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Read one sociology article and write an essay about 250 words (2-3 paragraphs)

Here is the instruction: For the article by Wallerstein and Hopkins, begin by briefly summarizing (a few sentences) the opening Section I:

The Modern World-System as the Focus

. For the rest of your essay, choose either Section II:

A. Division of Labor


B. State System.

Connect the discussions in Section II with the hypotheses posited in Section III. How do these propositions help us theorize, generally, about the global economy?

Reading is attached below.

Research Foundation of State University of New York
Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System
Author(s): Terence K. Hopkins and Immanuel Wallerstein
Source: Review (Fernand Braudel Center), Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall, 1977), pp. 111-145
Published by: Research Foundation of State University of New York for and on behalf of
the Fernand Braudel Center
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Review, I, 2, Fall 1977, 111-1-45.
Patterns of Development
of the
Modern World-System
Research Proposal*
I. The Modern World-System as the Focus
In the past decade or so the “developmentalist” perspective in social science,
which provides the predominant mode of depicting and interpreting social
change in today’s world (and by extension in the modern world over time), has
come in for increasing criticism. This perspective assumes as its basic premise
that the theoretical unit for thé study of social change is “society” in the
abstract. Accordingly, the world is said to consist of a number of related but
basically autonomous “societies” (which on examination usually turn out to be
the state-centered entities shown on maps of the globe) each moving upward
along an essentially similar path of development. Some, of course, started their
ascents earlier than others, thereby showing the way to. late-starters; and some
proceeded at times more rapidly than others, suffering accordingly from forcing
historical change. But they all trace broadly parallel lines of development in a
quadrant having level of development for its y-axis and historical time for its
x-axis. Given this imagery, the task of the social scientist is clear: it is to con*This research proposal was drafted by Terence K. Hopkins and Immanuel Wallerstein after numerous
sessions of a working group of the Center which also included Nicole Bousquet, Neville Dyson-Hudson,
Philip McMichael, and Dale Tomich.
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struct, and to test out, expl
than others, why some have
theories, constructs, and hy
plausible explanations of dev
Criticism of that perspecti
quacies of “developmentalist
on the perspective’s paradigm
autonomous “societies” devel
place, and in place of the p
proposing an alternative pre
studying modern social chan
perspective.1 The premise is t
and social change occurs is n
a spatio-temporal whole, wh
division of labor among its
scope extends for as long as
duces the “world” as a social
unchanging scale). Specifical
social change has been and c
emerges in the sixteenth cen
“world-system” has since gro
its geographical scope (and n
ity (capital formation), in it
ence), and in its penetration
ever-present division of cen
“peripheries,” united and rep
and unequal exchange, and ”
such that its “growth” (as r
tinues to
“rates of
occur in “waves” (as
growth”). The phases
real conditions of such action
The modern world-economy
as a whole when it emerged in
of the several political jurisdi
world-economy brought into
The progressive formation
relation tô one another in t
* See
I. Wallerstein, “A World-Syste
XXVII, 3, Sept. 1976, 343-353
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 113
the increasingly “core” areas of the world-system and the increasingly “periphe
al” areas. And the world-economy became basically structured as an increasin
interrelated system of strong “core” and weak “peripheral” states, in whi
inter-state relations – and hence patterns of state-formation and, in that settin
the formation of nationally-organized “societies” – are continually shaped a
in turn continually shape the deepening and expanding world-scale division a
integration of production. Nevertheless, however much they may reinforce
another in certain times or at certain places, these two broad organizing tenden
cies – that of integrating production on a world-scale and that of forming stron
national states – are in principle deeply contradictory. One might say: what
states try to unify, the world-economy tears asunder. And the ever-pres
tension or antinomy between them is one of the perspective’s basic, orient
There is a third fundamental aspect to the modern w
to the specifically “economic” aspect (division of lab
“political” aspect (formation of states). That is the b
which needs to be mentioned, even though little is sy
it as an integral aspect of world-historical development.
contains, as it were, a multiplicity of interrelated states
multiplicity of interrelated (and here, often overlapping
language communities, religious communities, ethnic com
groups, class communities, scientific communities,
existent communities were incorporated and reconsti
entirely new communities were formed, including w
in this proposal focus specifically on this aspect of the w
because so much preliminary conceptual work needs
same time, the formation and disintegration of cultural
fundamental set of processes in their own right, a th
dency distinct from the other two; accordingly, the l
necessarily touches at many points on this basic dim
II. The Present Status of World-System Studies
As various scholars have begun elaborating and using the perspective, a broad-
ly common vocabulary for the main organizing concepts has emerged. Few of
the ideas are in themselves new, but to some extent they are used in new ways
and with new interconnections. We group them here under four headings,
Division of labor, State-system, Cyclical rhythms, and Secular trends.
A. Division of labor
The general concept is of course basic to all theories of social change, in one
version or another, and is central to modern anthropology, economics, and
sociology. It is thus all the more remarkable that so little serious work has been
done in recent years on the processes (not merely the conditions) the concept
includes and the term designates.
Following Smith’s reliance on it (Wealth of Nations, 1776), and Marx’s indispensable distinction between the division of labor in society and the division of
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labor in the workshop (Capi
process (Industrial Evolution
technical division of labor a
Bûcher’s work (which Webe
ficatory scheme, eliminating
even the underlying genetic c
It presumed the development
ing them directly: the existin
classified there (in the U.S., i
for a very simple reason: it
relational character of prod
distribution. Who has what at
the continuous film of who g
reflected in the matrix cell
referred to processes within
point: “. . . the division of l
already constituted society.”
continually reproduce, and
duction. In the modern wor
In particular, world-scale
ing of the processes, such
the hinterlands of these cent
from or to them and locating
relations.) On
integrate the
a world-scale, t
The pair of opposites, core
used in its current connotat
days of the United Nations
* E.g., United Nations, The Economic Development of Latin America and Its P
York, 1950); Raul Prebisch, “Commercial Policy in the Underdeveloped Countri
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 115
focus of their work was on the deteriorating “terms of trade” for agricultu
and mineral products in relation to manufactured products in international com
merce, and the terms were used to designate the two major kinds of participant
in that commerce, the exporters of manufactures (the industrialized countries o
the North Atlantic plus Japan) forming the “center” and the exporters of ag
cultural and extractive products (the rest of the non-Communist world) formin
the “periphery”.3 These two poles were taken as given for the period und
review, and attention was focused on a particular mechanism (the formulation o
which, however, partially anticipated Emmanuel’s analysis of “unequal
hange,” discussed shortly), whose operation accounted for the deterioratin
terms. The presence of this mechanism contradicted a basic assumption of
prevalent Ricardian “theory of international trade” and therefore was said
explain why what should have been happening theoretically was not in fa
happening historically. The conception thus provided a stable framework fo
process which, not unlike Myrdal’s “principle of circulur and cumulative cau
tion” or, even, Nurkse’s “vicious circle of poverty,” showed how the world-s
regional division of labor, once established, was maintained.4
But the analysis was not directed at the processes of division of labor through
which the respective patterns of export-specialization had formed initially,
been deepened as the world-system developed, and had both anchored and be
anchored by the social structures and state-formations in which they were
cated. It was essentially those who later became known as the. “dependenc
theorists (again, primarily students of Latin American conditions and histor
who, drawing on Baran’s work, introduced “the long view” into the co
periphery conception and converted it from being a given condition at a particu
lar time into a “constant” feature in the historical development of capitalis
and, in particular, of the capitalist world-economy.5 The central theoreti
theme in their studies was (in A. G. Frank’s phrase) “the development of und
development.” In this view “economic backwardness” was not at all a matter
starting late but was instead itself a condition produced in the course of and
the result of the rise of capitalism. The core-periphery conception thus ser
these writers primarily as the setting, albeit a highly dynamic one, for analyses
trends, patterns, events, and conditions in countries of the periphery.
In the world-system perspective, the core-periphery relation as such is its
Review Papers and Proceedings, May 1959; Werner Baer, “The Economics of Prebisch and ECLA,”
nomic Development and Cultural Change, January 1962.
The logic of this position is pursued by S. J. Patel, “Depressed Exporters: The Hard Core o
Development Problems,” Economia Internazionale , XXIV, 3-4, Aug.-Nov. 1971, 543-559; cf. howe
Jagdish Bhagwati, “A Skeptical Note on the Adverse Secular Trend in the Terms of Trade of Un
developed Countries,” Pakistan Economic Journal, X, 4, Dec. 1960, 1-11.
4* Ragnar Nurske, Problems of Capital Formation in Underdeveloped Countries (Oxford, 195
Gunnar Myrdal, Development and Underdevelopment: A Note on the Mechanism of National and Int
national Economic Inequality (Cairo, 1956).
The writings are manifold. Paul Baran’s influential work is The Political Economy of Growth (N
York: Monthly Review Press, 1957). Later books include the various writings of Samir Amin, F
Cardoso, Theotonio dos Santos, André Gunder Frank, Tamas Szentes.
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centred, designating as it doe
and bounding the world soci
Core-cum-periphery and per
in relation to one another, b
eral processes are constantly
velopment (for systematic
world-economy. It was not
tended throughout the globe
world (globe) were not a par
hence subject, as it were,
“peripheralization”. It is true

from the core – is incident
periphery division of labor
processes, not among particu
As with any relational conc
strata formed by the relatio
between its end-points, as i
making them) may also serv
countries, colonies,
“in” the periphery
“semiperipheral status”, or vi
tions are virtually indispens
quency distributions of char
sectionally, or sequences of s
studies of natural societies.
2) Semiperiphery
We briefly discuss this relational category separately because although obviously derivative from the core-periphery conception, and hence quite secure in
its logical status, it forms an element of a still rather debatable thesis that there
exists a third category, structually distinct from core and periphery. It was noted
by historians of colonial rule that in the establishment and extension of colonies,
an imperial power often made use of one local group to help it rule over other
local peoples, a relational development that lent itself to the label, “sub-imperial-
ism.”6 Looking at the world-economy as a whole, some states are clearly
“in-between” in the core-periphery structure, in that they house within their
borders (in adjacent but often unrelated sectors) both peripheral processes in
relation to core states and core-like processes in relation to adjacent peripheral
states.7 There has been some discussion of the systemic reasons why such a third
E.g., A. D.. Roberts, “The Sub-imperialism of the Baganda,” Journal of African History, III, 3, 1962,
* See Ruy Mauro Marini, Sub de sar olio y revolution (Mexico: Siglo XXI, 5th rev. éd., 1974).
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 117
category should exist. The argument is that it is a necessary feature (for b
economic and political reasons) of a basically triadic world-scale division of labo
among, now, core states, semiperipheral states, and peripheral areas.8
3) Unequal exchange
The core-semiperiphery-periphery conception is, within itself, indifferent t
the particular arrangements through which the various partial production proc
ses are continuously integrated into a single world social system or world so
economy. The integration may be effected by colonial trade monopolies (suc
The East India Company), by transactions internal to contemporary mult
national corporations, by a world-scale market mediated through one or m
commodity-exchanges, or bi- or multi-lateral barterlike agreements among stat
and so forth. What is central to the conception is the fact of unequal excha
operating through a set of mechanisms (which can apparently operate through
wide variety of arrangements or forms), that continually reproduces the b
core-periphery division of labor itself – despite massive changes over the centu
ries in the actual organization of production processes and continual shifts in t
areas and processes constituting the core, semiperiphery, and periphery.
Among those sharing the world-system perspective, the nature of this set of
mechanisms is a matter of considerable ongoing debate9 (as is all of their form
lations with those who find the perspective anathema).10 Imperial-coloni
political relations, through which core-state agencies regulate, among oth
things, labor, production processes, intermediate and final markets for import
and export activities of peripheral areas, are held by some to be fundamen
although this leaves the mechanism itself somewhat unspecified. In ECLA
studies, which focus on a long-term deterioration in the terms of trade
primary products (in relation to secondary products), the mechanism is seen
work through the distribution of gains from technical progress (increases
productivity): in core states, for various reasons, these gains usually result
higher wages rather than in lower prices, while in peripheral areas the oppo
holds. Core populations thus benefit from technical progress in the periphe
through the lowered prices for the latter’s commodities, whereas periph
populations suffer from technical progress in the core, in virtue of the relativ
increase in the real prices they must pay for the core’s commodities. Emma
inverts the ECLA formulation by arguing that the divergence in wage-level
well-being between core and peripheral populations proceeds apace, indepen
See I. Wallerstein, “Semi-peripheral Countries and the Contemporary World Crisis,” Theory an
Society, III, 4, Winter 1976, 461-484.
The original formulation is in Arghiri Emmanuel, Unequal Exchange (New York: Monthly Rev
Press, 1972). For the continuing debate, see among others Oscar Braun, Comercio international e imp
ismo (Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI, 1973); Samir Amin, L’échange inégal et la loi de la valeur (Paris:
Anthropos – IDEP, 1973); E. Somaini, A. Emmanuel, L. Boggio & M. Salvati, Salari, sottosvilu
imperialismo (Torino: Giulio Einaudi Ed., 1973).
See Paul Samuelson, “Trade- Pattern Reversals in Time-Phased Ricardian Systems and Internati
Efficiency,” Journal of International Economics, V, 4, 1975, 309-365; for a reply by Arghiri Emman
see “Gains and Losses from the International Division of Labor,” Review, I, 2, Fall 1977.
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ently of gains from technic
much the continual resultan
nent. Amin, elaborating on E
wage-levels and well-being to
labor process, and through t
grated but oppositely develop
The accumulation process (t
the more complex and tende
study in the social sciences.
where in this part of the pro
the world-system perspective
Here, then, we have to adapt
and sketch very briefly the f
spread over an ever-widening
increasingly interdependent –
conception of capitalist deve
system perspective, holds th
piece, although operating of
vidual “capitals” (to use an o
having consisted of a set of
“world” market.
Probably the most important single text here, Marx’s Capital, shows as well as
anything how much of an issue this is, since it lends itself to each kind of
reading, i.e., as depicting a theory of the accumulation process as a world-system
process* in which key points are illustrated by lengthy asides on events or condi-
tions in Britain; and as depicting it as a set of discrete, historically successive
processes, each fundamentally similar in kind to the others and related to them
genetically, as it were, but centered in a different national unit, the first of
which was Britain. We prefer the first reading of course, and more generally the
first view of capitalist development in Europe, but frame a number of the
orienting hypotheses below in such a way as to direct the proposed program of
research towards collecting and analyzing the kinds of information that will
open up, and by design help resolve, some of the more specific, empirically
answerable questions here.
A second issue concerns the unity of the process over core and periphery.
Here, capitalist development in Europe is assumed, whether in the form of
several national capitalisms or in that of a Europe-wide capitalism, and the
question centers on the role which activities in parts of the world geographically
distant from Europe played in capitalism’s development there. Again, the world-
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 119
system perspective holds that the accumulation process was and is of a piece,
operating throughout the system, in the periphery as well as in the core, an
indeed reshaping each, relocating kinds of productive activities, and continual
joining as it continually divides them. The other view, much the more commo
of the two at least until very recently, is that the capitalist accumulation process
operates only through the industrial capital/wage-labor relation; that whateve
the occasional incidence of this relation of production elsewhere, it emerged as a
“self-expanding” system of production and accumulation (capitalism) only i
Europe (later, North America, Japan); and that plunder and the like from else
where in the world were akin to the same in Europe, essentially pre-capitalis
“primitive accumulation” which was historically the grounds for capitalist de
velopment but not integral to it. The “wealth” contributed to Europe (by the
mining operations in the Americas, the slave-trade and slavery in the sugar and
tobacco belts, piracy, the Indian Ocean trade, etc.) is not questioned, but this
“wealth” is seen as different from “capital,” and not specifically integral to th
development of the capitalist system. Again, a seminal author’s writings may be
cited here in lieu of far lengthier lists: Weber’s General Economic History seems
pretty clearly to reflect the second view, while short theoretical sketches sca
tered throughout Economy and Society clearly pre-figure the first.
The third issue concerns the theoretical (not empirical) significance of geo
political expansion for the accumulation process. In world-system terms this
described as the conversion of areas of the globe that had been “external” to the
system into peripheral (in some instances, semiperipheral) areas of the system
This issue entails considering the cyclical character of “crises” and the patterning
of the secular trends tracing capitalism’s development, which we will take u
shortly. The theoretical question is whether capitalist development could con
ceivably have continued in the core areas were it not for the continual expansion
of the peripheries of the system.
Most contemporaries working from and on the world-system perspective think
of the patterns of geo-political expansion as theoretically integral to the accumu-
lation process, although most of the necessary theoretical work remains to b
done. The question becomes whether so-called “primitive accumulation” proces
ses are only historical pre-conditions of capitalist development, or ongoing
essential features of it (however modified their institutional forms).1 1
B. State-system
The view that the nation-states which have developed within the capitalist
world-economy are part of an international state-system is not merely central to
international relations as an academic subfield, but is central to international law
as it is preached, and even practiced, in the political arena.12 Furthermore, it
widely posited that the “competitive character of the state system of moder
See A. G. Frank, “Sur l’accumulation qu’on appelle primitive,” L’homme et la société, Nos. 39-40,
janv.-juin 1976, 45-75. This is an issue first debated circa World War I. See R. Luxemburg, The Accum
lation of Capital – an Anti-Critique & N. Bukharin, Imperialism and Accumulation of Capital (New Yor
Monthly Review Press, 1972).
12t See Philip C. Jessup, A Modern Law of Nations (New York: Macmillan, 1949).
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Europe . . . distinguishes it
European civilizations of the
1) Patterns of domination: imperialism
The reality of imperium is as old as recorded history. The term itself derives
from Roman usage. What might be called its neo-Roman usage derives from its
association in the mid-nineteenth century with Napoleon III.15 Its contemporary usage, as a phenomenon particular to the capitalist world-economy is derived from Hobson and Lenin.16 Hobson and Lenin both saw it as a “stage” of
capitalism, the motor cause being the need to export capital, and the primary
manifestation being the establishment of colonial rule in peripheral areas.
In recent years, the assumption that imperialism is a phenomenon only descriptive of a particular epoch of the capitalist world-economy and specifically
linked to colonialism has been challenged by two new terms referring to different epochs but describing similar phenomena.
On the one hand, observing the “decolonization” of Asia and Africa after
World War II, many persons – both politicians and scholars – have been moved
to argue that the end of direct colonial rule has not meant the end of imperialism. They have used the locution of “neo-colonialism” to describe the continuing ability of core states to interfere politically in the economic activities of
peripheral states.1 7
On the other hand, scholars concerned with the ways in which core states
(particularly Great Britain) related to peripheral areas, particularly in the nineteenth century prior to the Scramble for Africa, have noted that imperial interests were best pursued without the imposition of direct colonial rule. They have
termed this phenomenon “informal empire.”1 8
13# Walter L. Dorn, Competition for Empire, 1740-1763 (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1963), 1.
The references are limited to Europe because Dorn is talking of the eighteenth century. Today, it is true of
the entire globe.
See Charles Tilly, éd., The Formation of National States in Western Europe (Princeton: Pirnceton
University Press, 1975), passim. See also the many writings of Stein Rokkan.
# This is traced in detail in Richard Koebner and Helmut Dan Schmidt, Imperialism: The Story and
Significance of a Political Word, 1840-1960 (Cambridge: University Press, 1964).
J. A. Hobson, Imperialism: A Study (originally published 1902); V. I. Lenin, Imperialism: The
Highest Stage of Capitalism (originally published 1916).
A typical argument is to be found in Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of
Imperialism (New York: International Publishers, 1965).
The term was first used by C. R. Fay in 1940. But it was given wide currency in the article by John
Gallagher &: Ronald Robinson, “The Imperialism of Free Trade,” Economic History Review, VI, 1, 1953.
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 121
If we use the term “imperialism” to refer to any use of political power by
stronger state (usually a core state) against a weaker state (usually a peripheral or
semiperipheral state) intended to alter allocations in the world market, eithe
directly or indirectly, then it is easy to maintain that this is a constant of th
inter-state system as it has operated within the capitalist world-economy. W
could then view “informal empire” and “colonialism” as cyclical alternatives i
the form of imperialism.
2) Hegemony /rivalry
All interstate conflict does not occur between states at far ends of the con-
tinuum of relative state power. It has also been a central observation of diplomats and political scientists that there is a “balance of power” in the world
state-system. The “balance of power” has normally referred to the relationships
among relatively strong states. It has been though that the interstate system
tends towards relative equilibrium over time.
However, as has often been noted, there are two distinct ways of achieving
this equilibrium. One is the creation of two sets of alliances in a field of multiple
“strong” states, such that neither set is overwhelmingly stronger than the other.
This results in a state of armed truce (today we call it “cold war”) which breaks
down from time to time into “world wars”.19
The second mode by which equilibrium has been reached has been through
the relative superiority of one core power over other core powers, such that no
second power or combination of second powers seems capable of challenging
effectively the economic supremacy of the strongest core power. This latter
situation is called hegemony.
Hegemony is distinguished from imperium in that it operates primarily
through the market – but certainly not exclusively, since there are always po-
litico-military and cultural components. A capitalist world-economy is specifically distinguished from a world-empire by the absence of imperium.20 Nonetheless, it is argued that temporary hegemony not only is possible but has occurred,
in the sense of simultaneous productive, commercial, and financial pre-eminence
of one core power over other core powers.
3) Bourgeoisie-proletariat
This pair of concepts have been central to social science literature since the
French Revolution and scarcely needs to be elaborated here.
Within a world-system perspective, two issues may be raised. One issue is the
degree to which this conflictual dyad is seen to operate only within state boundaries, or by alliance across state boundaries. This is the traditional assumption. In
recent years however some scholars have sought to make the case that one of the
19# While it was not until the twentieth century that the term “world war” was coined, today scholars
note that it was the Thirty Years War in which for the first time “the entire continent was divided into two
warring camps. . . .” J. V. Polisensky, The Thirty Years War (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1971), 257.
^0# See I. Wallerstein, “The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System: Concepts for
Comparative Analysis,” Comparative Studies in Society and History , XVI, 4, Sept. 1974, 387-415.
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primary manifestations of thi
of “proletarian nations” and ”
A second, even more fundam
degree to which it is legitim
proletariat to property right
world’s population could be s
been raised as to whether wage
among a variety of forms co-e
are primarily located, not inci
preneur is not merely one for
most common or important va
C. Cyclical rhythms
That capitalism operates in c
tested generalizations in the
as a conventional speciality “b
Short cycles are usually see
supply-demand vectors in the
in principle, but potentially
Longer-term cycles, commonly known as Kondratieff cycles, are more contro-
versial. They were first formulated in the 1920’s by N. D. Kondratieff,22 received a wide scholarly hearing during the 1930’s,23 and then remained largely
undiscussed24 until the late 1960’s when the economic difficulties of the core
countries (the balance of payments difficulties, the currency negotiations, the
energy “crisis,” stagflation, and a distinct rise in unemployment) led to a resuscitation of interest in these cycles of 40 to 50 years in length.25 Nevertheless, the
very reality of the cycles, and certainly the motor of their movements, has
remained a matter of debate.
At the same time that Kondratieff was formulating his cycles, measured es21
” The first major work stressing this theme was probably Pierre Moussa, Les nations prolétaires (Paris:
Presses Univ. de France, 1959).
* Kondratieff s article appeared first in Russian, then in German in the 1920’s. It was translated into
English as “The Long Waves in Economic Life,” Review of Economic Statistics, XVII, 6, Nov. 1935,
105-115. The early Russian debate is summarized in G. Garvey, “Kondratieff s Theory of Long Cycles,”
Review of Economic Statistics, XXV, 6, Nov. 1943, 203-220.
Probably the most influential work, certainly the most extensive, was Joseph Schumpeter, Business
Cycles, 2 vol. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1939).
‘ This must be qualified. There were some synthetic works: Alvin H. Hansen and R. V. Clémence,
eds., Readings in Business Cycles and National Income (New York: Norton, 1953); Leon H. Dupriez, Des
mouvements économiques généraux, 2 vol. (Louvain: I.R.E.S. de l’Univ. de Louvain, 1947); Gaston Imbert,
Des mouvements de longue durée Kondratieff (Aix-en-Provence: La Pensée Universitaire, 1959). Imbert
reproduces a long bibliography on pp. 501-517.
See among others W. W. Rostow, “The Developing World in the Fifth Kondratieff Upswing,”
Annals of the A.A.P.S.S., No. 420, July 1975, 111-124.
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 123
sentially for the nineteenth century (up to World War I), the European pr
historians were collecting data on price (and to some extent real wage) fluc
ations in various parts of Europe from the High Middle Ages to the end of
eighteenth century.26 By the 1930’s, a number of studies noted the very lo
term cyclical quality of the data uncovered.27
Somewhat separately from the activity of the price historians, Francoi
Simiand was formulating theoretically the concept of A and B phases of (wo
economic activity.28 It was easy to mark out the upswings and downswings
the Kondratieff cycles as A and B phases. (It was also possible to do this f
somewhat shorter phases, dubbed by Ernest Labrousse “inter-cycles.”29 Ind
it was Labrousse who brought about a systematic link between Simiand’s th
rizing and the empirical research of the price historians.) The harder quest
was whether there existed longer-term cycles of 150-300 years in length,
suggested by the then conventional imagery of a “price revolution” in th
“long” sixteenth century, and a recession or “depression” in the seventeen
We will take this concept of long-term cycles – at least Kondratieffs in length,
perhaps Kondratieffs placed within still longer A and B phases – and argue that
they are not merely descriptive of historical reality, but constitute a fundamental parameter of the functioning of the world-economy. It is these cyclical
movements that not only account for the locational shifts which occur within
the structure of the world-economy, but also provide the basic dynamic which
results in the secular trends of the social economy as a whole.
D. Basic Directions: Secular Trends
The perspective we are sketching here is of a system of social action that not
only is comprehensive and singular in scope, forming a spatial “world” within its
expanding, geo-political boundaries, but is also comprehensive and singular in
time, forming a temporal “world” as well over the course of its deepening
See the summary of this date in F. P. Braudel & F. Spooner, “Prices in Europe from 1450 to
1750,” in E. E. Rich & C. H. Wilson, eds., The Economy of Expanding Europe in the Sixteenth and
Seventeenth Centuries, Vol. IV of The Cambridge Economic History of Europe (Cambridge: University
Press, 1967), 374-486.
See Marie Kerhuel, Les mouvements de longue durée des prix (Rennes: thèse pour le doctorat en
droit, juillet 1935); Jenny Griziotti-Kretschman, Ilproblema del trend sec o lare nette fluttuazioni dei prezzi
(Pavia: Publ. délia R. Università di Pavia, 1935). See also an earlier article: C. Bresciani-Turroni, “Movimenti di lungha durata dello sconto e dei prezzi,” Giornale degli Economiste II, 1917, 1-11.
See F. Simaind, Les fluctuations économiques à longue période et la crise mondiale (Paris: Alcan,
See C.-E. Labrousse, Esquisse du mouvement des prix et des revenus en France au X Ville siècle
(Paris: Lib. Dalloz, 1932), 2 vol.
Specific calculations over seven centuries were made by B. H. Slicher van Bath, The Agrarian
History of Western Europe, A.D. 500-1850 (New York: St. Martins, 1963); cf. the numerous works of
Pierre Chaunu. See also the long editor’s introduction by Ruggiero Romano in I prezzi in Europa dal XIII
secolo a oggi (Torino: Einaudi Ed., 1967).
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rhythms of
This is not
expansion and cont
a concept that is
an integral dimension of the
pendently-given, ordering d
observations bearing on the
system, however, cannot be
“started” and then “timed” over the course it ran and continues to run. As we
conceive it, it does not function so much over time as through time. Time in the
form of its trends and cycles is constitutive of it as a system, not merely a
coordinate of the variations of its properties. It does not “have” a history or
set of histories so much as it constitutes a history or set of histories.
That much said, we must nevertheless of course make use of time-ordering
notions (years, decades, centuries, etc.) to portray and track the constitutive
temporal movements of the system. Even if we worked with alternative frames,
we would have to use the conventional time-scales to convey the sense of our
novel ones. But we do not, and the possible difficulty does not exist. What we
mean is that the world-system, as we understand it, does not first exist and then
move or develop (as a racing car does), but that its development is its existence
It “stagnates” in growth; it doesn’t stagnate and then grow (although we may
sometimes lapse into speaking as though it did).
In short, the “development” of which the developmentalists speak only has
meaning as the defining essence of the capitalist world-economy as a whole. The
capitalist world-economy has a “natural history” in a way that no state structure
does. It came into existence under specific historical circumstances;31 it mani-
fests specific long-term secular trends; it will most likely one day have a demise.
Neither transition at the historical “end-points” of the natural history of this
world-system is our immediate focus. Rather we are concerned with drawing out
the structurally-determined trends which may be said to be its “development”
(as distinct from its continuing relational patterns and its cyclical rhythms).
There are at least three such secular trends on which there is general agreement.
1) Expansion
This concept is so central to the historical development of the capitalist
world-economy that it may be said to have been the only one noticed conscious-
ly by the actors from the very beginning. Late medieval “expansion” into new
land areas (whether the German colonization of eastern Europe or the Christian
“Reconquista” of Spain) was soon joined by “exploration” and expansion
“overseas” at the very beginnings of the modern world-system.
Of course, “expansion” Was already a familiar social concept, in that worldempires had long practiced expansion at the limes of their jurisdiction. What was
different about capitalist expansion was not the phenomenon of long-distance
trade with “external arenas,” something which had been throughout history the
staple form of all exchange that was more than “local”. What was different was
* This is the classic debate about the nature of the “transition from feudalism to capitalism.*’ See
Marx, Weber, Dobb vs. Sweezy, etc.
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 125
that world-empires had joined their “edges” to the center by the collection
tribute, otherwise leaving relatively intact the production systems over wh
they had “suzerainty,” whereas the capitalist world-economy “peripheraliz
areas economically by incorporating them into the division of labor.
The origins of the capitalist world-economy were in Europe (including fr
the outset parts of the Americas). Sporadically but in systematic rhythm,
world-economy expanded geographically to include ever-new regions at its edge
until, by the early twentieth century, it had reached the limits of exist
possibilities: it covered the globe. There are doubtless main “moments” of s
outer expansion (1450-1520, 1620-1660, 1750-1815, 1880-1900), although th
process was in many ways continuous. The expansions are clearly linked w
the processes of the state-system already discussed.
At the same time, the literature on agricultural history has indicated a c
pattern over time of “inner” expansion, in the sense that not all the area
physically located inside the outer boundaries of the world-economy had ne
sarily been from the outset involved in the social economy. There were “sub
tence redoubts”. It is clear that, as a process, the incorporation of areas at
outer edges and areas that were redoubts inside was essentially the same ph
menon economically, even if it had a different definition juridically and perha
different prerequisites politically. Whereas “outer” expansion has undoubt
reached its limits, it may be that “inner” expansion has still some small distanc
to go.
2) Commodification
The transformation of land, labor, and natural resources from phenomena
utilized and distributed in terms of social conventions of limited flexibility into
commodities available for “purchase” on a “market” has been used virtually as
the defining characteristic of capitalism in the literature of the social sciences. It
has also been the focus of the anathema of its social critics whether radical
(Marx denouncing “the fetishism of commodities”) or conservative (Carlyle
denouncing the “cash nexus”).
The two primary phenomena that have been “commodified” have of course
been land and labor. Price mechanisms balancing supply and demand have progressively displaced other social arrangements to bring together these so-called
“factors of production,” and to distribute the results of this production. It was
this fact or process that was to a large extent the organizing focus of classical
political economy. The continuing process of “development” of the world-
economy has demonstrated, moreover, that more than land and labor was
subject to commodification: the resources of the earth to be sure, but also such
less tangible phenomena as risk, time, natural beauty. The consequences of these
processes for our psychologies, our cultures, and our cosmologies have become
the subject of another whole literature that can be summoned to mind around
the term “alienation”.
Still, from the point of view of the material processes, the two fundamental
processes remained the “commercialization” of land and the “proletarianization” of labor. Once again, the world-system perspective calls on very familiar
concepts here, while insisting that the world-wide process of transformation is
what is to be seen as the essence of capitalism. Neither alienable land nor
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wage-labor define the capita
sures to alienate more land a
sarily means that, at all poi
“free”) direct producers has b
It is to be noted that this is
by that very fact, undermine
This is however to be expecte
having a natural history.
The two non-political “rev
modern world are the “indu
revolution.” When Arnold To
“industrial revolution” he was
important or fundamental t
tion, and that this something
with a large percentage of f
“scientific-technological” rev
the human possibility of the
Once again, we accept the b
al” focus and its dichotomo
cultural) activity. Rather, w
mechanization of all productiv
the very least open to quest
social caesura at the moment of the so-called “Industrial Revolution” in the late
eighteenth century. There have been a plethora of works in recent years speaking
of “earlier” industrial revolutions.32 We also speak of “later” ones. It may well
be that the whole process is one of steady increments throughout the history of
the capitalist world-economy as a whole.
The crucial issues are two: (1) the impact on the capital/labor relationship of
the growing ratio of fixed to variable capital; (2) the ways in which the continual
further mechanization of productive processes is linked to the continual redefini-
tion of “core”-type productive activities and the continual relocation of core,
semiperipheral, and peripheral zones.
III. Some Hypotheses About the Modern World-System as a System
A general paradigm of world-system studies has been elaborated in recent
years, at least in a preliminary fashion. The development of some of the primary
conceptual tools has been undertaken. The paradigm has already been applied to
concrete historical cases as an interpretative schema. What is needed now, in
order to pursue further work involving this paradigm, is to clarify a set of
It was John U. Nef who launched this theme. See the various essays in The Conquest of the Material
World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964).
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 127
working hypotheses about the operations of the modern world-system as
system; and then to test the plausibility of these hypotheses by a look at empir
cal data.
This latter task is less obvious than it sounds since it is not clear that the
relevant data-bases exist – in any case exist sufficiently. This is because
data have been collected historically by state structures and by scholar
assumed the state as the logical entity to which to extrapolate “local” fin
and therefore many of the phenomena we will want to observe are not caugh
in existing collections of data. We will consequently, for many of our hy
eses, have to invent appropriate measuring instruments and create relevant d
The objective of this research program is to take a world-system paradigm, to
translate it into a series of clear hypotheses which are expectations about the
historical course of the capitalist world-economy, its large-scale continuities and
transformations overtime, and to test these hypotheses by means of measures
which we will have to design and by using data we will have both to collect and
to create.
Within the world-system perspective on the capitalist world-economy
organize our hypotheses around three continuing antinomies of the sys
(a) Economy/polity. The economy is primarily a “world” structure,
activity takes place primarily within and through state-structures who
aries are narrower than those of the economy.
(b) Supply/demand. World supply is primarily a function of mark
“individual” production decisions. World demand is primarily a fu
“socially”-determined allocations of income.
(c) Capital/labor. Capital is accumulated by appropriating surplus p
labor, but the more capital is accumulated, the less the role of labor
(a) Economy /polity
Because of the structure of the capitalist world-economy (one eco
multiple states), there are not one but two sets of conflicting rel
(1) the economic core regions in relation to the economic periphe
(2) the dominant states in relation to the dominated states. These tw
nomies relate to each other and tend to correlate with each other, b
not identical, and it would be well to analyze each subantimony s
This is of course scarcely novel. Traditionally, the two subantimonies h
ever been considered the domains of two separate specialists: econom
ested in international trade; and political scientists interested in in
relations (or historians interested in diplomatic history). We shall howe
on the intimate theoretical linkage (and not merely pragmatic linka
two subantinomies.
To talk of a division of labor within the world-system implies that the various
geographical areas which compose it are specialized in specific productive tasks.
The nature of the specific tasks varies over time, but it is always true that these
tasks do not receive the same economic rewards. In the world-economy, complementarity goes along with inequality. The world-system may therefore be conceived of as an entity differentiated according to the distribution of productive
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The nature of the productive specialization has changed over historical time.
Nonetheless, whatever the products involved, the core has always specialized in
comparatively highly-mechanized, high-profit, high-wage, highly-skilled labor
activities (originally virtually all transformation industries) against the peripheral
comparative opposite (originally largely agricultural and mining activities). The
semiperiphery has shown a mix of core and peripheral activities, trading ex-
ternally in two different directions.
(1) Our basic assumption in the analysis of core-peripheral relations is that
the concept of international trade is fundamentally misleading. We start by
distinguishing between purely “local” markets (a maximum of a one-day radius
by slow transport) and all wider markets, whether or not the wider transaction
crosses a political boundary. We shall argue that all these “wider” transactions
are part of, and constrained by, something one can call a “world” market.
The traditional literature of course recognizes the distinction between local
and wider markets. However, most authors subdivide the “wider” markets – at
the very least into national markets on the one hand, and the international
market on the other. (Some would add “regional” markets, the “region” some-
times being smaller than the state, if a large state, and sometimes being inclusive
of several states.) Obviously, at a certain level of analysis, this may be a meaning-
ful taxonomy. What we reject is the implied sequential development: first
national markets, then expanded foreign trade geared to an international market.
Instead, we start with a radically different presumption. Let us conceive of
something we shall call, for want of a better conventional term, “commodity
chains”. What we mean by such chains is the following: take an ultimate consumable item and trace back the set of inputs that culminated in this item – the
prior transformations, the raw materials, the transportation mechanisms, the
labor input into each of the material processes, the food inputs into the labor.
This linked set of processes we call a commodity chain. If the ultimate consuma-
ble were, say, clothing, the chain would include the manufacture of the cloth,
the yarn, etc., the cultivation of the cotton, as well as the reproduction of the
labor forces involved in these productive activities.
We could quantify these chains in various ways. We might measure the
number of such chains, perhaps counting each ultimate consumable item as one
unit. We might measure their physical volume. We might measure their total
value (in one of the many ways of calculating value). We might assign them
weights of “criticality” in terms of the operation of the world-economy. Or we
might combine various measures. For the moment, we leave this measurement
problem, which is however more conceptual than technical, to the side.
We note that such commodity chains have existed throughout the history of
the capitalist world-economy. The “traditional” assumption is that such commodity chains developed first of all within the boundaries of states and later
began to cross state frontiers. Some would even see this as a linear trend – the
so-called steady “internationalization” of capital. Our basic thesis is the opposite. However one measures these commodity chains, we claim the following:
(la) As many (if not more) of these commodity chains cross state boundaries
as stay within any set of state boundaries.
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 129
(lb) There is probably no significant difference in this regard between 150
and 1975, (i.e., there is no linear trend to “internationalization”, since t
situation was highly “internationalized” from the outset).
(lc) There do exist exceptions to (la) for particular times and places, (i.e.,
the existence of a concentration of commodity chains relatively within stat
boundaries, or “mercantilist withdrawal,”) but such exceptions are:
(Ici) temporary in time, and are never descriptive of all areas of the worl
economy simultaneously;
(Ic2) associated with particular varieties of states (“weak core” or “semiperipheral” states);
(Ic3) associated with particular moments in the cyclical patterns (t
moments that combine the absence of political “hegemony” and the presence
economic “contraction”).
(2) States often include within their boundaries more than one kind
economic zone. Nonetheless, we may characterize states as being primarily co
semiperipheral, or peripheral, in the sense that the state’s political structu
tend to be determined by the needs of the predominant zones. (It should
noted that peripheral states tend to be more economically homogeneous in t
sense than core states.)
The kinds of economic activities that predominate within given states va
over time – sometimes because of changes in political boundaries, but mor
frequently because of deliberate state (and state-based private) activity occurrin
at particular turning-points in the cyclical patterns of the world-economy. In t
sense, and by analogy, states may be said to have “mobility”, both upward a
downward. Upward mobility is frequently termed “development”, but in
world-system perspective, the latter term probably can only meaningfully refe
to the system as a whole, and not to particular states. One of the central iss
then is how the overall development of the world-system (measured say in some
calculation of the volume or value of the productive equipment or of good
produced, the degree of mechanization, etc.) in fact related to the balance
between different economic “strata” of the system and their relative “we
(2a) If then we classified either states or “regions” as core, semiperipheral, or
peripheral, and measured their distribution over time, whatever the quantum
measured, we argue that the relative importance of each stratum remains more
or less constant through the history of the capitalist world-economy (say 1500
to 1975), since the system as a whole creates pressures to maintain a certain mix
of core, semiperipheral, and peripheral activities.
State machineries affect the distribution of economic tasks by “interfering” in
the natural flow of the world market mechanism – to create or destroy monopolies, to subsidize or render more expensive productive activities, to destroy or
protect produced goods. It follows that the strength of state machineries (meaning their ability to make policies prevail against internal resistance and external
opposition) is a key variable in the process of cyclical change of function in the
world-economy. (By strength of state machinery, we do not mean either the
arbitrariness of the power of the leadership or the extent of bureaucratization,
but the efficacy of decision-making, however achieved.)
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(2b) The strength of state-m
degree of “coreness” of the st
When new states or regions
economy because of the lat
peripheral roles (or semiper
(2b 1) The incorporation of new areas into the world-economy as “states” or
“colonies” of areas that were political units prior to this point normally involves
a diminution of the strength of their political machineries.
Variations can also be observed within the center of the world-system. There
are two essential patterns. Either one state at the center is dominant in relation
to other core states in terms of performance in all the main economic sectors
(production, commerce, and finance); or none is clearly dominant. We describe
the first as hegemony, the second as rivalry. Supremacy in the productive field
means that the most “advanced” industrial production for a given period is
preponderantly located in the state in question, and that it is capable of exporting such production competitively to other core states, as well as to the periphery and semiperiphery. Commercial supremacy means that the value of external
and carrying trade is the highest in comparison with that of other core states,
and that its services are used by other core states. Financial supremacy means
that the value of capital being saved, lent, or exported across state boundaries is
the highest in comparison with others, and that it performs banking operations
for other core states.
Since comparative efficiencies are a fragile advantage, other core states are
constantly “pulling even” with the hegemonic state, and surpassing it. There are
two main reasons for the precariousness of hegemony. First, other core and even
semiperipheral states improve or diversify their apparatus of production in such
a way as to produce as efficiently (in some sectors at least) as the hegemonic
power, enjoying the advantage of “latecomers” of acquiring the newest machinery. The second reason is that the performance of the hegemonic power itself
deteriorates. Its costs of production are particularly vulnerable to the wage
demands of a work force that is both better organized over time, and whose
demands tend to be satisfied in the interests of the “labor peace” crucial to
exploiting the hegemonic advantage.
Such moments of hegemony have been historically rare. One can in fact make
the case clearly only for three instances: the United Provinces, 1625-1650/72;
Great Britain, 1815-1850/73; the United States, 1945-1967(?). However, because such a concentration of state power is so exceptional in the functioning of
the capitalist world-economy, it behooves us to see whether important economic
or political shifts are associated with these moments.
To explain why they are historically so rare, we must first account for the rise
to hegemony of a core power. The crucial element seems to be the acquisition of
competitive agro-industrial productive advantage in the world market following a
period of decline of former leading producers.
(2c) It is proposed that productive advantage conditions commercial advantage which in turn conditions financial advantage, each with a time lag; that the
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 131
loss of advantage occurs in the same sequence; and that the moment of overlap
consequently brief.
Where military advantage occurs in this pattern is an issue that will evidentl
come to mind. As a subproposition:
(2c 1) It is argued that military advantage occurs approximately at the sa
time as commercial advantage, hence later than productive advantage but earlie
than financial advantage, and is what is used to “lock in” hegemony.
Since hegemony involves superiority in every aspect of the market, th
primary function of the state machinery of the hegemonic power is not to cre
(artificial) “non-market” advantage but to keep the market mechanisms ope
follows that
(2d) At home, the hegemonic power practices comparative liberalism in
politics, triumphalism in culture, and preaches (perhaps more than practices)
freedom of trade in the economy; and everywhere else, the hegemonic power
uses its influence (and if need be its military strength) to break down barriers to
the flows of the world market.
Since the major barriers other core (and semiperipheral) states can erect
against the hegemonic power derive from their political domination of peripheral
zones, it follows as a subproposition that
(2dl) The hegemonic power favors “decolonization” when moving towards
hegemony; it practices “informal empire” when it is hegemonic; its loss of
hegemony tends to lead to a new wave of colonization.
If we now turn from the hegemonic power to the other core powers as well as
the semiperipheral powers, we assume that they will all have a continuing concern to limit, where they can, the advantages of the hegemonic power. This will
be particularly reinforced by a situation of world economic contraction which
renders more urgent the reallocation of productive tasks. It is argued that
(2e) Whenever a period of decline of a hegemonic power sets in, especially if
coupled with world economic downturn, other relatively strong states will
attempt to erect mercantilist barriers – around themselves (and, if possible, an
“imperial zone”).
Conversely, it follows as a subproposition that
(2el) In moments of hegemony, the economically weaker the colonial power
the more they have to lose from decolonization and the more they resist; and
(2e2) The economically stronger a peripheral political unit, the more rapidly
they will be able to achieve “decolonization”.
The combination of these tendencies enables us to describe alternating pat-
terns of world trade:
(2fl) Although more trade among core countries takes place in a hegemonic
situation than in periods of competition when tariff barriers are highest, trade is
not entirely “free” even in this period. Rather, a certain division of labor in the
production of “core” products takes place to protect the position of each core
state as a producer of “core” goods. (In concrete terms each core state will
probably end up importing only as much core-type goods as it exports.) In
periods of depression, this arrangement tends to disappear, each core state diversifying its “core”-type production, and trade between core states decreases;
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semiperipheral states from co
ities of industrial production
the converse is true of momen
(2f3) In periods of hegemony
its trade relations away fro
periods of re-emergence of c
of the periphery will tend t
“tariff zone”.
(b) Supply /defnand
If there are both cyclical rhythms and secular trends in the ongoing life of the
capitalist world-economy, a central empirical question becomes the ways in

which these two sets of “movements” correlate with one another, are linked one
with the other, react one upon the other.
The one set of movements, the cyclical rhythms, predicates an ongoing
“system” which has patterns of alternation that repeat themselves. The other set
of movements, the secular trends, predicates a system that comes into existence,
proceeds along certain pathways, and eventually will go out of existence; it
therefore has trends that transform the structure. (It might be said in passing
that quite frequently in the social sciences behind particular heated debates lie
opposing views as to whether a phenomenon or process might best be described
in the language of cyclical rhythm or secular trend.)
If there are both cyclical rhythms that repeat and secular trends that transform the structure, it would follow that the very mode of linkage between the
two would reflect a tension between repetition and change. Hence, it is asserted
(1) The process of structural transformation is increasingly tied to, and
synchronized with, clearer and clearer patterns of cyclical rhythm over the ongoing life of the capitalist world-economy.
Specifically, this probably means that
(la) Whatever cyclical patterns are to be observed, the temporal length of the
pendulum (the sum of two phases) has become reduced over time (which may
mean that nineteenth-century Kondratieffs are essentially new versions of earlier
A and B phases which had longer time-spans).
The capitalist world-economy is increasingly “integrated” over time in the
very simple sense that the market mechanisms are more coordinated in time, the
result of both social transformation and technological advance. It would follow
then that
(lb) The timing of cyclical rhythms would increasingly show itself as
synchronized between core, semiperipheral, and peripheral regions of the worldeconomy.
Nonetheless, if the cyclical rhythms are basically those of expansion and
contraction, and the secular trends are essentially linear, their contradictory
movements must combine in particular ways. Even therefore at moments defined as moments of “contraction”, the linear trends would be moving upward
on the curve. Ergo, it would follow that
(lc) The graph of combined indices of structural processes (however this be
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 133
operationally defined) should show a step-like pattern (in which the “B” pha
combining the cyclical contractions with the secular upward trends should
symbolized by a horizontal vector).
Since the structural transformations brought about the secular trends could
expected to react upon the cyclical rhythms in forcing shifts in their form
subproposition would be:
(Ici) The particular aspects of the world-economy that “stagnate” in
phases are likely to be different over the history of the modern world-sys
(reflected in particular transformations in technology and allied shifts in scale
productive operations).
The cyclical fluctuations of the rate of growth of the world-economy may b
accounted for by the periodic interruptions in the supply/demand mechani
associated with economic production and consumption. Essentially the basis
the “crisis” in capital accumulation is ultimately the discrepancy between p
duction and consumption. Assuming economic growth, the world production
capital goods to sustain that growth (continual renewal of improved fixed capit
investment) increases at a greater rate than the world production of wage-good
consumer goods, which in turn increases over the world demand. But wher
the production is undertaken by individual and competing producing units, the
goal being to maximize/optimize profits (as the device for further expansio
market demand is essentially a function of income distribution which is soc
ly /politically determined (e.g., the real wage generally remains relatively stabl
over long periods of time, itself a function of the profit-growth requirements
capital accumulation).
(2) Hence we are arguing that world-wide production of capital goods regular
ly outstrips world-wide demand from consumer goods industry, which is u
mately limited by the consuming capacity of the world-wide wage-earning gro
“Overproduction” relative to the “inadequate” market demand results, lead
to economic “crises” and contraction, as unused capacity in productive ente
prise occurs.
(2a) The periods of expansion normally involve not only a net increase
total world production levels, starting with expansion of world cash-crop p
duction of primary goods and affecting successively the various levels of trans
formation enterprises, but also a reallocation of world effective dema
effectuated by a further proletarianization of the world labor force.
Since the net increase in total world production requires further investment
cash-crop production and the further proletarianization of world labor requ
further concentration of population, it follows as a subproposition that
(2al) Periods of expansion involve increases in the level of investment flo
outward from the core whereas they involve increases in the level of work-for
migration inward from the peripheral areas.
Because however of the continued interlink between cyclical rhythms
secular trends, there is not a simple and abrupt shift from overall expansio
overall stagnation periods. The first signs of crisis of demand occur only in som
areas or spheres of activity, to which producers respond by the increase
individual production and the effort to reduce cost of production. Hence
would follow that
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(2b) Between “expansion” an
transition” which is more tha
increased rate of capital accu
accumulation occurs in a con
subproposition that
for the
It would follow further that
(2b2) Periods of transition are marked by particularly acute expressions of
class conflict and repression, particularly in peripheral areas.
The period of downturn or contraction of the world-economy does not
consist of the mirror opposite of the expansive phase, precisely because of the
fact that the secular trends contradict the cyclical rhythms (resulting in the
step-like pattern of world-economic evolution). The downturn period of the long
cycle proceeds from a higher level of development of the world-economy, at a
different historical period. Therefore:
(2c 1) While some peripheral areas and labor- forces are “exhausted” in the
period of transition from the upturn, and then the phase of contraction, this
may not be so far all peripheral land areas and work-forces. (For example, where
world recession interrupts trade flows, core powers may seek to guarantee
supplies by establishing direct controls over certain “new” peripheral regions
within a closed “mercantilist” network.)
(2c2) Periods of contraction are marked by the transfer of particular productive activities from peripheral to core and semiperipheral areas. (For example, agricultural activities not restricted to peripheral regions for climatic
reasons, may “revert” to core areas which thereby temporarily become relatively
self-sufficient, a process that can be interpreted as a maintenance of profit and
employment levels in the core at the expenses of the “old” periphery.)
(2c3) Periods of contraction are marked by the transfer of real employment
from core to semiperipheral areas, but not usually to peripheral areas. (An
instance of this phenomenon is evidenced by the capacity of semiperipheral
areas to erect tariffs in order to stimulate local industry in response to interruption of trade flow.)
In summary, all these instances demonstrate that the secular trend and cycli-
cal movements over long time periods are indeed manifestations of the same
process in the operations of the world-economy, namely, the growth in capital
formation and the steady extension over time of its geographical boundaries.
(c) Capital/labor
(1) Using the continuum of possibilities discussed previously, in which we
rank workers’ households in terms of how they obtain life-time total income, we
believe there are three principal varieties.
First, there are some households truly external economically to the development of the system, albeit located geographically within, whose subsistence
(however mean or luxurious) results from production unrelated to the capitalist
world-economy’s division of labor. Secondly, there are the households whose
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 135
subsistence or maintenance, throughout the whole of their lives, results fro
production within the world-economy, the products they consume to live co
sisting of payments in kind from those they work for, provisions from pub
authorities, or commodities purchased “in the market” with the payments
money (wages) they receive from those they work for. Production within t
world-economy thus provides for their material wants and so “reproduces
them, as labor, not only weekly or annually but generationally as well. Thirdly,
there are those households who receive part of their life income from “em
ployers” or market-purchasers and part from direct production either by them-
selves or others (who may be kin). As a result, the full cost of reproduction
not borne by “employers”. A good example would be the migrant laborer.
key question, however, is the degree to which they receive from their “e
ployers” a “proportionate” share of the costs of reproduction.
If one divides workers’ households into the three categories of subsistenc
redoubt households, part-life-time proletarian households, and life-time pro
tarian households, we propose that:
(la) At all points in time, the part-life-time proletarian household has bee
the majority category;
(lb) Over time, the proportion of life-time proletarian households has bee
(lc) Core countries contain larger percentages of life-time proletarian house-
holds than semiperipheral or peripheral countries. (Indeed, inversely, this
percentage difference might be considered a defining feature of “core” status);
(Id) The proportion of the costs of reproduction borne by the “employer”
or “market purchaser” per unit of labor-power utilized is significantly greater in
the case of the life-time than of the part-life-time proletarian households;
(le) Moments of expansion involve the shift of households “rightward” on
the continuum, involving subsistence redoubt households in part-life-time proletarian patterns, and shifting some part-life-time households to life-time status.
(If) Moments of “contraction” involve the “exhaustion” and consequent
earlier death of significant numbers of part-life-time proletarian households, as
well as the reversion of some life-time households to part-life-time status.
(2) The labor of part-life-time proletarian households everywhere costs
capital less than the labor of life-time proletarian households for exactly the
same work not only because the costs of reproducing the former are partly
(usually largely) borne by others than the “employers” (caught up in the concept of the “unlimited supplies of labor” and its effects on real wage-levels), but
also because full proletarianization carries with it political conditions conducive
to the growth of workers’ organizations, with their upward pressures on wagelevels. As labor becomes “free” enough to be fully proletarianized (full appropri-
ation of means of production as capital, resulting in all means of subsistence
being commodities), it becomes “free” enough to organize, for reasons associated with state-formation. It follows that:
(2a) Real wage-levels (or their equivalents) as a result tend always to be
higher in the core than in the periphery for exactly the same amount and kind of
labor, and the difference increases (decreases) as the disparity between them in
capital accumulation grows (lessens);
(2b) Subsistence households are moved into the “wage’Mabor force (thereby
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land), physical coercion (enslav
ation), and so forth have bee
of workers from external are
than partly
fully subsistenc
are, in general, less well off m
This pattern, coupled with th
which move a growing propor
being partly proletarianized, r
(2d) The long-term level o
globe’s work forces has been
sumed. (This derived claim o
not be, inconsistent with the
of. the fully proletarianized w
It would follow that
(2e) The continual (but hardly continuous) increases which the world-system
produces in real income (consumption) is appropriated by other than workers.
Capitalists proper undoubtedly are beneficiaries, but in numbers they have never
bulked large and in proportion they have invariably been on the decline. It thus
seems likely that the long-term beneficiaries are the professionals, technicians,
higher civil servants or bureaucrats, and so forth, so largely a product of and
disproportionately located in core-areas.
(3) The development of capital is commonly seen as tracing three interrelated
upward-tending paths: accumulation of capital, reflected in the growing
extent and worth of (non-human) means of production; concentration of
capital, reflected in the growing scale of operations; and centralization of capital,
reflected in the growing scale of ownership/control and in smaller numbers of
owners/controllers of capital. They are (theoretically) interrelated in the overall
movement approximately as follows.
The fundamental process is accumulation, which derives from labor’s production of surplus and its appropriation by capital but takes the form of in-
creasingly elaborated (non-human) means of production, because of price
competition and the derived pressure to lower costs of production, or because of
wage-demands and the derived pressure to reduce increased costs of production.
(3a) The increasing ratio of non-human to human means of production
(loosely, capital/labor ratio) that results commonly entails increasing concentration, although either competitive expansion of scale or expansion in response to
market-opportunities, without any technical or organizational change (except
sheer size), may produce it as well in the short-run.
Centralization results in part from competition and, in effect, monopoly-like
formations, within successively wider “markets”, but increasingly as well from
administered pools of money capital formed by financial agencies. It follows
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 137
(3b) The growth of centralization tends to be greatest when the rate
accumulation, as reflected in the rate of profit, declines, that is, in periods
contraction, and is in turn a condition for a subsequent increase in concent
tion, which grows more rapidly in periods of expansion (and, indeed, who
more rapid growth is integral to expansion, since it entails increased demand for
means of production).
Translating the argument into a series of expectable historical magnitude
however, even very general, very provisional ones, makes it clear that this versi
of the mechanism of capitalist development catches but a portion of the re
movement of capital as a whole. And the reason is that the mechanism appl
essentially only to core-areas with fully proletarianized populations, where
means of production are capital. We argue that
(3c) The magnitude of accumulation is far greater than would be anticipat
on the relatively narrow ground of the mechanisms of centralization and concen
tration. While the process of creation of fixed capital proceeds, so too does o
permanent basis so-called “primitive accumulation” (expropriation, and, as w
the conversion into capital of the tribute-formed treasuries of “empires” used t
purchase core-area commodities).
(3d) The magnitude of concentration is similarly larger than conventiona
believed, for the conversion of means of production of subsistence (notab
land) into capital (means of production of capital through commodity pro
duction with hired or impressed labor) commonly occurs on a large-sc
(plantation-size). Alternatively, the conversion is into means of commodity pro-
duction cum means of subsistence production in the hands of small farmer
whose “surpluses” generally are more or less substantially appropriated by t
mercantile nouses handling the marketing of the commodities and at that point
channeled into the accumulation process, with concentration of such small holdings occurring in waves during contraction.
(3e) The magnitude of centralization has however been another matter. Fo
expansion into external areas regularly offsets centralization, creating in effect
phases of seeming “de-centralization” – more individual capitals, more widel
dispersed. But only temporarily, for these “new” capitals, more often than n
in peripheries, regularly provide room for the centralizing tendency to oper
fully and to reassert core-area dominance in the accumulation process.
IV. Sources of Data and Modes of Measurement
(a) The unit of analysis
If there is one thing which distinguishes a world-system perspective from any
other, it is its insistence that the unit of analysis is a world-system defined in
terms of economic processes and links, and not any units defined in terms of
juridical, political, cultural, geological, etc. criteria.
Furthermore, the type of world-system known as the capitalist world-
economy is defined in terms of both spatial and temporal phenomena. Spatially,
it is composed of different economic zones whose location however tends to
shift; and the world-economy as a whole tends to expand sporadically. Tempo-
rally, it is subject to long-term waves of a cyclical nature; and it also transforms
itself structurally in secular patterns.
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spatial and temporal boundar
observe the processes that ar
Consequently, for both the
move back and forth from p
and calculation of the proces
within which observations s
Specifically, at the outset,
distinguish areas within the
and peripheral areas; a set o
long-term expansion and rel
(as well as of the “transition
economy; they constantly r
about these processes and pr
is itself a matter of extens
object of this research progr
and even qualitative data th
around units of analysis oth
gram. The usual unit has in
states, or
have at their dispos
of private organizat
lected at or
informed their work.
Even the data co
extrapolated to
It is not that this data is not useful. However, it is partial, and ignores whole
arenas of activity. Secondly, even where it exists, much of it must be extensively
reworked if it is to be used to relate to hypotheses concerning the worldeconomy. This is in part the case because, in some instances, state boundaries
rot merely do not correlate with but distinctively cross-cut economic boundaries. But it is also in part the case because many world-system processes we wish
to observe are relational and not cumulative in nature.
Therefore, we do not propose to outline here exactly how we would go about
the actual measurements. What we can do is to illustrate the way in which we
would approach the problem by selecting one process and discussing the issues
involved in the analysis. The one we have selected is the labor-process, subject of
the hypotheses located in III. c(l).
For an indication of how this might be done, see the empirical discussions of Africa’s relatio
capitalist world-economy in I. Wallerstein, “Africa in a Capitalist World,” Issue, III, 3, Fall 1973
I. Wallerstein, “The Three Stages of Africa’s Involvement in the World-Economy,” in P.C.W. Gu
Wallerstein, eds., The Political Economy of Contemporary Africa (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1976), 30-
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 139
Labor “processes”, sometimes called social relations of production, or mod
of labor control, are very extensively described in the collective literature of th
social sciences. The categories that are widely used to conceptualize varyin
processes are heavily juridical in nature and tend to be descriptive of the p
worker/uemployer” within the context of a “firm.” For example, we speak
wage-workers, and distinguish them from “self-employed” artisans, or cult
vators, or petty merchants, and also from “serfs” or slaves as well as from
tenants who pay “rents” or who “share” crops. In this set of possible titles, wha
distinguishes one worker’s social condition from another is in the first place leg
“rights.” Slaves cannot leave their work, but they may be transferred to ot
work against their will. “Serfs” may not leave their work but they may not
transferred. Wage-workers may leave their work, but they may also be “fired”;
however, they may not be transferred against their will. Tenants may leave (at
cost), or be dismissed (but only at a terminal point of the lease, which could
at death). We could go on.
There is another distinction that has to do with the flows of goods, servic
and money. Wage-workers receive money and render services; they do no
control the product. Slaves receive goods and render services; they do
control the product. Serfs may render goods, or services, or money, and receiv
in return the right to control the product of part of what they produce. Etc.
The whole thrust of modern history and social science is to see a long-te
historical shift of labor processes from “coerced” forms of labor to “free” labor
and from flows taking the form of goods and services to flows taking the form
money. Within limits, we do not contest this generalization.
There is a corollary assumption which is that “coerced” forms of labor an
flows of goods and services are “traditional” or “feudal” or “pre-capitalist”,
that “free” labor and monetary flows are “modern” or “capitalist” or even
“rational”.34 We do contest this formulation. It is the heart of the develo
mentalist paradigm, against which the world-system perspective stands. It is th
basis of assertions that repartimiento labor on haciendas in seventeenth-century
Latin America,35 or slavery on plantations in the American south,36 or sha
cropping,37 or companies of migrant cocoa-farmers in early twentieth-cent
West Africa38 were pre-capitalist forms, at most relating “externally” (via ”
change”) to a capitalist world-economy.
34# The non-“rationality” of pre-capitalist forms is central to Weber. See The Theory of Social a
Economic Organization (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1947), 276ff.
35′ Ernesto Laclau(h), “Imperialism in Latin America,” New Left Review , No. 67, May-June 1
19-38. See also Lesley Boyd Simpson, Many Mexicos (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1967), 111.
36# Eugene D. Genovese, The Political Economy of Slavery (New York: Pantheon, 1967); cf. Charl
Verlinden, The Beginnings of Colonization (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1970).
See the debate in the Journal of Economic History, XXXIII, Mar. 1973 between Roger Ransom
Richard Sutch (“Debt Peonage in the Cotton South After the Civil War”) and Joseph D. Reid, Jr. (“Sh
cropping as an Understandable Market Response – the Post-Bellum South”).
See the healthy skepticism of this standard vie
Cocoa-Farmers of Southern Ghana (Cambridge: Un
VII. 6, “Linguistic Economics,” 214-217.
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Suppose however we start n
“firm,” but with the worke
have already suggested the p
Obviously, we would arrive a
following continuum: from t
the part-life-time wage-work
hold. It becomes rapidly evid
categories would be considera
the plantation slave are quite
and the debt peon are quite far
as it groups diametrically diffe
The question is how would w
that we would need to get rath
of seemingly different produc
that, once done, such ethnog
patterns between traditional
In addition to “income,” we
of survival and reproduction
ery, and periphery); differe
moment (expansion, “transit
temporal boundaries.
Could we use existing data?
both ethnographic descriptio
for certain of them quantita
this data. And of course there
But with effort we could ar
least orders of magnitude) t
hypotheses, perhaps then ena
make more precise kinds of re
We are very conscious of the great danger of “specious accuracy,” so well described in Oskar
Morgenstern, On the Accuracy of Economic Observations, 2nd ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1963), esp. ch. Ill, 62-69.
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 141
(c) The research tasks
In light of our position on the unit of analysis and the processes of the worldeconomy, we believe there are six concrete research tasks that will enable us t
collect, collate, and construct the kinds of information we need to speak to th
Task 1: Bounding the World-Economy
The task of “bounding” the capitalist world-economy is twofold: (1) methodological, in terms of defining “bounding” criteria, and (2) empirical, in terms of
the subsequent operation of mapping the geographical extent of the worldeconomy over time. Operationally, the specification of boundaries is a prerequisite to quantification of the world-economy. The boundaries are not arbitrary.
Rather, the precondition and condition of their specification is resolved according to whether they are theoretically appropriate. In other words, the scope and
dimensions of the boundaries define the proportions of the world-economy as a
The world-economy is constituted by two sets of boundaries – “inner” and
“outer” boundaries – corresponding to what may be conceived as the intensive
and extensive growth patterns of the world-economy over time. The past five
centuries have seen the secular expansion of the “outer” boundaries of the
world-economy, so that there are now no arenas “external” to the world-
economy. Part of this task, then, is to designate the criteria necessary to differ-
entiate economic regions that are internal or external to the world-economy
during different historical periods.
The “inner” boundaries, which have expanded and contracted in accordance
with cyclical trends in the world-economy, more closely correspond to varying
use of land areas, and often, the inclusion or exclusion of occupying populations. They may therefore be more directly mapped geographically. That is,
while the “inner” boundaries may be constituted in part by variations in population density, their range for the most part varies with cyclical alterations in cost
structures of land resource use. This is indicated by such cyclical phenomena as
land reclamation (bonification) and land abandonment (Wustungen). Also,
current patterns of mining of cod deposits demonstrate the relation between
world cyclical economic trends and degrees of intensive exploitation of economic resources. A simple cumulation of national resource exploitation figures
may conceal the actual intensive boundaries (proportional distribution) of
world-economic exploitation of resources.
Methodologically, “bounding the world-economy” involves the process of
constituting boundaries, that is, learning to identify what is to be bounded. As
suggested above, and implied in the notion of regions “external to the world-
economy”, the boundaries are constituted by a series of processes, within
geographical perimeters. The series of processes of course vary according to their
historical context and their functional role in the world-economic division of
labor, and correspond to the kinds of relational networks associated with different productive systems.
With regard to the specification of “outer” boundaries, the determination of
these series of processes can proceed via three phenomena:
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(1) Identification of “growt
mediate expansion of the w
(2) Identification of pattern
compels systematic review,
cerning the long-standing c
ries”. It may be that by rec
land and/or sea routes of tra
tions of world-economic boundaries.
(3) Understanding the relation between world-economic boundaries and those
under state control. The centralizing (and colonizing) function of the state incor-
porates whole physical and economic regions under its supervision (through
imposition of land laws and tax systems, and the construction of transport
systems, for example). In certain cases, this may affect the mode of incorpora-
tion of markets or labor recruitment sources into the world-economy. Once the
relation between state and world-economic expansion is understood, then a
further method is available whereby research into the bounding of the worldeconomy can proceed from the phenomenon of the expansion/consolidation of
state boundaries.
Task 2: Mapping the Continually Changing Division of Labor of the WorldEconomy
The organizing principle of this operation is the categorical differentiation of
levels of the world-system: core, semiperiphery, and periphery. These zones,
distinguished by their different economic functions within the world-economic
division of labor, as well as by their class structures, political organization, and
modes of labor control, structure the assemblage of productive processes that
constitute the capitalist world-economy. The aim of this task is to record, over
periods of time, the relative contribution of these differentiated zones of the
world-economy to the production of essential commodities such as grains, meat
products, wood, textiles, sugar, metals (both precious and industrial), and so
The resulting differential distribution of productive processes, will record
relational, not arbitrary, distributions of these processes, with respect to the
world-economic zones. That is, the relative distribution of factory- or
plantation-systems, for example, according to the zones establishes empirically
the differential character of world-economic production patterns.
Over time, such patterns of “uneven development” show the rise and fall of
producing regions corresponding to systemic differentiation. Put another way,
this enterprise traces the shifting position of “peoples” in a shifting world-
economic division of labor.
Task 3 : Synthesis of Cyclical Studies Relating to the World-Economy
This task involves the investigation of studies concerned with cyclical movements of economic and social indices in international economy, with a view to
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Patterns of Development of the Modern World-System 143
determining the current state of knowledge of world economic cycles.40
We take as a model synthesis of theories and data that of Fernand Braudel an
Frank Spooner {op. cit.). Using price history (with respect to currencies a
precious metals, essential commodities, and real wage indexes) as a cutting e
Braudel and Spooner reappraise the historiography of the differential relat
over time among economic regions and monetary systems in Europe. Part of th
enterprise was necessarily concerned with the interplay among secular mo
ments of these three centuries and the demarcations and periodicities associ
with various cyclical trends (for example, from the Kondratieff half-cent
cycle, through the 15-year inter-cycle of Labrousse, to the shortest seas
cycles associated with the harvest year). The authors’ synthesis articulated
differential as well as the growing integral nature of successive economic
pulses of a Europe-wide economic rhythm. We find this method fruitful.
This research project is concerned of course with a more diverse array
constructed trends than just price series, which nevertheless are a major compo
nent of “serial history”. Our task will involve classifying the theoretical frame
works of the studies, their units of analysis (explicit/implicit), the kinds of an
range of data used, the method of identification of parameters of cycles,
timing and interplay of cycles, the comparability of cyclical trends observed,
so forth. Such investigation is concerned with the internal consistency of
studies, in terms of both their conceptual framework and the measurem
Task 4: Types of Organizing Units of Production Processes
This task is concerned with developing sets of indicators of the differen
complexity and location of production processes on a world-scale, in the contex
of labor-capital relations. Although the latter relation remains as one const
organizing principle of production, the content and character of the relat
varies with respect both to its particular historical location and to the wo
systemic context of the process. Thus, whereas the extent and kind of relation
network caught up. by the term of “putting-out system” may have grown fro
one at a local town-hinterland level in eighteenth-century Europe to a tra
national phenomenon involving the system of multi-national corporate bra
plants in the twentieth century, the result of expansion of the unit-size and s
of operation of capitalist enterprise, the former type of putting-out opera
remains nonetheless a widespread phenomenon in terms of local product
processes in some peripheral regions of the world-economy today side by
with the new variety.
The variety of productive systems (e.g., petty commodity production,
manufactory, plantation system, mining operation, factory system, ranch
share-cropping, branch-plant production) is to be classified according to t
and places of occurrence. The classification of the actual kinds of produc
Such studies include: I. Svennilson, Growth and Stagnation in the European Economy (Gen
U.N.E.C.E., 1954); W. A. Lewis, “World Production, Prices, and Trade,” Manchester School of Econ
and Social Studies, XX, 1962, 105-138; Angus Maddison, “Growth and Fluctuation in the World Econo
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