The Analytical-Holistic Divide Within World-Systems Analysis

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Book Chapter

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The fundamental point of departure marking world-system analysis was its framing the capitalist world-system as a singular unit of analysis and site of social change. While the balance of world-system contributors refrain from overtly addressing ontological matters, two broad tendencies predominate—those proceeding from more analytical precepts and those hewing to a more holistic perspective. An analytical approach conceives of parts as discrete entities possessing certain properties that enter into relationships and that can be isolated for purposes of analysis. A holistic approach, by contrast, conceives of a part as a relational-contextual phenomenon whose individual qualities are expressions of this relational context. From a holistic standpoint, the analytical notions of an infinite linear time flow and of explanatory temporal segments is augmented by a notion of reciprocally conditioning temporal horizons. By contrast, for a holistic approach, core and periphery represent a type of relational context resulting from ongoing historical processes.




Chapter published in The World-System as Unit of Analysis: Past Contributions and Future Advances, Edited By Roberto Patricio Korzeniewicz, Published by Routledge, September 2017.

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