chapter  3
42 Pages

Theoretical frontiers in world-systems analysis

I summarize and discuss “incorporation” and the “external arena” in the expanding modern worldsystem, and their relationship to the mechanisms of systemic expansion. This fleshes-out the middle ground between Wallerstein’s (1974, 1980, 1989) analysis (European-focused, state-centric, “inside-out”) andHall’s (1986, 1987, 1989, 1998, 1999b, 2000) research on frontiers and incorporation (external, indigenous-oriented, “outside-in”). I add a “zone of ignorance” beyond the external arena that prompts the expansion of the European-centered world-system. Building on ChaseDunn and Hall’s work (1991, 1993, 1997) with nested networks in a world-system, the interaction of the “zone of ignorance”with the “information network” primes the pump of expansion. Myths of riches, luxury goods, and fabulous lands fuel systemic expansion; this is what effectively underwrites the high-cost ventures necessary to extend the European world-system. These myths, misinformation and misperceptions are reflected in historical maps, which also reflect effective political control and the mixture of geographical fact and fantasy. One observes considerable social, cultural and political change prior to the period during which a zone is fully “incorporated.”