In the theoretical debates about the internationalisation of capital which have dominated the recent sociological research agenda, much of the argument has focused around distinctions between the ‘core’ and the ‘periphery’ and between exogenous and endogenous explanations (Boreham et al. 1989). For Wallerstein (1974, 1979) the present world system emerged in the sixteenth century with the discovery of the new world of the Americas and the subsequent development of industrial capitalism. The system was composed of ‘core’ nations which dominated the system, consisting of the first industrial nations of Britain, Netherlands, and France, which were joined in the twentieth century by the USA and Japan. The second group was that of the semi-peripheral nations of Southern Europe around the Mediterranean and linked to the ‘core’ through trading relations and a dependency which limited their internal development, leading to a relatively slow rate of economic and social development. The third was the ‘periphery’, the outer edge of the system, originally Eastern Europe, which sold cash crops to the ‘core’. Finally, beyond these nation states there was the ‘external area’ of Asia and Africa which became incorporated into the ‘periphery’ as colonial expansion took place.