World Systems Theory

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In the search for an interpretive framework that has generalized applicability, scholars have had recourse to various approaches. World-systems theory offers a model of human interaction that crosscuts economic, political, and social dimensions. In addition, world-systems theory is multiscalar, i.e., it assesses the connection between different levels in a regional and interregional system. The approach originated with the work of Immanuel Wallerstein and A. Gunder Frank, and has been adopted and adapted by anthropologists and archaeologists to describe the nature of integrated systems in the past as well as the present. The components of a world-system are typically referred to as cores, peripheries, and semi-peripheries. The interaction among these segments involves the process of incorporation. While cores tend to exploit peripheries, there is a level of flexibility or negotiation between the levels, especially in the periods of concern to archaeologists. © 2008 Copyright © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Boundaries, Contested periphery, Core, Core/periphery differentiation, Core/periphery hierarchy, Core/periphery relations, Cultural evolution, Incorporation, Interregional interaction, Margin, Periphery, Semi-periphery, Social complexity, Trade, World systems theory

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