Lecture 11 August 1, 2013
Chapter 13: From World System: From Colonization to Globalization
The World Capitalist System
World System theory: single social system based on production for market exchange,
profit maximization, and economic growth.
Made up for three primary categories: Core: industrialized that were producing
consuming goods. Periphery: Less development, cheap labour and raw materials.
Based on wealth and power differentials
Characterized by spread of industrial capitalist world economic since 15th century.
Core, Semi-periphery and Periphery.
Globalization as Systematic Connectedness
Globalization refers to processes of increasing systematic connectedness
Global connectedness is not new in itself. What is new is:
1) Speed of Global Communication
2) Scale of Global Networks.
3) Volume of international transactions
What is Globalization?
Globalization as fact: the spread in connectedness - production, communication,
Globalization as ideology and policies - efforts to expand the capitalist world system
based on free market principles (IMG, WB, WTO, etc)
Often resisted through processes and practices of anti-globalization or localization.
Globalization: Scapes and Flows
Arjun Appadurai: characterizes present world as "translocal", "interactive system" that is
Postmodern: blurring and breakdown of established cannons, categories, distinctions, and
Appadurai's five dimensions of global cultural flows:
1. Ethnoscapes : increasing flow and movement of people, flow and mixing for people
2. Mediascapes: media images including TV, radio and internet
3. Technoscapes: spread of technology
4. Financescapes: movement in finances and money
5. Ideoscapes: flow of ideas and ideology, The Great Transformation
Anthropologist Karl Polanyi states that the history for the last 500 years can be
understood as a competition between two ideologies, the will to improve and the will to
Origins of the World System: The Will to Improve
1600 - the verb "to improve" first use to refer to increasing the rental and sale value of
agricultural land - to generate profit
1650 - expanded to include technological change to increase productivity of land - new
farming techniques - linked to idea of scientific progress and advancement
1700 - Improvement as "intervention philosophy" seen as the purpose of government
and "the white man's burden" . Justified conquest and colonialism.
Feudalism, Common Property and the Open Field System
Open Field System: Where entire community will farm in open community rather than
each farmer having their own land. Very complex system.
The Will to Improve: Enclosure
Enclosure: transformation of common property into private property
Under enclosure, common lands are fenced (enclosed) and deeded or entitled to one or
Initiated in 1500s in England
Enclosure created "land" as a commodity with exchange value - could be bought and sold
Feudalism replaced by capitalism - private property and market exchange.
Landscape change could enhance value - clearing forest, draining marshes/swamps.
Poor people displaced from land - rural - urban migration and created cheap labour for
The Will to Improve : Progress
Idea of Improvement expanded to include technological change and experimentation
Classical ideas of cyclical time replaced by notion of linear time and unlimited growth
Improvement and progress applied not just to nature, but to human society as well.
Plough was also an important development in agricultural.