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Summary_6_Wallerstein - Summary 6 Wallerstein Summary Marxs...

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Summary 6 – Wallerstein Summary Marx’s legacy in social theory does not lie in his predictions of future utopias but rather in his analysis of the workings and contradictions of capitalism. Within contemporary sociology this tradition is very much alive in the work-systems theory, a perspective developed by Immanuel Wallerstein. According to Wallerstein, the modern nation state exists within a broad economic, political, and legal framework which he calls a “world-system” (Wallerstein p. 569). Individual societies or nation states cannot be understood without reference to the world-system in which they are embedded. Wallerstein believes that there are only three basic types of social systems. The first he terms as “mini-systems, which are the small homogeneous societies often studied by anthropologists. The second type of social system is a “world-empire.” This system has an economy that is based on the extraction of surplus goods and services from outlying districts. The third type of social system, according to Wallerstein, is the world-economies. Unlike world- empires, the world-economies have no unified political system; not is its dominance based on military power alone. However, like a world-empire, a world-economy is based on the extraction of surplus from outlying districts to those who rule at the center. Wallerstein argues that capitalism has had a division of labor that encompassed several nation states. For Wallerstein, the capitalistic world-economy is a mechanism of surplus appropriation that is both subtle and efficient. It relies upon the creation of surplus through constantly expanding productivity. The surplus is then extracted for the benefit of the elite through the creation of profit. Wallerstein divides the capitalist world-economy into core states, semi-peripheral, and peripheral areas (Wallerstein 529). Eventually, a worldwide economic crisis will be reached and the capitalist world-system will collapse, opening the way for revolutionary change.
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Outline Strong autonomous states serve primarily to distort the “free workings of the capitalist market” in order to increase groups potential for profit. (Wallerstein, p. 569) In short, “only monopolies and large corporations that possess the necessary capital and control of the market can bear” Capitalist World-Economy Core states promote capital accumulation internally while maintaining social order to minimize class struggle. Peripheral states are the least developed. They are exploited by the core for their cheap labor, raw materials and agricultural production. Semi-peripheral states are somewhat intermediate. However, in the recent past they have been expanding their manufacturing activities particularly in products that the core no longer wants.
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