ABSTRACT

In the critique of modernization theory, both dependency and world-system perspectives emphasized the relative stability and reproduction of existing global hierarchies and inequalities. This chapter provides an alternative explanation for these contemporary transformations in the global hierarchy of wealth. Instead of seeing contemporary trends as evidence for modernization theory or a complete rupture from long historical dynamics of capitalism that produced the Great Divergence between West and East, the analysis demonstrates that these contemporary trends have interesting similarities with historical trends of the Great Divergence itself. The chapter expresses that changes in the global hierarchy of wealth have been characterized by a series of great divergences in the longue durée, from the sixteenth century to the present. Since the 1990s—namely the rise of China, India, and a cluster of peripheral countries from the Global South—is not a Great Convergence but another Great Divergence process linked to US-led financialization and the current crisis of capitalism.