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  • Westview Press

Prose: non-fiction, Political science & theory

Spanning ten thousand years of social change, this book examines the ways in which world-systems evolve. A comparative study of stateless societies, state-based regional empires, and the modern global capitalist political economy, it reveals the underlying processes at work in the reproduction and transformation of social, economic, and political structures. Christopher Chase-Dunn and Thomas Hall show that stateless societies developed in the context of regional intersocietal networks that differed significantly from larger and more hierarchical world-systems. The processes by which chiefdoms rose and fell are similar to the ways in which states, empires, and modern hegemonic core states have experienced uneven development. Most world-systems exhibit a pattern of political centralization and decentralization, but the mechanisms and processes of change can vary greatly. Looking at the systematic similarities and differences among small scale, middle-sized, and global world-systems, the authors address such questions as: Do all world-systems have core/periphery hierarchies in which the development of one area necessitates the underdevelopment of another? How were kin-based logics of social integration transformed into state-based tributary logics, and how did capitalism emerge within the interstices of tributary states and empires to eventually become the predominant logic of accumulation? How did the rise of commodity production and the eventual dominance of capitalist accumulation modify the processes by which political centres rise and fall? Rise and Demise offers far-reaching explanations of social change, showing how the comparative study of world-systems increases our understanding of early history, the contemporary global system, and future possibilities for world society.

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