The Modern World-Systems Theory

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Karl Marx’s legacy in social theory does not lie in his predictions of future utopias but it rather lies in his analyses of the contradictions, as well as the workings, of capitalism. Within contemporary sociology, this tradition is very much alive in world-systems analysis, it is a perspective that has been developed by Immanuel Wallerstein in the 1970’s. The Modern World-Systems (MWS) theory is a macroscale and multidisciplinary approach to world history, as well as, social change. The MWS theory emphasizes the world system, as opposed to nation states, as the primary unit of social analysis, but it is not the sole unit of social analysis. According to Wallerstein, the modern nation state lies in a broad political, economic and legal framework…show more content…
Modern nation states are all a part of the world-system of capitalism, and Wallerstein seeks to understand this world-system. According to Immanuel Wallerstein’s MWS theory, which can also be known as the world-systems analysis or the world-systems perspective, Global poverty and inequality are not natural and is not inevitable. On the contrary, the current problems of inequality and poverty are the outcomes of long historical process of uneven global development. This essay will discuss the key features of the world systems theory, it will then illustrate, using examples, how the MWS theory describes the North-South relations and explains prevailing global…show more content…
The capitalist world-system is said to have begun in Europe in about the 1500’s and it expanded over the next few centuries to cover the whole world, as a result of the significant accumulation of capital. This significant accumulation of capital in Europe was enabled as a result of the capitalist world-economy being created by establishing long-distance trade in goods and linking production processes worldwide. In the process of this expansion the capitalist world system has consumed small mini-systems, world empires, as well as competing world-economies. But, these economic relationships were not created in a vacuum. The modern nation state was created in Europe along with capitalism to protect and to serve the interests of the capitalists. It was in the interests of early European capitalists to establish an economy based on an extremely unequal division of labour between European states and the rest of the system, and it was also in the interests of the early European capitalists to establish strong European states that had the political power and military power to enforce this inequality. For Wallerstein, the capitalist world-economy is a mechanism of excess embezzlement that is both subtle, as well as, efficient. The capitalist world-economy relies on the creation of excess through constantly expanding productivity, it then extracts this excess in

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