This article provides information about the Neo-marxian approach to social development !
One of the primary historical-sociological perspectives is that of the world-systems analysis, a neo-Marxian approach built around analyses of modes of production. This approach developed from an analysis of the economic and material world, specifically capitalism as it emerged and developed in Europe beginning in the 1500s. The world-systems analysis generally argues that this new economic and social system broke the power of earlier political and economic empires and systems, and developed towards a dominant world system.
While originating in Europe, the world system that has emerged over the last five hundred years is without limits and extends for its reach throughout the globe. In contrast to some Marxian approaches, this world system is not always progressive in its effects it encompasses a variety of modes of production, and could ultimately be replaced by a socialist world system.
The world-systems analysis was developed by Immanuel Wallerstein who has been a professor at Columbia University, McGill University, and currently the State University of New York at Binghamton. Wallerstein is best known for his The Modern World- System, published in 1974.
In this work he analyses the origins of the modern system, beginning around 1500, where there began a shift from political and military forms of dominance to economic influences and power. In later volumes, Wallerstein traces the development of this new system, showing how it is creating core, periphery, and semi-periphery regions of the world. While political structures are connected to economic ones, Wallerstein argues that a variety of political structures are compatible with the capitalist world system.
The world-systems theory abandons national economies and the nation state as the unit of analysis. Marxian theory generally works within the framework of national social structures, with a capitalist and a working class being rooted in the organisation of production and distribution on a national scale. The world-systems theory considers the division of labour, exploitation, and inequality on a world rather than a national level.
That is, capitalism is not just organised on a national level, it develops and uses resources, labour, production, and markets on a world scale. The development of Canada could easily be interpreted within a world-systems approach. European expansion led to the development of Atlantic fisheries to supply food for Europe. Later the development of the fur trade made Canada supply furs for European consumption.
These were connected to the development of industry and consumer markets in Europe – with an emerging bourgeoisie and working class. The development of trade and European expansion across North America destroyed many of the aboriginal economies that existed earlier.
Agricultural and industrial changes in Europe led to export of dispossessed and poor Europeans to settle in North America. Forest, mining, and agricultural products were exported to Europe, thereby assisting in the growth of European and North American capitalism. While some areas benefited, others became disadvantaged as a result of these developments. Social and class structures have a connection to this international division of labour and the forms of development of production and markets on a world scale.
In world-systems analysis there are three types of regions. The core areas of the world system are the wealthy countries of Europe and North America that dominate and exploit much of the rest of the world. These countries tend to have relatively free labour markets with relatively well paid skilled workers.
In contrast, the periphery is poor and exploited, exporting raw materials to the core economies. Conditions for workers in the periphery tend to be very poor, and workers in these countries are often coerced through slavery or threat of starvation. The core countries benefit by maintaining the peripheral countries in a backward state.
Semi-peripheral countries combine aspects of the core and periphery, being exploited and exploiting. Examples might include some of the poorer parts of Europe (Portugal or Greece) or some of the better off South American countries such as Argentina. The key to the division, however, is not so much the countries but the position any area occupies within the international division of labour. For example, there may be peripheral areas of core countries (some parts of northern Saskatchewan or the Maritimes) and core areas in primarily peripheral countries.