The World-System in 2025

Term Paper, 2007

29 Pages, Grade: A



1. Introduction

2. Division of Labour in the World System

3. Trends
A) The loss of sovereignty
1a) Multilateralism
2a) International Institutions and Regional Blocs
3a) Loss of Monopoly on Violence
4a) Impact on Division of Labour
B) Trends in knowledge and technology
1b) Military Technology
2b) The Network Society
3b) Intellectual Property Rights
4b) Impact on Division of Labou
C) Globalisation vs Identity
1c) Nationalism
2c) Tribalism
3c) Impact on Division of Labour
D) Growing population
1d) Urbanization
2d) Water Wars
3d) New Epidemics
4d) Impact on Division of Labour
E) The Changing Economy
1e) The Rise of China and India
2e) A Revolt against Neoliberalism
3e) An Ageing Population
4e) Rising Inequality
5e) Impact on Division of Labour

4. Structure of World System in 2025
a) A System in Crisis?

5. Hegemony in the World System
a) The Concept of Hegemony
b) The Theory of Hegemonic Stability
c) Will 2025 usher in a new hegemon?

6. The United States

7. China
a) Economic Growth
b) Military Growth
c) Will China emerge on top by 2025? It has three obstacles

8. India

9. Japan

10. The European Union

11. A Multipolar system

12. Conclusion

13. Bibliography

1. Introduction

The primary aim of this paper is to provide a detailed analysis of the manner in which important current trends will shape the future of the division of labour and the world system as a whole. The implications of the major political (loss of sovereignty), technological, cultural (globalisation vs. identity), environmental (population growth) and economic trends that the current generation faces will be considered; thereafter looking at its impact on the global division of labour.

This will be followed by a thorough analysis of what the nature and structure of the world system will look like in 2025. The paper will end off with a prediction of what the balance of power in the system will be around this time, looking at several candidates for possible hegemony.

The argument posed in this essay is that the world system is undergoing a transitional phase, whereby the system could potentially collapse and be replaced by another one, although this is not likely to occur as early as 2025. The other argument is that the ushering in of a new hegemon is a lengthy process, one that will probably not have taken root by this time; thus 2025 will almost certainly be characterized by a multipolar system.

2. Division of Labour in the World System

The division of labour within the world system consists of the core, semi-peripheral, and peripheral zones. The semi-periphery lies in between the core and periphery, stabilising the capitalist world economy. The strengthening of the core results in the weakening of the periphery. The semi-periphery exploits the periphery and is exploited by the core, thus creating stability because the core is not faced with a unified resistance. (Wallerstein, 2000:88-90)

The core nations direct global production through their economic strength. Peripheral countries, in contrast, have weak economies and rely on the exports of primary products. They experience widespread poverty, high population growth, environmental degradation, and possess a low level of technology. These conditions are not favourable for mobility in the world system. Semi-peripheral countries share aspects of the core and the periphery. It dominates the periphery through the exchange of finished goods for raw material products; and is dominated by the core through its need for investment. These countries undergo a process of rapid industrialization and possess a relatively high level of technology (Burns et al, 2000).

The core countries include the United States, Western Europe, and Japan; with South Korea and Singapore not far behind. Semi-peripheral states include the majority of those from Southeast Asia, Latin America and central Europe. The rest of the world is peripheral, with China and India being the two largest. Despite the relatively high technological advancement in the two countries, Li considers them peripheral because of the sizable wage gap that exists between them and the core states (Li, 2005:431).

3. Trends

A) The loss of sovereignty

What is specific to the capitalist state is that it absorbs social time and space, sets up the matrices of time and space, and monopolizes the organization of time and space that become, by the action of the state, networks of domination and power.

~ Nicos Poulantzas (Castells, 2004:303)

A major political trend is the nation-state’s gradual loss of sovereignty. According to Manuel Castells, today’s nation-state is losing more and more control over space and time. This control is bypassed by global flows of capital, technology, services, goods, information and communication (Castells, 2004:303). Plural identities are increasingly undermining the state’s use of tradition and national identity to capture historical time. A further loss of sovereignty has been suffered by the state in its effort to regain its power in the international arena through supranational institutions. The reemergence of nationalist ideologies and the flourishing of global capitalism have resulted in a loss of power for the nation-state, but it has not translated into a loss in its influence. (Castells, 2004:303)

1a) Multilateralism

Joseph Nye states that in an increasingly multilateral world, dealing with inherently multilateral issues, states are unable to act on their own anymore in the international system. Multilateral interdependence between nation-states has been on the increase since the conclusion of the Cold War (Castells, 2004:323-324).

Some states have tried to oppose the trend toward multilateralism, in an attempt to remain sovereign, by using their power to pursue unilateral interests multilaterally. It is no surprise that the United States poses the greatest threat to multilateralism, particularly after September 11. They are able to do this because they are the only military superpower, are the driving force behind technological innovation and knowledge production, as well as being the second largest economic area on the planet. (Castells, 2004:325)

Science and technology has raised awareness regarding environmental degradation, placing increasing pressure on governments to take action. Individual nation-states cannot combat issues like global warming, the depletion of life in the oceans, deforestation, and the ozone layer, on their own. (Castells, 2004:327)

There have been very few joint action programs purely because nation-states serve their own interests as well as those of its most important constituents. There is a growing sense of frustration as a result of the state’s political weakness, whereby it places its own interests ahead of the supervision of global public goods. To overcome their weaknesses states have started to align together, taking the form of international institutions and regional blocs. (Castells, 2004:328)

2a) International Institutions and Regional Blocs

European integration in the mid-1980s came about because of business and political interests, whereby large European firms wanted to compete with their Japanese and US counterparts, and where state elites sought to regain a portion of their political sovereignty at the national level after it had been in decline due to increasing international interdependence. The intention was not to build a European federal state but to create a political cartel whereby European nation-states could regain a portion of their sovereignty and to share the benefits among themselves. Castells argues that this is the era of the super nation-state, not one of supranationality and global governance. The same applies to international institutions; such as the UN, WTO, World Bank, ASEAN, OAU; that are responsible for the management of the economy, of the environment, of development, and of security (Castells, 2004:329).

Global governance as fully shared sovereignty is unlikely in spite of the increasing internationalization of state policies. Instead, global governance is seen as a coming together of national governments’ interests and policies. Sovereignty is not easily given up, unless there is something to gain. Even opinion polls have found that complete integration in a supranational, federal state would not prove popular in the least, perhaps dispelling the Marxian notion of the identification with class over identification with the state (Castells, 2004:330).

Civil societies have risen in prominence, acting on a global scale through NGOs, in response to the inability of the state to deal with global problems. The efforts of NGOs such as OXFAM, Greenpeace and Amnesty International, have often dwarfed those of government-sponsored international efforts. The importance and necessity of the nation-state comes into question again with the “privatization” of global humanitarianism (Castells, 2004:330).

3a) Loss of Monopoly on Violence

The nation-state is losing its monopoly on violence which is being threatened by transnational networks of terrorism and communal groups resorting to suicidal violence. The state faces a major problem when communal gangs rise up against it. If it chooses not to use violence it will compromise itself as a state. If it chooses to use it, on the other hand, the state will lose much of its legitimacy and resources, leaving it in a constant state of emergency. Castells argues that violence will only be the state’s best option when its survival is at stake (Castells, 2004:343).

4a) Impact on Division of Labour The decline in sovereignty of the nation-state, shifting its base to international institutions, will have positive and negative effects for the periphery. The positive aspect is represented by the growing role played by NGOs who can assist poorer nations with their social responsibilities. The negative side lies in the growing ability of international institutions to set the rules of the game in the world system, whether it is economic, political or legal. The core and semi-peripheral countries are set to benefit from international institutions, as they support the neoliberal ideal of an open economy. No one in the global division of labour will find the loss of the monopoly on violence favourable.

B) Trends in knowledge and technology

The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.

~ Winston Churchill

1b) Military Technology

With the exception of the United States, countries are increasingly dependent each other for their security. This has been brought about by changes in military technology, where electronics and communications technology are central to modern day warfare. Although conventional warfare has always relied on technology, it is the rate of technological change as well as the need for personnel that possess the knowledge to utilize this technology that makes the current period different (Castells, 2004: 325).

As a result the size of standing armies loses its importance, in relation to the quality of personnel and access to new technology, which can be seen in the cases of Singapore and Israel. The result is that global supply networks are expanding as countries industrialize and technology diffuses. What makes this period significant is that, with the exception of the United States, no country is self-sufficient in the production of warfare equipment. The US, being technologically self-sufficient, can be classified as the only true superpower (Castells, 2004:326). Even though access to cutting-edge technology gives richer and more powerful states an advantage over others, it can be eliminated by what Castells refers to as “veto technologies,” namely, weapons of mass destruction (Castells, 2004:327).

2b) The Network Society Dixon believes that the future possibilities brought about through networking are still in the elementary stages. The internet will transform the lives of people in urban as well as in rural areas. It is still primitive and the world will begin to see its true potential in the fifteen to twenty years. The world will be separated into two groups, the information haves and the information have-nots. Countries will be segregated internally by these two groups and their future prosperity will depend on the proportion of haves and have-nots (Dixon, 1999:16-23).

3b) Intellectual Property Rights Never before has the access to and control of knowledge and technology been as important as it is today. It is playing an increasingly vital role in the international political economy, as the source of wealth and power of all its actors. With this comes a natural desire to want to protect these resources. Measures have been put into place, known as intellectual property rights, to help control the access to new knowledge and technology.

Knowledge and technology have impacted society in three ways. Firstly, it has become a means to acquire wealth and power, as it influences both the economic and political spheres (Balaam and Veseth, 2001: 209). Secondly, technological innovation has become vital in keeping the competitive edge, which has resulted in the drastic increase in the pace of technological change. Finally, due to the computer and communications revolutions, information and data can reach the corners of the earth within seconds (Balaam and Veseth, 2001: 210).

4b) Impact on Division of Labour Intellectual Property Rights, the internet, and advances in military technology will most likely entrench differences between the three levels in the global division of labour structure. It will cement the positions of the haves and have-nots in the world system, raising the importance of keeping up with new technology. An interesting development is the possibility of accessing veto technologies, i.e. nuclear weapons, which ensures that, for the first time, peripheral countries can be seen as a security threat to core countries.


Excerpt out of 29 pages


The World-System in 2025
Stellenbosch Universitiy
Comparative Political Economy
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
587 KB
World-System, Comparative, Political, Economy
Quote paper
M.A. Michael Ferendinos (Author), 2007, The World-System in 2025, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The World-System in 2025

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free