Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The world-systems perspective is a strategy for explaining social change that focuses on whole inter-societal systems rather than single societies. The main insight is that important interaction networks (trade, information flows, alliances, and fighting) have woven polities and cultures together since the beginning of human social evolution. Thus explanations of social change need to take intersocietal systems (world-systems) as the units that evolve. But intersocietal interaction networks were rather small when transportation was mainly a matter of humans carrying loads on foot. Globalization, in the sense of the expansion and intensification of larger interaction networks, has been increasing for millennia, albeit unevenly and in waves. The intellectual history of world-systems theory has roots in classical sociology and Marxian political economy. But in explicit form, the world-systems perspective emerged only in the 1970s when Samir Amin, Andre Gunder Frank, and Immanuel Wallerstein began to formulate the concepts and narrate the analytic ...