Oxford Bibliography in International Relations:

World-System Theory

Christopher Chase-Dunn and Marilyn Grell-Brisk

v. 7-30-19; 9200 words



Dependency Theory

Emergence of the World-Systems Perspective

Elaborators I, II


Global Commodity and Value Chains

International Relations Theory and the World-Systems Perspective

Women and Gender

Racism, Ethnogenesis, and Slavery

Hegemonic Rise and Fall and Global Social Movements

Ecology, Environment and Climate Change

Regional Applications: Africa, Latin America, Asia



The world-system perspective emerged during the world revolution of 1968 when social scientists contemplated the meaning of Latin American dependency theory for Africa. Immanuel Wallerstein, Terence Hopkins, Samir Amin, Andre Gunder Frank and Giovanni Arrighi developed slightly different versions of the world-system perspective in interaction with each other. The big idea was that the global system had a stratified structure on inequality based on institutionalized exploitation. This implied that the whole system was the proper unit of analysis, not national societies and that development and underdevelopment had been structured by global power relations for centuries. The modern world-system is a self-contained entity based on a geographically differentiated division of labor and bound together by a world market. In Wallerstein’s version capitalism had become predominant in Europe and its peripheries in the long 16th century and had expanded and deepened in waves. The core states were able to concentrate the most profitable economic activities and they exploited the semiperipheral and peripheral regions by means of colonialism and the emergent international division of labor which relies on unequal exchange. The world-system analysts all focused on global inequalities, but their terminologies were somewhat different. Amin and Frank talked about center and periphery. Wallerstein proposed a 3-tiered structure with an intermediate semiperiphery between the core and the periphery, and he used the term “core” to suggest a multicentric region containing a group of states rather than “center”, which implies a hierarchy with a single peak. When the world-system perspective emerged, the focus on the non-core (periphery and semiperiphery) was called Third Worldism. Current terminology refers to the Global North (the core) and the Global South (periphery and semiperiphery).




Karl Marx’s 1867 theory of the contradictions of capitalist development was expanded by the world-system theorists to a global scale. While Marx focused mainly on capitalist industrialization and class relations within core European states, the world-system perspective developed by Wallerstein 1974 saw the core/periphery hierarchy as a central structure for capitalism. What had occurred in the non-core was peripheral capitalism and it was necessary for the reproduction and deepening of capitalism.  Marx had defined capitalism commodity production based on wage labor. The world-system theorists have argued that modern slavery and serfdom were forms of peripheral capitalism. The Marxist view of modern societies in constant tension between the owners of the means production (capitalists) and labor (workers/proletariat) resulting in class conflict is expanded to the whole system, except that labor relations in the non-core involve a greater degree of coercion. World-system analysis is a significant modification of traditional Marxist principles that includes the non-core as a systemic aspect of capitalism. Lenin’s 1916 theory of imperialism as a stage of capitalism was rewritten to emphasize the importance of imperialism as a systemic feature of capitalist development since the emergence of the modern core/periphery hierarch in the 16th century. Nikolai Bukharin’s 1929 discourse on imperialism on capitalism and world economy was an important precursor that focused on flows of value from peripheral/colonial countries to the core capitalist countries. While Lenin saw this relationship of extreme exploitation (imperialism) by the core of the non-core in the capitalist system as the “highest stage” of capitalism, world-systems analysts view imperialism as a central feature of capitalism’s constant, though evolving structure of inequality particularly through Emmanuel Arghiri’s 1972 theory of unequal exchange. Although cycles in production have always existed, for world-system analysts, economic cycles are endemic to the modern capitalist system. The world-economy cycles through periods of growth and expansion (A-phase) and periods of stagnation (B-phase) which, is primarily explained through the work of Nikolai D. Kondratieff 1935, Joseph Schumpeter 1939 and later Ernest Mandel 1975. The Kondratieff long waves or K-waves, which last from 40 to 60 years, are driven by the appearance of new technologies leading to economic expansion and their exhaustion leading to periods of slow growth. Karl Polanyi’s 1944 depiction of cycles of marketization followed by periods of reregulation was also an important influence on world-system theorists. Fernand Braudel’s 1972 focus on the long-term structures of historical development and the importance of cities, agriculture and climate in the interaction networks of the Mediterranean Sea was another major influence of the emergence of the world-system perspective.


Braudel, Fernand. 1972. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II.  New York: Harper and Row, 2 vol.

This text is a major influence on the world-systems perspective given its focus on long-term structures of historical development.


Bukharin, Nikolai. [1929] 1972. Imperialism and World Economy. New York: Monthly Review Press.

An important precursor to the world-systems perspective, this is a study of the internationalization of capital and examines the flow of value from the colonies and peripheral countries to the core states.


Emmanuel, Arghiri. 1972. Unequal Exchange: A Study of the Imperialism of Trade. New York: Monthly Review Press.

This book is an examination of unequal exchange – the maintenance of core position through wage suppression in the periphery – a key aspect of world-system structure.


Kondratieff, Nikolai D. 1935. “The Long Waves in Economic Life.” The Review of Economic Statistics 17(6):105–15.

This artice explains economic cycles of growth, expansion and stagnation endemic in the world-system.


Lenin, Vladimir I.[1916] 1939. Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism. New York: International Publishers.

A precursor to world-systems analysis, this book discusses imperialism as the highest stage in capitalism particularly because of the level of exploitation of peripheral/colonial countries by the core.


Mandel, Ernest. 1975. Late Capitalism. London: New Left Books.

This book serves as a history of capitalism and its expansion through unequal exchange.


Marx, Karl. [1867} 1967. Capital I. New York: International Publishers.

An essential text to understanding class relations.


Polanyi, Karl. 1944. The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. New York: Rinehart & Company, Inc.

This book presents the development of the modern market society, with cycles of expansion, followed by periods of reregulation.


Schumpeter, Joseph A. [1939] 2006. Business Cycles: A Theoretical, Historical, and   Statistical Analysis of the Capitalist Process. Mansfield Centre, Connecticut:         Martino Pub. 

In this book of economic history analyzes the critical role of innovation with regards to economic cycles and transformation.


Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1974. The Modern World System: Capitalist Agriculture and the           Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century, Vol. 1. New York: Academic Press.

This is the seminal work on the world-systems perspective.


Dependency Theory

The world-systems perspective is a direct outgrowth of the dependency theory school of thought which, was an important critic of the dominant modernization theory in social science. Modernization theorists saw a largely linear trajectory from backwardness (poor/peripheral countries) to modernization (rich/core countries) with any in-between period as transitory. As far as modernists were concerned, the path to core-ness was directly through industrialization, which could be attained through transfers of technology and/or direct capital investment. This meant opening up their economies to foreign investment and adopting institutions that would promote the development of commodity production. Dependency theory, emerged out of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (UN ECLAC) discourse led by Raúl Prebisch 1950. It understood the lack of development in the non-core as based on the exploitative nature of core/periphery relations.  The center (core) exploited those at the periphery for natural resources and raw materials, even during the post decolonization period.  Samir Amin 1977 argued that industrialized countries (core) took advantage of the raw materials of poor countries and maintained their advantages via unequal exchange.  Anibal Quijano’s 1967 study of underdevelopment in Peru is a quintessential example of dependency theory. According to dependency theory, as characterized by Gunder Frank 1979, core countries maintain their global advantages because of this structure and therefore the lack of progress was a by-product of this global hierarchy. The relationship between core and periphery engendered what Gunder Frank 1966 called “the development of underdevelopment”. For Paul Baran 1957, a Marxist economist, the monopoly capitalism of the advanced https://irows.ucr.edu/papers/irows88/irows88_files/image002.jpgcapitalist countries allowed them to remain in the core and prevented economic development in “backward” countries. Theotonio dos Santos 1970 maintained that in the world economy the advancement and preservation of development in dominant (core) countries was at the expense of the dependent ones (peripheral countries) and causing their non-development. Brazilian sociologist Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Enzo Faletto 1979 contended that some situations of dependency allowed for certain kinds of development such as dependent capitalist development. Cardoso later became president of Brazil, helping to implement a neoliberal restructuring of the Brazilian economy.


Amin, Samir. 1977. Imperialism and Unequal Development. New York: Monthly Review Press.

This book discusses the exploitative, imperialist nature of the core-periphery relationship.


Baran, Paul A. 1957. The Political Economy of Growth. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Baran’s book on monopoly capital is an important work on the theory of dependency in early development studies.


Cardoso, Fernando Henrique, and Enzo Faletto. 1979. Dependency and Development in Latin America.  Berkeley: University of California Press

This text examines the stages of development in Latin America including its dependence on international markets.


Dos Santos, Theotonio. 1970. “The Structure of Dependence.” The American Economic Review 60(2):231–36.

In this article, the author provides a detailed explanation of the underdevelopment of Latin America and is a foundational text on dependency theory.


Gunder Frank, Andre. 1966. “The Development of Underdevelopment.” Monthly Review - An Independent Socialist Magazine 18(4).

The concept of “development of underdevelopment,” the basic principle of dependency theory and development studies as a sub-discipline is in this text.


Gunder Frank, Andre. 1979. Dependent Accumulation and Underdevelopment. New York: Monthly Review.

Gunder Frank expands on the idea of development of underdevelopment, demonstrating that underdevelopment was a by-poroduct of the modern capitalist order.


Prebisch, Raul. 1950. The Economic Development of Latin America and Its Principal Problems. New York: United Nations.

A very influential and one of the first text on dependency as a product of the structure of the polical economy of the world system.


Quijano, Anibal. 1967. “Tendencies in Peruvian Development and the Class Struggle.” in Latin America: Reform Or Revolution, edited by J. Petras and M. Zeitlin. New York: Fawcett.

This article is a case study in which we observe how development or non-development is shaped by the core.


Emergence of the World-Systems Perspective:

Heavily influenced by dependency theory, and coming through the Annales school which focused on the long-term view of history and integrated social science as emphasized by Fernand Braudel 1979, the world-systems perspective maintained that exploitation of non-core countries by the core countries was both a definitive and necessary marker of the modern world-system. A key moment occurred when Immanuel Wallerstein 1974 realized that Poland had been peripheralized in the long 16th century by its relationship with the rising core capitalist states in Western Europe. Wallerstein 1974 argued that the missing part of the dependency formula was the semi-periphery – a group of countries that were neither core nor periphery. This group of countries were not in a transitional state between modernity/developed and backwards/underdeveloped. The idea of the semiperiphery is one of Wallerstein’s most important analytic contributions to the world-system perspective. The semiperiphery is a stabilizing fixture of the world-system, engaging in equal amounts of core and peripheral activities, benefiting just enough from the global commodity chains to avoid falling into the periphery but not quite enough to rise into the core.


Braudel, Fernand. 1979. Civilization and Capitalism 15th - 18th Century: The Structures of Everyday Life - The Limits of the Possible. Paris: Librairie Armand Colin.

The very essence of what long durée approach to social sciene, this book provides a history of soci-economic life from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution.


Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1974. “Dependence in an Interdependent World: Limited Possibilities of Transformation within the Capitalist World Economy.” African Studies Review 17:1–26.

In this text Wallerstein lays out the groundwork for his concept of the semiperiphery and what it means for the world-system.


Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1974. “The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System: Concepts for Comparative Analysis.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 16(4):387–415.

The necessity of trimodalility, and unequal exchange for the existence and preservation of the modern world-system is outlined in this article.


Elaborators I:

Many scholars such as Christopher Chase-Dunn 1997, have elaborated the concepts and added to a rich and still growing literature of the world-system perspective. Giovanni Arrighi and Jessica Drangel 1986, argued that the semiperiphery could be empirically determined using gross national income per capita as a proxy for world-system position, and found the existence of a stable trimodal distribution of wealth. Arrighi 1994 has also argued that the modern system had emerged in 14th century alliance between Genoa, a capitalist city-state, and the Portuguese King Henry the Navigator.  Terence Hopkins and Wallerstein 1980 described the cyclical rhythms and secular trends of the capitalist world-economy as a stable systemic logic that expands and deepens from its start to its end, but maintains its basic nature over time. Influenced by Fernand Braudel’s focus on cities and finance capital, Arrighi described the evolution of overlapping systemic cycles of accumulation based on changing relations between finance capital and state power. With these overlapping systemic cycles of accumulation came rising and falling hegemons that expanded and deepened the commodification of the whole system. His version of the modern world-system oscillated between more corporatist and more market-organized forms of political structure while the extent of commodification deepened in each round. Like Wallerstein 1984, Arrighi focused on hegemony based on comparative advantages in profitable types of production. He built on Wallerstein’s idea that each hegemon goes through stages in which the comparative advantage is first based on the production of consumer goods, and then capital goods and then finance capital.   For both Wallerstein and Arrighi the hegemon is the top end of a global hierarchy that constitutes the modern core/periphery division of labor. Hegemonies are unstable and tend to devolve into hegemonic rivalry as comparative advantages diffuse and the hegemon fails to stay ahead in the development and implementation of new lead technologies. Except for terminology this is very similar to the power cycle theory of Modelski and Thompson (see section on world-systems and international relations below). Arrighi’s formulation allowed for greater evolutionary changes as the modern system expanded and deepened while the Wallerstein/Hopkins formulation depicted a single continuous underlying logic and structure that did not change much except at the beginning and at the end of the historical system.


Arrighi, Giovanni. 1994. The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of Our Times. New York: Verso.

In this book, the modern world-system is shown to emerge during the 14th century, embodied in the relations between Genoan city states and Portugal and systemic cycles of accumulation are tied to transitions of hegemony.


Arrighi, Giovanni and Jessica Drangel. 1986. “Stratification of the World-Economy: An Exploration of the Semi-Peripheral Zone.” Review (Fernand Braudel Center) X(1):9–74.

This article is an empirical study of world-system positionality from 1938 to 1983 and confirms the exisitence of a trimodal world-economic structure. It is also one of the most in-depth discussion of Wallerstein concept of the semiperiphery.


Chase-Dunn, Christopher. 1998. Global Formation: Structures of the World-Economy.           Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

In this text, Chase-Dunn explains his structural model of the world-system and how that produces global social institutions.


Hopkins, Terence K. and Immanuel Wallerstein. 1980. Processes of the World-System. Beverly Hills: Sage.

This is an edited collection of essays from the third annual conference on the Political Economy of the World-System in May of 1979.


Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1984. "The three instances of hegemony in the history of the capitalist world-economy," in The Politics of the World-Economy, edited by Immanuel Wallerstein. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

In this essay, Wallerstein attempts to meticulously define and explain what is meant by hegemony from the world-systems perspective. He explains the processes that led to each instance of hegemony in the modern world-system.


Elaborators II:

Other scholars placed the emergence of the capitalist world-system at an earlier time or in a different part of the world altogether. Janet Abu-Lughod 1989, argued for a 13th century multicore Eurasian world-system. Gunder Frank and Barry Gills 1993 contended that capitalist imperialism existed since the emergence of cities and states in Mesopotamia in the Bronze Age. Gunder Frank 1978 later argued that the world-system was originally centered in China, which was more developed than Europe well into the 18th century. Samir Amin, agreed with Wallerstein regarding the importance of the rise of predominant capitalism in Europe but he held that core-periphery relations and uneven development also existed in pre-capitalist world-systems. Walter Goldfrank 1978 analyzed the rise of 20th century fascism in world-systems and Polanyian terms as a reaction to systemic crises and he examined how fascist movements and statist authoritarian regimes differed in core, and non-core regions. Chase-Dunn 1988 developed a structural model of the modern world-system inspired by the world historical narratives of the world-system scholars and by Marx’s theory of capitalist development. With Thomas D. Hall 1997, he also developed a comparative evolutionary world-systems approach that conceptualizes world-systems as interpolity systemic interaction networks. The spatial scale of these systemic interaction networks expands with changes in transportation and communication technologies. Early world-systems were composed of small relatively egalitarian polities linked together in spatially small interaction networks. They did not have much in the way of core/periphery hierarchy, but core/periphery hierarchies emerged as world-systems got larger and core polities invented technologies of power that allowed them to extract resources from distant peoples. Chase-Dunn also proposed the idea that semiperipheral polities have often been the locus of implementation of new organizational and institutional features that have transformed world-systems. The work of other scholars shows that some semiperipheries are stabilizing and others are transformative. Beverly Silver demonstrated this for the case of Israel, Goldfrank 1978 for Chile, William Martin 1990 for South Africa, and Arrighi and Drangel for the whole system. Wilma Dunaway 1996 presented evidence of the Appalachian region’s participation in the world-economy. It is an important instance of the nestedness of core/periphery relations and the existence of peripheralized regions within the core. Using qualitative network analysis combined with a world-system approach, Vilna Bashi Treitler 2018 demonstrated how transnational migration patterns cause global structural inequality. William Robinson’s 2004 theory of global capitalism can be viewed as an extension of world-system theory that accounts for some of the distinctive features of recent decades.


Abu-lughod, Janet L. 1989. Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350. New York: Oxford University Press.

Placing the beginnings of modern world system as early as the thirteenth century Abu-Lughod argues for a multicore Eurasian system.


Chase-Dunn, Christopher. 1988. “Comparing World-Systems: Toward a Theory of Semiperipheral Development.” Comparative Civilization Review 19:29–66.

This article the role of the semiperiphery is conceptualized not only a stabilizing force in the world-system but as an essential point for transformational change. 


Chase-Dunn, C and Thomas D. Hall. 1997. Rise and Demise: Comparing World-Systems           Boulder, CO.: Westview Press.

The comparative evolutionary world-system perspective, explaining the expansion of world-systems through interpolity interaction networks, is detailed in this book.


Dunaway, Wilma A. 1996. The First American Frontier: Transition to Capitalism in Southern Appalachia, 1700-1860. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.

This is an in-depth study of the Appalchian region in the world-system, which also highlights the nestedness of core-periphery relations and of peripheralized regions within the core.


Goldfrank, Walter. 1978. “Fascism and World Economy.” in Social Change in the Capitalist World Economy. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, Inc.

This chapter is a comparative analysis that explains how the rise of fascism is directly related to a country’s level of capitalist development.


Gunder Frank, Andre. 1978. World Accumulation: 1492-1789. New York: Monthly Review Press.

This text examines the idea of capital accumulation as one continuous process that included the pre-industrial capitalist societies and generated particular types of economic cycles.


Gunder Frank, Andre and Barry K. Gills. 1993. The World System: Five Hundred Years or Five Thousand. edited by A. Gunder Frank and B. K. Gills. New York: Routledge.

This book is an important examination of the idea of the world system and when andv where it emerged. While the editors argue that capitalist imperialism appeared in Mesopotamia 5000 years ago others simply contends that core-periphery relationships and uneven development occurred in pre-industrial societies.


Martin, William G. 1990. Semiperipheral States in the World-Economy, edited by W. G. Martin. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

This is an essential book for understanding not only the role of the semiperiphery in the world-system but also semiperipheral development. A series of essays explain the stabilizing and sometimes transformational nature of the semiperiphery.


Robinson, William I. 2004. A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

This book is fundamental to understanding global capitalism as an extension of the modern world-system and the emergence of transnational capital.


Treitler, Vilna Bashi. 2018. “Migration as a Response to Global Inequality.” in Global Inequalities in World System Perspectives, edited by M. Boatca, A. Komlosy, and H.-H. Nolte. New York: Routledge.

This book chapter is an example of how the global political economy shapes trasnational migration patterns, which in turn can affect global structural inequality.



World-system analysis and its proponents have generated a wealth of scholarship, intellectual institutions and new ways of theorizing social change. Wallerstein’s The Modern World System has presented the world history of social change as driven by capitalist economic accumulation. Wallerstein’s version epitomizes an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach to scholarship, and many world-system scholars have followed suit. The issue of when the modern world-system first emerged is linked with different definitions and conceptions of capitalism, but the idea of cyclical waves of capitalist development implies that the modern system may have emerged at several different points, which depowers the importance of settling on a definitive answer as highlighted in the above section.  Aristide Zolberg 1981 saw The Modern World-System, and by extension, world-system analysis in general, as logically circular economic reductionism.  Theda Skocpol 1977 critiqued Wallerstein for his lack of insight on how and why capitalism emerged in Europe. For Skocpol, Wallerstein’s arguments were teleological – the feudal system in Europe was in crisis and therefore, the system readjusted and came out of the crisis because of the emergence of the capitalist world-system. Robert Brenner 1977, who called Wallerstein’s work “neo-Smithian,” argued that Wallerstein’s discussion of core-periphery relationship ignored the class struggles internal to the nation state in favor of external factors. Missing from Wallerstein’s analysis of the transformation from feudal to capitalist world-economy was the transformation of production relations that spurred competition and therefore the need to maximize profits – key to capitalist economy. Core-periphery relations, Brenner held, were nothing like Marxist production relations. Yet, world-system analysis was also charged with prioritizing class struggles and a “master narrative” over issues of race and gender by Stanley Aronowitz 1981 and with neglecting the environment. World-system analysis, especially The Modern World-System has also been critiqued as Eurocentric by scholars like Alexander Anievas and Kerem Niancolu 2015. Leslie Sklair 2012 argued that world-system analysis tends to be state-centric, ignoring transnational processes. Furthermore, it overlooks culture and insufficiently recognizes the distinct features of the global stage of capitalism. Wallerstein was also taken to task for his limited incorporation of the environment and ecology into the logic of the world-system by Sing Chew 1992 and 1997. Wallerstein responded to his critics in the Prologue of the 2011 edition of The Modern World System. Arrighi 1998 and Jason Moore 2003 have also provided responses to some of these critiques.


Anievas, Alexander and Kerem Niancolu. 2015. How The West Came To Rule. London: Pluto Press.

While the authors acknowledge the intellectual strengths of the world-systems perspective, they assert that much of this approach, particularly as espoused by Wallerstein, is eurocentric at its core.


Arrighi, Giovanni. 1998. “Capitalism and the Modern World-System: Rethinking the Nondebates of the 1970s.” Review (Fernand Braudel Center) 21(1):113–29.

In this article, Arrighi confronts and responds to the major critiques of the world-systems perspective.


Aronowitz, Stanley. 1981. “Metatheoretical Critique of Immanuel Wallerstein’s ‘The Modern World-System’.” Theory and Society 10(4):503–20.

In this article, Wallerstein’s is charged with insufficiently addressing issues of race, gender and the environment while over focusing on class struggles in The Modern World-System.


Brenner, Robert. 1977. “The Origins of Capitalist Development: A Critique of Neo-Smithian Marxism.” New Left Review 104:25–92.

One of the most cited critiques of The Modern World-System, in which Brenner argues that Wallerstein ignored the class struggles internal to the nation state in favor of external factors.


 Chew, Sing. 1992. Logs for Capital: The Timber Industry and Capitalist Enterprise in the           Nineteenth Century. Westport: Greenwood Press.

In this book, Chew examines the dynamics of capital accumulation in the natural resource sector, specifically the timber industry. He focuses on the capitalist enterprise and skillfully ties it to capitalist transformations at the world-system level.  


Chew, Sing. 1997. “For Nature: Deep Greening World-Systems Analysis for the 21st Century.” Journal of World-Systems Research 3(3):381–402.

In this article, Chew discusses the limits of the world-systems perspectives with regards to ecological and environmentally focused analysis.


Frank, Andre Gunder 1998. ReORIENT: Global Economy In the Asian Age. Berkeley: University of California Press.

In this book Gunder Frank presents his argument that the capitalist world-economy was initially centered in China, contrary to Wallerstein’s that the modern world-system emerged in Europe and predicted that the world-system would once again center around China.


Moore, Jason W. 2003. “‘The Modern World-System’ as Environmental History? Ecology and the Rise of Capitalism.” Theory and Society 32(3):307–77.

This article meticulously combs through The Modern World-System to demonstrate Wallerstein’s incorporation of the environment in his inquiry of the emergence of the modern capitalist world-system.


Sklair, Leslie. 2012. “Challenges of Globalization Theory to World-Systems Analysis” in           Routledge Handbook of World-Systems Analysis: Theory and Research, edited          by Salvatore Babones and Christopher Chase-Dunn. London: Routledge.

This article discusses the transnational processes that undergird contemporary global capitalism.


Skocpol, Theda. 1977. “Wallerstein’s World Capitalist System: A Theoretical and Historical Critique.” American Journal of Sociology 82(5):1075–90.

Another highly cited article which is critical of The Modern System, particularly Wallerstein’s discussion on why and when the capitalist world-system emerged questioning how the crisis facing the feudal system in Europe was resolved by the system readjusting itself because of the emergence of the capitalist world-system.


Zolberg, Aristide R. 1981. “Origins of the Modern World System: A Missing Link.” World Politics 33(2):253–81.

In this article, the very logic the emergence of the world-system is questioned and Zolberg argues that The Modern World-System suffered from circular economic reductionist argumentation. 


Global Commodity and Value Chains

In 1986 Terence Hopkins and Immanuel Wallerstein published an article entitled "Commodity chains in the world-economy prior to 1800" in Review, the journal of the Fernand Braudel Center at SUNY, Binghamton. They asserted that the capitalist world economy is composed of commodity chains -- forward and backward linkages of processes of production and consumption.  As Jennifer Bair 2009 explains, these treelike sequences of production processes, exchanges, and final consumption acts, link raw materials, labor, the sustenance of labor, intermediate processing, final processing, transportation and final consumption into materially connected networks. The great bulk of consumption in the capitalist world-economy is of products whose commodity chains cross national boundaries, much of which, link the core and the non-core. Hopkins and Wallerstein contended that core activities occurred at those nodes on commodity chains where capital-intensive technology and skilled highly paid labor were used, and where relatively greater amounts of surplus value were appropriated. The analysis and empirical study of commodity and value chains was taken up by Gary Gereffi 1994, and a whole cottage industry emerged examining the transnational linkages and locations of profit-making. Fascinating world historical studies of single commodity chains were carried out such as the ones by Ben Derudder and Frank Witlox 2010 and John Talbot 2004 of the coffee industry or Jane Lou Collins’ 2003 on the international apparel industry. Gereffi 2018 developed the idea that buyer-driven commodity chains are one of the key organizational features of global capitalism. Commodity chain and value chain analysis has been used to counsel cities and countries about how to move up the global food chain to obtain greater shares of the profits. This literature became increasingly distant from the original focus of Hopkins and Wallerstein to understand how global inequalities are reproduced, though some scholars advocated a return to its global justice roots.


Bair, Jennifer. 2009. “Commodity Chains: Genealogy and Review” in Frontiers of        Commodity Chains Research, edited by Jennifer Bair. Palo Alto: Stanford       University Press.

This book chapter is an overview of the literature on commodity chains from a world-system, global commodity, and global value chains perspective.


Collins, Jane Lou. 2003. Threads: Gender, Labor, and Power in the Global Apparel     Industry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

This is a fascinating study of the transnational processes at work that drive the international apparel industry and limits labor mobilization.


Derudder, Ben and Frank Witlox. 2010. Commodity Chains and World Cities. Malden:           Wiley-Blackwell.

This is a look at the coffee commodity chain from a transnational and critical geography – world cities perspective.


Gereffi, Gary. 2018. Global Value Chains and Development: Redefining the Contours of       21st Century Capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

This book contains the seminal texts for the global value chains (which is different from global commodity chains) approach to understanding contemporary global capitalism.


Gereffi, Gary. 1994. “The Organization of Buyer-Driven Global Commodity Chains: How       US Retailers Shape Overseas Production Networks” in Commodity Chains and     Global Capitalism, edited by Gary Gereffi and Miguel Korzeniewicz. Westport: Greenwood Press.

Gereffi argues that buyer-driven commodity chains (large retailers, marketers and branded manufacturers) as opposed to producer-driven commodity chains (large transnational manufacturers) is the key organizing feature of contemporary global capital.


Hopkins, Terence K and Immanuel Wallerstein. 1986. "Commodity Chains in The       World-          Economy Prior To 1800." Review 10(1): 157-70.

One of the first papers that launched the global commodity chains approach and its key concepts in world-systems analysis. It raises the issue of surplus value and its appropriation within the commodity chain.


Talbot, John M. 2004. Grounds for agreement: the political economy of the coffee     commodity chain. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

This is an in-depth study of the world coffee industry from a global commodity chain and world-system perspective.


International Relations Theory and the World-System Perspective

There has been considerable overlap with some international relations schools, especially the long cycle theory developed by George Modelski and William R. Thompson. Despite different conceptual terminologies, these approaches have had much in common. They both see economics and politics as intertwined logics and analyze the rise and fall of hegemonic core powers, though Modelski and Thompson call them “system leaders.” Both Thompson and Modelski turned to questions of long-term sociocultural evolution. The world-system scholars are less functionalist and more critical of global capitalism and the great powers. One important difference is about the attention paid to the non-core. Like most international relations theorists, Modelski and Thompson focused most of their attention on the “great powers” in the interstate system – what world-system scholars call the core. The world-systems scholars see the whole system, including the periphery and semiperiphery, as an interdependent and hierarchical whole in which inequalities are reproduced by the normal operations of the system.


Chase-Dunn, Christopher and Hiroko Inoue. 2018. “Long Cycles and World-Systems:           Theoretical Research Programs” in Oxford Encyclopedia of Empirical International           Relations Theories, Volume 2, edited by William R. Thompson. New York:  Oxford           University Press and the Online Oxford Research Encyclopedia in Politics.

This article provides an evolutionary world-systems perspective on international relations.


Modelski, George. 1987. Long Cycles in World Politics. Seattle: University of    Washington Press.

This book discusses the rise and decline of world powers since the sixteenth century.


Modelski, George and William R. Thompson. 1996. Leading Sectors and World Powers: The Coevolution of Global Economics and Politics.  Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

This book examines the coordinated cyclical movements of world economic and political powers.


Reuveny, Rafael and William. R. Thompson. 2008. North and South in the Global Political Economy. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

The evolution of the Global North-Global South divide is explored in this compilation of essays from the International Studies Association’s 2006 Annual Meeting.  


Thompson, William R. (Ed). 2001. Evolutionary Interpretations of World Politics. London: Routledge.

This book examines global social and political change from an evolutionary perspective.


Thompson, William R. and George Modelski. 1998. “Pulsations in the World System: Hinterland to Center Incursions and Migrations, 4000 B.C. to 1500 A.D.” in Leadership, Production and Exchange: World Systems Theory in Practice, edited by Nicholas Kardulias. Boulder: Rowman and Littlefield.

This chapter highlights the role of the migration of people from the non-core into the core in global transformations.


Women and Gender

Feminists argued that the original world-system perspective ignored gender hierarchy and some sought to remedy that defect. Maria Mies 1986 explored the links between core/periphery hierarchy, gender relations and the ways in which capitalist accumulation relied on the unwaged labor of women households. Claudia von Wehrlof 1984 contended that the most fundamental dimension of oppression and exploitation in the capitalist world-economy (both core and periphery) is that which exploits the unpaid labor of women and peasant "semi-proletarians." The definitional blindness which fails to calculate the labor contribution expended within households and within the peripheral non-monetized sectors to the reproduction of the world work force was seen as fundamental to the nature of the modern system, rather than as a vestigial backwater of a former mode of production.  Wallerstein 1983 argued that the systematic reproduction of non-wage forms of labor is the main mechanism which prevents the equalization of core capitalist accumulation.  Kathryn Ward 1984, and 1993 working from the "women and development" perspective, contended that it is the combination of Western health technology and the kind of dependent economic development occurring in the periphery that stunted the demographic transition and worsened the economic status of women.  Joan Smith et al. 1988 provided an in-depth look at how racism and sexism are part and parcel of the capitalist world-economy disguising unpaid labor in the working-class household. The low pay and non-remuneration generated by sexism and racism have subsidized the capitalist economy and maintained inequality. Valentine Moghadam 1999 theorized that capitalist accumulation in the world-economy included both waged and non-waged labor (particularly that of women) and both formal and informal labor, adding a gender dynamic in the spheres of production and reproduction of global accumulation. Wilma Dunaway 2014 reminded scholars that global commodity chains include the reproductive labor and unpaid household labor of women.


Dunaway, Wilma A. 2014. “Introduction.” in Gendered Commodity Chains: Seeing women’s work and households in global production, edited by W. A. Dunaway. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

In this book chapter, Dunaway argues for the inclusion of gendered work in global commodity chains in particular, women’s reproductive labor.


Mies, Maria. 1986. Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale. London: Zed Books

This book theorizes the role of women in the international division of labor


Moghadam, Valentine M. 1999. “Gender and Globalization: Female Labor and Women’s Mobilization.” Journal of World-Systems Research 5(2):367–88.

In this article, Moghadam adds a gender dynamic by including waged and non-waged labor of women in theorizing the spheres of production and reproduction of global accumulation.


Smith, Joan, Jane Collins, Terrence K. Hopkins, and Akbar Muhammad, eds. 1988. Racism, Sexism and the World-System. New York: Greenwood Press.

An important text which conceptualises racism and sexism as part and parcel of the capitalist world-economy.


von Werlhof, Claudia. 1984. "The proletariat is dead; long live the housewife?" in

          Households and the World-Economy, edited by Joan Smith, Immanuel   Wallerstein and Hans-Dieter Evers. Beverly Hills: Sage

A discussion of housework as a contribution to the world-economy.


Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1983.  Historical Capitalism.  London:  Verso.

In this text, Wallerstein argues that structural inequality can be maintained through systematic reproduction of non-wage forms of labor.


Ward, Kathryn B. 1984. Women in the World-System: Its Impact on Status and Fertility. New York: Praeger.

In this book, Ward argues that the economic conditions which cause underdevelopment in peripheral and semiperipheral states are the same ones that reproduce the inferior economic status of women as well as continued levels of fertility and growing economic inequality.


Ward, Kathryn B. 1993. “Reconceptualizing World-System Theory to Include Women.” in Theory on Gender/Feminism on Theory, edited by P. England. New York: Aldine Publishing.

In this book chapter, Ward contends that comparisons can be drawn between core-semiperiphery-periphery relations and the economic status and conditions of women.


Racism, Ethnogenesis, and Slavery

There is a limited but important scholarship on racism, ethnogenesis and slavery from the world-systems perspective. Immanuel Wallerstein 1987 contended that racism is structurally connected with the core/periphery hierarchy of the modern world-system. Based on his work on incorporation of peoples who had been on the outer edge of large world-systems, Thomas Hall 1998 argued that the process through which ethnic groups (ancient and contemporary) have been created, transformed (ethnogenesis) and destroyed cannot be understood without understanding world-system processes. Wilma Dunaway 1996 has written extensively on the incorporation of Appalachia and the Cherokee into the modern world-system, while Sandra Faiman-Silva 1997 brought the Choctaw into the incorporation literature. Dale Tomich 1990 studied the impact of the transforming world-economy on the plantation system and more specifically on slave-dependent agricultural economies. He focused on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean using the concept of “circuit of sugar” to demonstrate the connectedness of the sugar market with production and trade in the world-economy. Later, Tomich 2004 expanded his work to focus on the role of slavery in the development of the capitalist world-economy at large. Marietta Morrissey 1989 examined the intersection between slavery and gender in the world-economy. In their discussion of modes of accumulation in world-systems, Chase-Dunn and Hall 1992 note that when slaves were treated as private property and traded on a price-setting market, slavery had become commodified labor. Wallerstein, on the other hand, claimed plantation slavery in the European periphery was a form of capitalist production. Arrighi 1990 distinguished between voluntary (immigration) and involuntary (labor of slaves) unilateral transfers of labor which, like unequal exchange, contributed to the formation and continued reproduction of the world-economic system and the core/periphery hierarchy.


Arrighi, Giovanni. 1990. “The Developmentalist Illusion: A Reconceptualization of the Semiperiphery.” Pp. 11–42 in Semiperipheral States in the World-Economy, edited by W. G. Martin. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

In this book chapter, Arrighi argues that involuntary unilateral transfers of labor such as the labor of slaves was just as significant as unequal exchange in the continued reproduction of the core-periphery hierarchy of the modern world-system.


Chase-Dunn, Christopher and Thomas D. Hall. 1992. “World-Systems and Modes of Production: Toward the Comparative Study of Transformations.” Humboldt Journal of Social Relatons 18(1):81–117.

Chase-Dunn and Hall’s article note that the argument that slaves were private property and could be traded on a price-setting market meant that slavery was commodified labor.


Dunaway, Wilma A. 1996. “The Incorporation of Mountain Ecosystems into the Capitalist World-System.” Review (Fernand Braudel Center) 19(4):355–81.

In this article Dunaway documents the incorporation of the Appalachian region into the capitalist world-economy.

Faiman-Silva, Sandra L. 1997. Choctaws at the Crossroads: The Political Economy of Class and Culture in the Oklahoma Timber Region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Using the world-systems approach, this book examines the political economy of the Choctaws at the end of the twentieth century.


Hall, Thomas D. 1998. “The Effects of Incorporation into World-Systems on Ethnic Processes: Lessons from the Ancient World for the Contemporary World.” International Political Science Review/Revue Internationale de Science Politique 19(3):251–67.

Thomas Hall argued that the process through which ethnic are created, transformed and destroyed cannot be understood without understanding world-system processes.


Morrissey, Marietta. 1989. Slave Women in the New World: Gender Stratification in the Caribben. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Morrissey’s text is an excellent study of the intersection between slavery and gender in the world-economy.


Tomich, Dale W. 1990. Slavery in the Circuity of Sugar: Martinique and the World Economy, 1830-1848. Baltimore: Johns Hopins University Press.

In this book Tomich examines the impact of a changing world-economy on slave-dependent agricultural economies.


Tomich, Dale W. 2004. Through the Prism of Slavery: Labor, Capital and World Economy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

This text presents a thorough study of the role of slavery in the development of the capitalist world-economy.


Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1987 “The construction of peoplehood: racism, nationalism, ethnicity” Sociological Forum II, 2:373-388. 


Hegemonic Rise and Fall and Global Social Movements

All world-systems are multicentric interpolity systems, but they vary in terms the degree of concentration of political, military and economic power exists among the contending core polities. So-called world empires had very large powerful states or empires in the core, but there have not been any empirical world-systems in which a single polity dominates the whole system. All systems oscillate about the degree of concentration of power.  Paramount chiefdoms, hegemonic core states and gigantic empires all rise and fall.  The world-system perspective depicts three modern periods of hegemony, the Dutch in the 17th century, the British in the 19th century and the United States in the 20th century. The Dutch hegemony was more a case of the leading edge in the development of capitalist institutions (stock markets and transnational corporations) than a preponderance of military power. Giovanni Arrighi 2007 proposed that systemic cycles of accumulation were tied to transitions of hegemony, and his later book on China devotes considerable attention to the decline of U.S. hegemony. Using the World Labor Research Working Group Database on Labor Unrest, Beverly Silver 2003 has shown that there has been a strong link between labor-capital conflict as indicated by strike activity and cycles of hegemony. Chase-Dunn and Bruce Podobnik 1995 as well as Robert Denemark 2018 have identified the ways in which changes in the power of states have led to large scale warfare. Arrighi and Silver 1999 discussed the hegemonic decline of the United States and the possibilities for a non-catastrophic transition from U.S. hegemony. Jackie Smith 2001 linked social movements and global resistance protests to capitalist labor-capital conflicts. Smith and Dawn Weist 2012 noted that deepening global crises have been generated by the negative effects of the neoliberal globalization project. Albert Bergesen and Christian Suter 2018 analyzed waves of globalization and de-globalization as well as interimperial rivalry and economic nationalism.


Arrighi, Giovanni. 2007. Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Verso.

This text deals with the rise of contemporary China and the decline of U.S. hegemony.


Arrighi, Giovanni and Beverly J. Silver. 1999. Chaos and Governance in the Modern World System. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.

This book provides an in-depth examination of the U.S. hegemonic decline and the possibilities for a non-catastrophic transition either to a multipolar world or to give rise to a new hegemon.


Bergeson, Albert J., and Christian Suter. 2018. The Return of Geopolitics. Zurich: LiT Verlag.

This is a collection of essays on interimperial rivalry and economic nationalism.


Chase-Dunn, Christopher and Bruce Podobnik. 1995. “The Next World War: World-System Cycles and Trends.” Journal of World-Systems Research 1(6):317–48.

This text deals with the role of large scale warfare on changes in the power of states in the world-system.


Chase-Dunn, Christopher, Roy Kwon, Kirk Lawrence, and Hiroko Inoue. 2011. “Last Of        The Hegemons: US Decline and Global Governance. International Review of          Modern Sociology 37(1): 1-29.

An examination of economic and military power since 1820 using macro-economic indicators.


Denemark, Robert. 2018. “Nuclear War in the Rivalry Phase of the Modern World-System.” Journal of World-Systems Research 24(2): 348-371.

An in-depth historical analysis of the rivalry phase of the modern world-system, wherein the use of nuclear weapons in large scale warfare is becoming more and more possible.  


Silver, Beverly J. 2003. Forces of Labor: Workers’ Movements and Globalization Since 1870. New York: Cambridge University Press.

This is a thorough text on the link between cycles of hegemony and labor-capital conflict.


Smith, Jackie. 2001. “Globalizing Reistance: The Battle of Seattle and the Future of Social Movements.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly 6(1):1–19.

In this article, the link between social movements and global resistance protests to capitalist labor-capital conflicts is very clearly drawn.


Smith, Jackie and Dawn Wiest. 2012. Social Movements in the World-System: The Politics of Crisis and Transformation. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

This book documents the deepening global crises generated by the negative effects of the neoliberal globalization project.


Ecology, Environment and Climate Change

Early iterations of the world-systems perspective was critiqued for neglecting ecology and the environment in its analysis of global change. However, many scholars have emerged to bring climate into the discourse. Peter Grimes 1999  and  J. Timmons Roberts and Peter Grimes 1999 note that world-systems’ holistic, materialist, structuralist and long history approach to analyis is an excellent tool for understanding the environment and cycles of crisis and non-core exploitation. Wallerstein 1999 addressed the question of the environment in the capitalist world-economy in his keynote at the 11th Political Economy of the World-Systems Spring Conference. He pointed to the contradictory relationship between the push for endless accumulation of capital, and the exploitation and subjection of nature to that end.  This relationship is based on the idea that nature is meant to be conquered by man and the fact that capitalists do not pay the price of the negative effects of the exploitation of nature. For Wallerstein, capitalism will reach an asymtotic crisis point in part because corporations will increasingly be required to pay ofr the encivronmental costs that their activities incur. Stephen G. Bunker and Paul S. Ciccantell 1999 argue that the distinctive feature of the modern capitalist world-economy is its systematic expansion of the exploitation of nature via the global division of labor. Each rising hegemon expands the exploitation of nature in order to expand capital accumulation. It is not the expansion of capital accumulation that expands the exploitation of nature. For Jason Moore 2015, capitalism emerges through the relations humans have with nature (world-ecological process). Moore develops the concept of world-ecology wherein capitalism is both appropriative and exploitative, pushing capitalist transformation of nature beyond the commodification of nature. Alf Hornborg 2009 notes that the discourse on development must incorporate the role of the world-system structure. Hornborg 2001 examines the ways technology and technological fixes to economic crises, can generate uneven development but remain unsustainable. Andrew Jorgenson 2003 utilizes the historically grounded world-systems core-periphery model to demonstrate the link between environmental degradation as both the cause and consequence of underdevelopment in the semiperiphery and periphery. Jorgenson and Edward L. Kick 2003 examine how the world-economy and other non-economic systems, structure and impact the environment and lives of people across the globe, from Ancient Egypt to the Modern Amazon. John Foran and Richard Widick 2011 take a climate justice approach arguing political cultures of resistance, such as global climate justice movements are necessary for dealing with the ecological crises of the modern world-system.


Bunker, Stephen G. and Paul S. Ciccantell. 1999. “Economic Ascent and the Global Environment: World-Systems Theory and the New Historical Materialism.” in Ecology and The World-System, edited by W. Goldfrank, D. Goodman, and A. Szasz. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

In this book chapter, the systematic expansion of the exploitation of nature via the global division of labor is presented as the distinctive feature of the modern world-system.


Foran, John and Richard Widick. 2011. Earth Crisis?: A Forward-Looking Agenda for Research on the Cultural Causes and Consequences of Climate Change 2010-2020 and Beyond. Washington, DC.

This text provides a basic assessment of the ecological crises generated by the modern world-system, and demonstrates the need for global climate justic movements.


Peter Grimes. 1999. “The Horsemen and the Killing Fields: The Final Contradiction of Capitalism” in Ecology and The World-System, edited by W. L. Goldfrank, D. Goodman, and A. Szasz. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

In this book chapter, the link between environmental degradation and capital accumulation is teased out from an ecololgical and world-system perspective.


Hornborg, Alf. 2001. The Power of the Machine: Global Inequalities of Economy, Technology and Environment. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

This book examines the role of technology and technological fixes to global economic crises can in fact generaate unequal development.


Hornborg, Alf. 2009. “Zero-Sum World: Challenges in Conceptualizing Environmental Load Displacement and Ecologically Unequal Exchange in the World-System.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 50:237–62.

In this journal article, Hornborg makes the case for world-systems analysis to explicate the limits of development.


Jorgenson, Andrew K. 2003. “Consumption and Environmental Degradation: A Cross-National Analysis of the Ecological Footprint.” Social Problems 50(3).

An essential text in understanding the link between environmental degradation as both the cause and consequence of underdevelopment in the semiperiphery and periphery.


Jorgenson, Andrew K. and Edward L. Kick. 2003. “Globalization and the Environment.” Journal of World-Systems Research IX(2):195–203.

This is a special issue of the Journal of World-Systems Research which describes how the world-economy and other non-economic systems, structure and impact the environment and lives of people across the globe, from Ancient Egypt to the Modern Amazon.


Moore, Jason W. 2015. Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the the Accumulation of Capital. New York: Verso.

An important text on the world-ecological process, which is the emergence of capitalism through the relations humans have with nature. Capitalism is established as both appropriative and exploitative, pushing capitalist transformation of nature beyond the commodification of nature.


Roberts, J. Timmons and Peter Grimes. 1999. “Extending the World-System to the Whole System: Towards a Political Economy of the Biosphere.” in Ecology and The World-System, edited by W. L. Goldfrank, D. Goodman, and A. Szasz. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

The case is made for the world-systems’ holistic, materialist, structuralist and long history approach to analyis to understanding the environment and cycles of crisis and relations of exploitation.


Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1999. “Ecology and Capitalist Costs of Production: No Exit.” in Ecology and The World-System, edited by W. Goldfrank, D. Goodman, and A. Szasz. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

This is a keynote address given at an early Political Economy of the World-Systems Spring Conference, in which Wallerstein details the relationship between the exploitation of nature and capitalism.


Regional Applications: Africa, Latin America, Asia

Africa: Wallerstein 1961 has claimed that his scholarship has been inspired by the African nationalist movements, observing that they clearly understood their systemic colonial situation. He points to the significant role of colonialism in the development of underdevelopment (to use Gunder Frank’s words). He also notes that the emergence of the capitalist mode of production in Europe and the building of a hierarchical world-division of labor, led to the preemptive incorporation of Africa into the periphery of the Europe-centered system. Arrighi 2002 highlighted the systemic processes that precipitated the collapse of African economies in the 1980s and kept much of the African continent at the bottom of the world hierarchy of wealth. Following Arrighi’s methodological cues, Marilyn Grell-Brisk 2019 showed that, while the African region continues to stagnate in terms of the global economic hierarchy, some individual countries have benefited from their interactions with the Peoples’ Republic of China, which have, in part, allowed them to steadily move up the hierarchy or maintain semiperipheral status. Latin America: Andre Gunder Frank was the original Latin Americanist who developed his version of the world-system perspective. His work emphasized how Latin American societies had been linked with and exploited by the European core since the 16th century. Korzeniewicz and Smith 1996 and the other contributors to Latin America in the World System suggest that the region, during the 1990s, was experiencing a great transformation. William Robinson 2008, a theorist of global capitalism, is a Central Americanist who has studied how the economic and political trajectories of Latin American societies have been shaped by globalizing capitalism. Asia: Ho-fung Hung 2016 analyzed the rise of China in the contemporary world-system and how it may transform the structure and dynamics of global capitalism. He demonstrated that the possibility of a Chinese-centered global economy but argued that China will not become a new hegemonic core power. Silver and Lu Zhang 2009 argued that China could become an important new locus of global labor/ capital conflict. Takeshi Hamashita 2008 studied the changing relationship between East Asia and the Europe-centered world-economy since the 16th century. Alvin So and Stephen Chiu 1995 examined the origins and transformation of East Asia from a world-systems perspective, while Frederic Deyo 1987 looked at the how the newly industrializing countries of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, were shaped by the global economic order.


Arrighi, Giovanni. 2002. “The African Crisis: World Systemic and Regional Aspects.” New Left Review 15(May/June):5–36.

In this article, Arrighi documents the systemic reasons for the collapse of the world economy which relegated much of Africa to the bottom of the world hierarchy of wealth.


So, Alvin and Stephen Chiu. 1995. East Asia and the World-Economy. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publishing.

An excellent book on the geopolitical and regional factors in the development of East Asia in the world-system.


Deyo, Frederic C. 1987. The Political Economy of the New Asian Industrialism. Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press.

This is an important work on the influence of the global political economy of the world-system on the emerging Asian powers of the 1990s.


Grell-Brisk, Marilyn. 2019. “Arrested Development? Sub-Saharan Africa in the Stratified World-Economy 1965 to 2015.” Journal of Contemporary African Studies.

Grell-Brisk, using the methods of Arrghi and Drangel, empirically demonstrates the world-system position of much of Sub-Saharan Africa in the contemporary world economy.


Hamashita, Takeshi. 2008. China, East Asia and the Global Economy. edited by L. Grove and M. Selden. New York: Routledge.

This is a historically grounded text on the changing relationship between East Asia and the Europe-centered capitalist world-economy.


Hung, Ho-fung. 2016. The China Boom: Why China Will Not Rule The World. New York: Columbia University Press.

This is a fundamental text in understanding the political economy of the rise of China and why this does not translate into hegemony for China.


Korzeniewicz, Roberto Patricio and William C. Smith. 1996. “A Great Transformation?” in Latin America in the World-Economy, edited by R. P. Korzeniewicz and W. C. Smith. Westport, CT: Greenwood and Praeger.

This text details the expansion of capital accumulation, and possible transformation of Latin America.


Robinson, William I. 2008. Latin America and Global Capitalism: A Critical Globalization Perspective. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

In this book, Robinson examines how globalizing capitalism have shaped the economic and political trajectories of Latin American societies.


Silver, Beverly J. and Lu Zhang. 2009. “China as an Emerging Epicenter of World Labor Unrest.” in China and the Transformation of Global Capitalism, edited by H. Hung. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

In this essay, Silver and Zhang make the case for China as a new center of global labor-capital conflict.


Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1961. Africa: The Politics of Independence and Unity. New York: Vintage Books.

In this text, Wallerstein emphasizes the role of colonialism in the development of underdevelopment in Africa.