Questioning Geopolitics: Political Projects in a Changing World-System

By Georgi M. Derluguian; Scott L. Greer | Go to book overview

3
Stateness and System in the Global
Structure of Trade: A Network
Approach to Assessing Nation Status

Michael Alan Sacks, Marc Ventresca, and
Brian Uzzi
1

Global stratification of states and nations is a much debated feature of the contemporary world system. Business analysts and many international scholars have advocated comparative advantage as the tool for analyzing variations and dynamics of outcomes such as nation status. This type of analysis highlights the importance of factors internal to a nation and stresses factors such as modernization level, educational training of citizens, and investments in domestic capital as determinants of national prosperity. World-system theories stress a global embeddedness approach to investigating nation status, highlighting how historical contingency and position in the global political economy impact nation status and other outcomes of interest.

More recently, the argument that the structure of global trade patterns economic outcomes reinforces a central claim of contemporary economic sociology regarding the embedded nature of economic activity ( Coleman, 1990; Granovetter , 1985). In this view, dynamics of behavior and relationships create a structure that at times helps or hinders actors' ability to be economically successful. Thus, two actors with comparable resources and internal attributes will receive different rates of return because of their positions in a web of exchanges that affects the process of trading ( DiTomaso, 1982; Miller, 1980).

We apply this embeddedness approach to understand the trade dynamics of the world system. In this chapter, we test empirically these perspectives in three time periods, 1965, 1970, and 1980, to show the impact of system and stateness on standard indicators of national prosperity. This chapter reports original theoretical arguments and evidence about state and system-based factors affecting nation status, building on initial findings from our work on the contingent effects

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