Conceptualizing the world economy

The world market

Authored by: Gordon M. Winder

The Routledge Handbook of Transregional Studies

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138718364
eBook ISBN: 9780429438233
Adobe ISBN:


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In the field of economics, growth in world trade is considered a driver of growth in the world economy and a force leading toward convergence in commodity prices across geographically dispersed markets. Moreover, growth in the value of market transactions indicates the commodification of further parts of the world economy. Both statements relate to the ‘world market’ and this chapter explores these ideas by first outlining the discursive framework within which the world market – a term from neo-classical economics – was set to work. The chapter then identifies critical responses to the concept from within the social sciences that either focus on the implications of the assumptions underlying the concept or rely on the alternative framework of the ‘capitalist world-system’. A summary of the periodization of the development of world trade that emerges from this alternative framework is then provided in order to highlight the ways in which forms of integration and geographies of trade have shifted. Finally, I advocate a transnational approach to cope with the problems that the term world market generates.

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