Title: Call for a Debate about the Paradigm

Author: Emmanuel Wallerstein


Summary By: Tatiana Ware


Discussion points

World Systems Analysis is a protest against the ways in which social scientific inquiry was structured during the mid 19th century, and challenges the prevailing mode of inquiry .

Wallerstein critiques 7 common assumptions of social scientific inquiry:
· Social science consists of disciplines that are intellectually coherent and distinct
o This differences btwn permissible topics, methods etc within the “disciplines” are greater than those “between” them (reminds me of Abbott)
· History explains what really happened in the past whereas social science is the universal set of rules by which human/social interaction explained.
· Humans are organized into societies which represents the basic frameworks through which life is lived.
o Critiques the usage of the word societies (possibly because of its indexical nature)
o Juxtaposition of state v society
§ States were focuses of political activity
§ Society represented the manners and customs that held a group of people together without, despite or against formal rules formal rules. (245)
§ Society is seen as more enduring, less easily manipulated compared to the state.
When and where do the entities within which social life occurs exist?
· Capitalism is a system based on competition between producers using free labor with free commodities
o The concept of degrees of capitalism necessitates quantitative analysis.
· Capitalists achieved state societal power in key states around the end of the 18th-begin of 19th century. This marked a crucial turning point in the history of the world.
o The French revolution represents change in the political arena
o The industrial revolution represents economic manifestation of capitalists assuming state power and the possibilities for the capitalist system to expand. (252)
· Human history is progressive
· Science is the search for rules that parsimoniously explain why everything is the way it is and how things happen
Is there human agency?
· According to Wallerstein and his call for world systems analysis, the rejection of the idea that human history is progressive necessarily leaves room for human agency, for better or for worse. The concept of progressive history is not only path dependent, but inherently denies the possibility of
And can there be equality? Article doesn’t explicitly deal with equality
What is the nature of human nature?

Discussion Questions
As academics have we also bought into the happy feel good ending in our research objectives? Does how does that skew the kinds of questions we ask?
What value does world systems analysis have outside of these 7 basic assumptions assessed?