Challenges of globalization theory to world-systems analysis

Authored by: Leslie Sklair

Routledge Handbook of World-Systems Analysis

Print publication date:  May  2012
Online publication date:  May  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415563642
eBook ISBN: 9780203863428
Adobe ISBN: 9781135179151


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Globalization has become a very unwieldy idea. In some senses it has replaced twentieth-century staples of social thought such as social change and development. A sampling of the variety of approaches to, and theories of, globalization reveals an overlap that is probably less than you would find in equivalent volumes covering most of the recognized sub-fields in the social sciences. This probably reflects the relatively chaotic (unparadigmatic) nature of globalization studies. My own version of globalization theory—a theoretical framework for analyzing social change and development in their widest applications in the global (post 1950s) age—is one among many attempts to make sense of globalization. It presents some challenges to world-systems analysis (hereafter w-sa). My theory is based on the following distinctions intended to deconstruct and then reconstruct the concept of globalization in a dialectic of thesis (generic globalization), antithesis (capitalist globalization), and synthesis (alternative globalizations). The argument is that the emancipatory potential of generic globalization has been subverted by the repressive class-based exploitations of capitalist globalization (paralleling the ways in which the progressive aspects of the capitalist mode of production have been undermined by the social relations of actually existing capitalisms), and that the way forward is to be found in a number of non-capitalist alternative globalizations, of which socialist globalization appears (to me, at least) to be the most promising in the long term.

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