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World system theory and dependency theory

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Christian Damholt

on 15 January 2014

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Transcript of World system theory and dependency theory

World system theory and dependency theory
Content and problematic
1. Presentation of characteristics of world systems theories

2. Brenner's critique of Wallerstein and "neo-smithian marxists"

3. Discussion on dependency theory and its contemporary relevance

Immanuel Wallerstein coined the concept of the ‘world systems theory‘ and defined it, in 1974, briefly, as: "a system is defined as a unit with a single division of labour and multiple cultural systems".

The division of labour is based on trade and exchange and the mode of labour control is different in each state in the system.

Immanuel Wallerstein's idea of world systems
Wallerstein traces the origin of today's world-system to the "long 16th century"

This was a period that began with the discovery of the Americas by West European sailors and ended with the English Revolution of 1640
Robert Brenner's view of Wallerstein
• Capitalism came out of as a result of the rise of trade (and demographics).
• Wallerstein defines capitalism as a trade-based division of labour. Free labour as commodity in the core and coerced in the periphery.
• New products on the market tends to increase the feudal lords’ drive to increase their consumption, and that this may lead them to systematize the means of acquiring goods which can be used to buy these new products.

Brenner on Wallerstein 2
• Development of trade and division of labour bring about economic development (“neo-smithian Marxist”: bater and trade = ahistorical, non-class conception)

• Thus accumulation through innovation is seen as a function of the imperatives of exchange on the market and the productive effects of “natural” specialization (no specific social relations, quantitative)

• Development and underdevelopment are fundamentally interlinked and are effects of this abstract process of capitalist expansion (“development of under development”).

• Surplus transfer form periphery to core ("method of labour control": the periphery is being exploited by the core).

Brenner's critique of Wallerstein
Ahistorical: There have been trade and innovation for thousands of years. The rise of capitalism came out of a distinct type of class struggle and this is the basis for capitalist development

Displaces the class analysis: analysis of class struggle remains an effect of the development of productive forces (primarily productivity via technological improvements) tied to the world division of labour

Brenners critique 2
Wallerstein’s understanding of the state structure is also economically determined by the world division of labour (core-periphery).
Robert cox: undervalue the state + reification of the state

Still a significant mass of use value in (labour and natural resources), which is not a part of capital accumulation.

Empirically there are important national developments.
Main characteristics
Three major influences of world-systems theory are:
the Annales school,
and dependence theory
Level of analysis: state as the primary unit
Interlinked development of capitalism affects all states and local levels
- Articulated the ideas of the Latin American Dependista School in Anglophone academia as ‘Dependency Theory’.

- “The Development of Underdevelopment” (1966)

- Rostow & Modernisation Theory

André Gunder Frank – Dependency Theory
- Frank’s Dependency Theory as a Weaker Systems Theory than Wallerstein’s: States can reverse ‘underdevelopment’ by restricting interaction with the Metropolis

- Socialism as the only way for Satellite countries to fully break the Dependent cycle of capitalism and underdevelopment: defined in terms of unequal trade and exchange

- States as the primary unit of analysis: what about institutions and classes?

Structure and Agency
- Dependency theory and World Systems theory: two peas in a pod or different theoretical models?

- Adam Smith in Beijing: the rise of China and decline of the US?

- Is Dependency Theory still relevant today?

Dependency today - transnationalised production and US decline?
- Cardoso & Faletto – Dependency and Development in Latin America (1969)

- Roxborough – Unity and Diversity in Latin American Development (1984)

- The incorporation of class-analysis to Dependency theory, and the importance of transnational productive systems

Dependency theory after Frank
Thank you for your attention!
- Metropolis – Satellite model emerged with Colonialism and the internationalisation of the economy

- Power-relations impede the Satellite state from industrialising within an exchange system with the Metropolis (the West)

- ‘Classical Industrial Development’ possible only in times on diminished Metropolitan investment: WWI, Great Depression, WW2. States thus able to pursue protectionist policies in the Satellite states.

Colonialism and Power in Dependence
Gunder Frank’s Dependency Theory
- Capitalism, through unequal trade and exchange, creates under-development

- Metropolis & Satellite: not just between Europe & US vis-à-vis the rest of the world, but also within a nation between the urban and the rural.

- Specialised production on an inter-national level, with agricultural and raw-resource extraction in satellites and manufacturing and higher-value added production in metropolis.

o The primary opponents in Wallersteins analysis: core vs. the periphery (and maybe the cities vs. the countryside).

The workers in the developed countries benefit form the extraction of surplus value from the developing countries. Not between workers and capitalists.

o Thus: the theory minimizes the potentialities of working class action in developed, industrial countries.

Political implications of Wallerstein
Full transcript