Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein (/ˈwɔːlərstiːn/; born September 28, 1930) is an American sociologist, historical social scientist, and world-systems analyst, arguably best known for his development of the general approach in sociology which led to the emergence of his world-systems approach. He publishes bimonthly syndicated commentaries on world affairs. He has been a Senior Research Scholar at Yale University since 2000.
Wallerstein giving a talk at a seminar at the European University at St. Petersburg in May 2008.
September 28, 1930|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Known for||World-systems theory|
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
|Thesis||The Emergence of Two West African Nations: Ghana and the Ivory Coast (1959)|
|Doctoral advisor||Robert Staughton Lynd|
|Influences||Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Fernand Braudel, Raúl Prebisch, Sigmund Freud, Karl Polanyi, Joseph Schumpeter Frantz Fanon, Ilya Prigogine|
|Sub-discipline||Historical sociology, Comparative sociology, World-systems theory|
|Institutions||McGill University, Binghamton University, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Yale University|
Having grown up in a politically conscious family, Wallerstein first became interested in world affairs as a teenager while living in New York City. He received all three of his degrees from Columbia University: a BA in 1951, an MA in 1954, and a PhD in 1959. However, throughout his life, Wallerstein has also studied at other universities around the world, including Oxford University from 1955–56, Université libre de Bruxelles, Universite Paris 7 Denis Diderot, and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
From 1951 to 1953 Wallerstein served in the U.S. Army. After returning from his service, he wrote his master's thesis on McCarthyism as a phenomenon of American political culture, which was widely cited and which, Wallerstein states, "confirmed my sense that I should consider myself, in the language of the 1950s, a 'political sociologist'". Eleven years later, on May 25, 1964, he married Beatrice Friedman; the couple has one daughter.
Wallerstein's academic and professional career began at Columbia University, where he started as an instructor and later became an associate professor of sociology from 1958 to 1971. During his time there, he served as a prominent supporter of the students during the Columbia University protests of 1968. In 1971, he moved from New York to Montreal, where he taught at McGill University for five years.
Originally, Wallerstein's prime area of intellectual concern was not American politics, but politics of the non-European world, most especially those of India and Africa. For two decades, Wallerstein served as an Africa scholar, publishing numerous books and articles, and in 1973, became president of the African Studies Association.
In 1976, Wallerstein was offered the unique opportunity to pursue a new avenue of research, and so became head of the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems and Civilization at Binghamton University in New York, whose mission is "to engage in the analysis of large-scale social change over long periods of historical time." The Center was opened with the publishing support of a new journal Review (of which Wallerstein was the founding editor), and would go on to produce a body of work that "went a long way toward invigorating sociology and its sister disciplines, especially history and political-economy." Wallerstein would serve as a distinguished professor of sociology at Binghamton until his retirement in 1999.
Throughout his career, Wallerstein has held visiting professor posts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, British Columbia, and Amsterdam, among numerous others. He has been awarded multiple honorary titles, intermittently served as Directeur d'études associé at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and was president of the International Sociological Association between 1994 and 1998. Similarly, during the 1990s, he chaired the Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences, whose object was to indicate a direction for social scientific inquiry for the next 50 years.
Since 2000, Wallerstein has served as a Senior Research Scholar at Yale University. He is also a member of the Advisory Editors Council of the Social Evolution & History journal. In 2003, he received the Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award from the American Sociological Association, and in 2004 was awarded with the Gold Kondratieff Medal by the International N. D. Kondratieff Foundation and the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RAEN).
Wallerstein began as an expert of post-colonial African affairs, which he selected as the focus of his studies after attending international youth conferences in 1951 and 1952. His publications were almost exclusively devoted to this until the early 1970s, when he began to distinguish himself as a historian and theorist of the global capitalist economy on a macroscopic level. His early criticism of global capitalism and championship of "anti-systemic movements" have recently made him an éminence grise with the anti-globalization movement within and outside of the academic community, along with Noam Chomsky and Pierre Bourdieu.
His most important work, The Modern World-System, has appeared in four volumes since 1974, with additional planned volumes still forthcoming. In it, Wallerstein draws on several intellectual influences:
However, Wallerstein categorizes Frantz Fanon, Fernand Braudel, and Ilya Prigogine as the three individuals that have had the greatest impact "in modifying my line of argument (as opposed to deepening a parallel line of argument)." In The Essential Wallerstein, he chronologically lists the three individuals and describes their influence on his views:
Wallerstein has also stated that another major influence on his work was the "world revolution" of 1968. He was on the faculty of Columbia University at the time of the student uprising there, and participated in a faculty committee that attempted to resolve the dispute. He has argued in several works that this revolution marked the end of "liberalism" as a viable ideology in the modern world system. He also argued that the end of the Cold War, rather than marking a triumph for liberalism, indicates that the current system has entered its 'end' phase; a period of crisis that will end only when it is replaced by another system. Wallerstein anticipated the growing importance of the North–South divide at a time when the main world conflict was the Cold War..
He has argued since 1980 that the United States is a "hegemon in decline". He was often mocked for making this claim during the 1990s, but since the Iraq War this argument has become more widespread. Overall, Wallerstein sees the development of the capitalist world economy as detrimental to a large proportion of the world's population. Similar to Marx, Wallerstein predicts that capitalism will be replaced by a socialist economy.
Wallerstein has both participated in and written about the World Social Forum.
Wallerstein's first volume on world-systems theory (The Modern World System, 1974) was predominantly written during a year at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (now affiliated with Stanford University). In it, he argues that the modern world system is distinguished from empires by its reliance on economic control of the world order by a dominating capitalist center (core) in systemic economic and political relation to peripheral and semi-peripheral world areas.
Wallerstein rejects the notion of a "Third World", claiming that there is only one world connected by a complex network of economic exchange relationships — i.e., a "world-economy" or "world-system" in which the "dichotomy of capital and labor" and the endless "accumulation of capital" by competing agents (historically including, but not limited, to nation-states) account for frictions. This approach is known as the world-system theory.
Wallerstein locates the origin of the modern world-system in 16th-century Western Europe and the Americas. An initially slight advance in capital accumulation in Britain, the Dutch Republic, and France, due to specific political circumstances at the end of the period of feudalism, set in motion a process of gradual expansion. As a result, only one global network or system of economic exchange exists in modern society. By the 19th century, virtually every area on earth was incorporated into the capitalist world-economy.
The capitalist world-system is far from homogeneous in cultural, political, and economic terms; instead, it is characterized by fundamental differences in social development, accumulation of political power, and capital. Contrary to affirmative theories of modernization and capitalism, Wallerstein does not conceive of these differences as mere residues or irregularities that can and will be overcome as the system evolves.
A lasting division of the world into core, semi-periphery, and periphery is an inherent feature of world-system theory. Other theories, partially drawn on by Wallerstein, leave out the semi-periphery and do not allow for a grayscale of development. Areas which have so far remained outside the reach of the world-system enter it at the stage of "periphery". There is a fundamental and institutionally stabilized "division of labor" between core and periphery: while the core has a high level of technological development and manufactures complex products, the role of the periphery is to supply raw materials, agricultural products, and cheap labor for the expanding agents of the core. Economic exchange between core and periphery takes place on unequal terms: the periphery is forced to sell its products at low prices, but has to buy the core's products at comparatively high prices. Once established, this unequal state tends to stabilize itself due to inherent, quasi-deterministic constraints. The statuses of core and periphery are not exclusive and fixed geographically, but are relative to each other. A zone defined as "semi-periphery" acts as a periphery to the core and as a core to the periphery. At the end of the 20th century, this zone would comprise Eastern Europe, China, Brazil, and Mexico. It is important to note that core and peripheral zones can co-exist in the same location.
One effect of the expansion of the world-system is the commodification of things, including human labor. Natural resources, land, labor, and human relationships are gradually being stripped of their "intrinsic" value and turned into commodities in a market which dictates their exchange value.
In the last two decades, Wallerstein has increasingly focused on the intellectual foundations of the modern world-system and the pursuit of universal theories of human behavior. In addition, he has shown interest in the "structures of knowledge" defined by the disciplinary division between sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, and the humanities, which he himself regards as Eurocentric. In analyzing them, he has been highly influenced by the "new sciences" of theorists like Ilya Prigogine.
Wallerstein's theory has provoked harsh criticism, not only from neo-liberal or conservative circles, but even from some historians who say that some of his assertions may be historically incorrect. Some critics suggest that Wallerstein tends to neglect the cultural dimension of the modern world-system, arguing that there is a world system of global culture which is independent from the economic processes of capitalism; this reduces it to what some call "official" ideologies of states which can then easily be revealed as mere agencies of economic interest. Nevertheless, his analytical approach, along with that of associated theorists such as Andre Gunder Frank, Terence Hopkins, Samir Amin, Christopher Chase-Dunn, Thomas D. Hall and Giovanni Arrighi, has made a significant impact on the field and has established an institutional base devoted to the general approach of intellectual inquiry. Their ideology has also attracted strong interest from the anti-globalization movement.
Wallerstein's definition follows dependency theory, which intended to combine the developments of the different societies since the 16th century in different regions into one collective development. The main characteristic of his definition is the development of a global division of labour, including the existence of independent political units (in this case, states) at the same time. There is no political center, compared to global empires like the Roman Empire; instead, the capitalist world-system is identified by the global market economy. It is divided into core, semi-periphery, and periphery regions, and is ruled by the capitalist method of production.
Defines the difference between developed and developing countries, characterized e.g. by power or wealth. The core refers to developed countries, the periphery to the dependent developing countries. The main reason for the position of the developed countries is economic power.
Defines states that are located between core and periphery, and who benefit from the periphery through unequal exchange relations. At the same time, the core benefits from the semi-periphery through unequal exchange relations.
Defines a kind of monopoly where there is more than one service provider for a particular good/service. Wallerstein claims that quasi-monopolies are self-liquidating because new sellers go into the market by exerting political pressure to open markets to competition.
A Kondratiev wave is defined as a cyclical tendency in the world's economy. It is also known as a supercycle. Wallerstein argues that global wars are tied to Kondratiev waves. According to him, global conflicts occur as the summer phase of a wave begins, which is when production of goods and services around the world are on an upswing.
|1961||Africa, The Politics of Independence||Immanuel Wallerstein||New York: Vintage Books|
|1964||The Road to Independence: Ghana and the Ivory Coast||Immanuel Wallerstein||Paris & The Hague: Mouton|
|1967||Africa: The Politics of Unity||Immanuel Wallerstein||New York: Random House|
|1969||University in Turmoil: The Politics of Change||Immanuel Wallerstein||New York: Atheneum|
|1972||Africa: Tradition & Change||Immanuel Wallerstein with Evelyn Jones Rich||New York: Random House|
|1974||The Modern World-System, vol. I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century||Immanuel Wallerstein||New York/London: Academic Press|
|1979||The Capitalist World-Economy||Immanuel Wallerstein||Cambridge University Press|
|1980||The Modern World-System, vol. II: Mercantilism and the Consolidation of the European World-Economy, 1600-1750||Immanuel Wallerstein||New York: Academic Press|
|1982||World-Systems Analysis: Theory and Methodology||Immanuel Wallerstein with Terence K. Hopkins et al.||Beverly Hills: Sage|
|1982||Dynamics of Global Crisis||Immanuel Wallerstein with Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi and Andre Gunder Frank||London: Macmillan|
|1983||Historical Capitalism||Immanuel Wallerstein||London: Verso|
|1984||The Politics of the World-Economy. The States, the Movements and the Civilizations||Immanuel Wallerstein||Cambridge: Cambridge University Press|
|1986||Africa and the Modern World||Immanuel Wallerstein||Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press|
|1989||The Modern World-System, vol. III: The Second Great Expansion of the Capitalist World-Economy, 1730-1840's||Immanuel Wallerstein||San Diego: Academic Press|
|1989||Antisystemic Movements||Immanuel Wallerstein with Giovanni Arrighi and Terence K. Hopkins||London: Verso|
|1990||Transforming the Revolution: Social Movements and the World-System||Immanuel Wallerstein with Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi and Andre Gunder Frank||New York: Monthly Review Press|
|1991||Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities||Immanuel Wallerstein with Étienne Balibar||London: Verso.|
|1991||Geopolitics and Geoculture: Essays on the Changing World-System||Immanuel Wallerstein||Cambridge: Cambridge University Press|
|1991||Unthinking Social Science: The Limits of Nineteenth Century Paradigms||Immanuel Wallerstein||Cambridge: Polity|
|1995||After Liberalism||Immanuel Wallerstein||New York: New Press|
|1995||Historical Capitalism, with Capitalist Civilization||Immanuel Wallerstein||London: Verso|
|1998||Utopistics: Or, Historical Choices of the Twenty-first Century||Immanuel Wallerstein||New York: New Press|
|1999||The End of the World As We Know It: Social Science for the Twenty-first Century||Immanuel Wallerstein||Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press|
|2001||Democracy, Capitalism, and Transformation||Immanuel Wallerstein||Documenta 11, Vienna, March 16, 2001|
|2003||Decline of American Power: The U.S. in a Chaotic World||Immanuel Wallerstein||New York: New Press|
|2004||The Uncertainties of Knowledge||Immanuel Wallerstein||Philadelphia: Temple University Press|
|2004||World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction||Immanuel Wallerstein||Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press|
|2004||Alternatives: The U.S. Confronts the World||Immanuel Wallerstein||Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm Press|
|2006||European Universalism: The Rhetoric of Power||Immanuel Wallerstein||New York: New Press|
|2011||The Modern World-System, vol. IV: Centrist Liberalism Triumphant, 1789–1914||Immanuel Wallerstein||Berkeley: University of California Press|
|2013||Uncertain Worlds: World-Systems Analysis in Changing Times||Immanuel Wallerstein with Charles Lemert and Carlos Antonio Aguirre Rojas||Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers|
|2013||Does Capitalism Have a Future?||Immanuel Wallerstein with Randall Collins, Michael Mann, Georgi Derluguian and Craig Calhoun||New York: Oxford University Press|
|2015||The World is Out of Joint: World-Historical Interpretations of Continuing Polarizations||Immanuel Wallerstein (editor)||Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers|