Immanuel Wallerstein on Theory & Sociology
Immanuel Wallerstein is a U.S sociologist and historical social scientist. He is most famous for his contributions to the field of analysis that would come to be called World-System Theory alongside Andre Gunder Frank, Terence Hopkins, Samir Amin, and Giovanni Arrighi. His though has been influenced by Marxism, Fernand Braudel, dependency theory and the world revolutionary upsurge of 1968. He is the author of the multi-volume The Modern World-System series of books, as well as World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction, Historical Capitalism and many others.
Like other Marxists Wallerstein accept the prediction that capitalism will be replaced by a socialism, as well as the emphasis on underlying economic factors and their dominance over ideological factors, the dichotomy between capital and labour, belief in the accumulation of capital, dialectics etc. However, unlike most Marxists Wallerstein breaks with the notion that development of the parasitic capitalist world economy was progressive universally, but rather was detrimental to most of the world’s population. As he said in his classic essay Historical Capitalism:
It is simply not true that capitalism as a historical system has represented progress over the various previous historical systems that it destroyed or transformed. Even as I write this, I feel the tremour that accompanies the sense of blasphemy. I fear the wrath of the gods, for I have been moulded in the same ideological forge as all my compeers and have worshipped at the same shrines.
Below I have posted video excerpts from an interview with Wallerstein as an introduction to his thought.