World System Theory

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Review Essay On:
World System Theory

By:
Ahsan Ishaq(4th Semester) Presented to:
Dr. Tahir Amin

Area Study Centre,
QAU,Islamabad.
There are many dimensions for the study of international relations, one of which is political economy. World system theory and the dependency theory are amongst the chief theories of this dimension. These theories have emerged particularly as a quest for development and economic prosperity of the third world. The concept of development itself is also quite complex. It refers to degree of modernity that includes social and political characteristics such as rate of social mobility, complexity of social structure, degree of specialization in political and social roles and institutions, national integration, urbanization and limitation on government power accompanied by the rise of mechanisms for compromise and for the expression of popular will. The concept is also linked with the level of productivity, pattern of distribution and equality of distribution etc. World System Theory:

The world system theory is concerned with the origins and dynamics of modern world economy and the existence of worldwide uneven development. Hence it is essentially a historically based theory of global development. It is an improvement over the dependency theory which was chiefly concerned only with the under development of the third world. A world-system is any historical social system of interdependent parts that form a bounded structure and operate according to distinct rules, or a unit with a single division of labor and multiple cultural systems. Three types of systems stand out: mini-systems, world empires, and world-economies. The structure of the international system has varied historically depending on the dominant mode of production (e.g., feudalism, capitalism). The modern world-system is a world-economy as it is larger than any defined political unit and the basic linkage between its parts is economic. It is a capitalist world-economy because the accumulation of private capital, through exploitation in production and sale for profit in a market, is its driving force and it is a system that operates primarily through endless accumulation of capital in a process where everything is a product for the market The current capitalist international system exhibits qualities of political anarchy (no central political authority) and economic hierarchy based on the ways in which dominant classes/states (“the core”) organize the system to serve their interests and dominate “peripheral” (and “semi-peripheral”) states. Specific patterns of exploitation and dependence across the system are an important variable component of structure helping to determine historical development and patterns of international conflict. .The chief architect of the theory is Immanual Wallerstein. In his book, The Modern World System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World Economy in the Sixteenth Century, Immanual Wallerstein develops a theoretical framework to understand the historical changes involved in the rise of the modern world. The modern world system, essentially capitalist in nature, followed the crisis of the feudal system and helps explain the rise of Western Europe to world supremacy between 1450 and 1670. According to Wallerstein, his theory makes possible a comprehensive understanding of the external and internal manifestations of the modernization process during this period and makes possible analytically sound comparisons between different parts of the world.

Medieval Period:
Before the sixteenth century, when Western Europe embarked on a path of capitalist development, "feudalism" dominated West European society. Between 1150-1300, both population as well as commerce expanded within the confines of the feudal system. However, from 1300-1450, this...
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