World-Systems Theory

The world-systems perspective is a strategy for explainingsocial change that focuses on whole intersocietal systems. The main insight is that important interaction networks (trade, alliances, conflict, etc.) weave polities and cultures together since the beginning of human social evolution, so the explaining of change needs to take intersocietal systems (world-systems) as the units that “develop.”

The intellectual history of world-systems theory has roots in classical sociology, Marxian revolutionary theory, geopolitical strategizing, and theories of social evolution. But in explicit form, the world-systems perspective emerged only in the 1970s when Samir Amin, Andre Gunder Frank, and Immanuel Wallerstein began to formulate the concepts and narrate the analytic history of the modern world-system.

This entry uses an intentionally inclusive definition of “world-systems/world systems theory” (with and without the hyphen). ...

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