The Modern World-System - Essay Example

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This essay entitled "The Modern World-System" concerns the system of the modern world. According to Wallerstein, “a world system is a social system, one that has boundaries, structures, member groups, rules of litigation, and coherence”…
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The Modern World-System: Theoretical Reprise
Theorizing and analyses go hand in and cannot be exist independently. Wallerstein argues that “a world system is a social system, one that has boundaries, structures, member groups, rules of litigation, and coherence” (205). The world-system is sustained by opposing forces caused by various groups striving to influence it to suit their needs. The world-system’s features change over a given period of time with others remaining unchanged, which is more similar to the life of an organism. Based on the internal logic functioning, a person can characterise the world-system structures as weak or strong. The author further argues that a social system is one that fundamentally has self-contained internal life and experiences growth mainly from within. The system is independent of external forces and would function normally if it was barred from interacting with exterior forces. Further, Wallerstein argues that tribes, communities, and nation or states, often described as social systems, do not constitute complete systems. True social systems are fairly small, very independent. As an economic institution, the world-system self-containment relies on division of labor and is composed of numerous cultures.
World-systems exist in two major categories: world-empires, characterised by one political system in almost all parts; and world-system, a system where one political system occupy only a portion of the overall space. Before the modern age, world-economies were characterised by high level of instability and could often crumble or be turned into empires. Capitalism has fundamentally sustained world-economy and ensured it is not converted into an empire in the previous 500 years. The existence of many political systems within the world-economy has seen capitalism thrive over the years. “Capitalism is based on the constant absorption of economic loss by political entities, while economic gain is distributed to “private” hands” (Wallerstein 206). The scope of operation of capitalism supersedes the boundaries within which a single political institution governs. The magnitude of world economy is determined by its internal effective transport and communication. The division of labor within the world system is both occupational and geographical in that economic activities are unevenly spread within the world system.
Unlike an empire where political structure connects culture with livelihood, the political structure in the world-economy works towards connecting culture with spatial position. Cultural harmonisation tends to work in the best interest of specific groups in world-economy. In core-states, integration has perpetuated disparities that exist within the world-economy. World-economies are made up of core-states and marginal regions. Peripheral regions are weak and have low independence. Sandwiched between core-states and peripheral areas are semiperipheral areas, which are essential component of world-economy structure. Semiperipheral areas act as a link between core-states and peripheral areas.
The modern world-economy is a typical capitalist economy. The geographical definition range as well as the status of its self-consciousness remains vital in assessing a class. A group’s self-conscious is an outcome of conflict scenarios. Class boundaries in the upper societal strata are explicit ensuring high likelihood of maintenance of privileges. There is a single class that has established itself as a universal- capitalist class (the bourgeoisie). There is always friction in the relationship between the capitalist class and all the other social strata. Strong states works in the best interest of a particular group at the expense of others. In the world-economy, structures tend to be strong in core-states, while weak among periphery areas. Exploitation and rejection of coercion still remain integral part of the modern world-economy. Read More
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