a very different epistemological lens than the one most of us are in the habit of using. So his gift to us is not just a new understanding of how the world works but a new way of apprehending it. A brilliant work on both scores." Kai Erikson, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor Emeritus of Sociology and American Studies, Yale University

About the Author

Immanuel Wallerstein is a Senior Research Scholar at Yale University and Director of the Fernand Braudel Center at Binghamton University. Among his many books are The Modern World-System (three volumes); The End of the World as We Know It: Social Science for the Twenty-first Century; Utopistics: Or, Historical Choices of the Twenty-first Century; and Unthinking Social Science: The Limits of Nineteenth-Century Paradigms. He is the recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award and is a former president of the International Sociological Association.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

To Start: Understanding the World in Which We Live ix

1. Historical Origins of World-Systems Analysis: From Social Science Disciplines to Historical Social Sciences 1

2. The Modern World-System as a Capitalist World-Economy: Production, Surplus-Value, and Polarization 23

3. The Rise of the States-System: Sovereign Nation-States, Colonies, and the Interstate System 41

4. The Creation of a Geoculture: Ideologies, Social Movements, Social Science 60

5. The Modern World-System in Crisis: Bifurcation, Chaos, and Choices 76

Glossary 91

Bibliographical Guide 101

Index 105

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