The World System and Colonialism-Lecture Notes

Topics: Colonialism, British Empire, Communism Pages: 11 (2957 words) Published: December 12, 2012
I. Introduction
A. Truly isolated societies do not exist today (and probably have never existed). B. The modern world system refers to a world in which nations are economically and politically interdependent.
II. The World System
A. The world system and the relations between the countries within that system are shaped by the world capitalist economy.
B. The increasing dominance of international trade during and after the 15th century led to the capitalist world economy, a single world system committed to production for sale or exchange, with the object of maximizing profits rather than supplying domestic needs. 1. Capital refers to wealth or resources invested in business, with the intent of producing a profit.

2. The defining attribute of capitalism is economic orientation to the world market for profit. C. The key claim of world-system theory is that an identifiable social system, based on wealth and power differentials, extends beyond individual states and nations. 1. According to Wallerstein, the nations within the world system occupy three different positions of economic and political power: core, periphery, and semiperiphery. a. The core consists of the strongest, most powerful nations which monopolize world finance and, with sophisticated technologies and mechanized production, manufacture products that flow mainly to other core nations (and, to a lesser extent, the periphery and semiperiphery).

b. The semiperiphery consists of industrialized nations that export industrial goods and commodities but lack the power and economic dominance of core nations. c. The periphery consists of nations whose economies—less mechanized than those in the semiperiphery—are focused on the production of raw materials, agricultural commodities, and human labor for export to the core and semiperiphery. 2. The relationship between the core and the periphery is fundamentally exploitative, as trade and other economic relations disproportionately benefit capitalists in the core. a. Today, immigrants from noncore nations provide cheap labor for agriculture in core countries (e.g., Mexicans in the United States, Turks in Germany). b. Increasingly, companies in core nations are taking advantage of cheap labor in noncore countries by “outsourcing” jobs.

D. The emergence of the world system
1. In the 15th century Europe established regular contact with Asia, Africa, and eventually the New World (the Caribbean and the Americas).
2. Journeys among these regions opened the way for a major exchange of people, resources, products, ideas, and diseases, as the New and Old Worlds were forever linked. 3. Led by Spain and Portugal, Europeans extracted gold and silver, conquered native groups (taking some as slaves), and colonized their lands.

4. Colonial commodities production was oriented toward the European market. 5. The demand for sugar in a growing international market spurred the development of the transatlantic slave trade and New World plantation economies based on slave labor. 6. Beginning in the 17th century, colonial plantation systems led to monocrop production, focused on a single cash crop, in areas that once had diverse subsistence bases. 2

III. Industrialization
A. The Industrial Revolution refers to the historical transformation (in Europe, after 1750) of “traditional” into “modern” societies through industrialization of the economy. B. European industrialization developed from, and eventually replaced, the domestic system of manufacture (or home-handicraft system) in which an organizer-entrepreneur supplied the raw materials to workers in their homes and collected the finished products from them. C. Causes of the Industrial Revolution

1. Industrialization began with particular, widely used goods—cotton products, iron, and pottery—whose manufacture could be broken down into simple routine motions that machines could perform.
2. Agrarian societies evolved into industrial ones...
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