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World-systems theory (also known as world-systems analysis or the world-systems perspective),[2] a multidisciplinary, macro-scale approach to world history and social change, emphasizes the world-system (and not nation states) as the primary (but not exclusive) unit of social analysis.[2][3]


“World-system” refers to the inter-regional and transnational division of labor, which divides the world into core countriessemi-periphery countries, and the periphery countries.[3] Core countries focus on higher skill, capital-intensive production, and the rest of the world focuses on low-skill, labor-intensive production and extraction of raw materials.[4] This constantly reinforces the dominance of the core countries.[4] Nonetheless, the system has dynamic characteristics, in part as a result of revolutions in transport technology, and individual states can gain or lose their core (semi-periphery, periphery) status over time.[4] For a time, some countries become the world hegemon; during the last few centuries, as the world-system has extended geographically and intensified economically, this status has passed from the Netherlands, to the United Kingdom and (most recently) to the United States [4].


  1. N/A

2. Immanuel Wallerstein, (2004), “World-systems Analysis.” In World System History, ed. George Modelski, in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Developed under the Auspices of the UNESCO, Eolss Publishers, Oxford, UK

3. Thomas Barfield, The dictionary of anthropology, Wiley-Blackwell, 1997, ISBN 1-57718-057-7, Google Print, p.498-499

4. Frank Lechner, Globalization theories: World-System Theory, 2001


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