Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971973 | Print ISBN: 9781412914321 | Online ISBN: 9781412971973 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The world-systems perspective (WSP) emerged in the early to mid-1970s with the publication of the first volume of Immanuel Wallerstein's The Modern World-System. The paradigm comprises not a set of theories but rather a set of perspectives on how to study macrolevel social change under capitalism over long periods of historical time. The WSP was launched against modernization theory and put forward modern capitalism at the center of its analysis. A large-scale, long-term, and relational perspective on the study of the reproduction of structural inequality under capitalism characterizes the WSP. First, the WSP emphasizes the large scale and takes the world-systems of nation-states as the unit of analysis. Instead of a series of parallel national processes, as suggested by modernization theory, the WSP posits that capitalist accumulation has always been a world process simultaneously involving all countries and regions in the world. Second, the WSP emphasizes historical continuity and the ...