Discovering the Envionment

Albert Bergesen, Laura Parisi


This special issue of JWSR presents new research on the environment from a distinctly world-system perspective. World-system studies have recently discovered the environment. The turn toward the environment in any number of disciplines has resulted in the greening of this and that area of study. Now it is world-system studies turn. It is a little late; but better late than never. Actually, environmental and world-system studies have a great deal to offer each other. For environmental studies the focus upon the world economy as a whole makes a great deal of sense. Industrial plants in one country, or one region of the world may generate acid rain, but it can fall on other countries. The environment knows no political borders, hence a focus upon the world economy rather than the French, American or Brazilian economy, makes more sense. It is also the case that looking for systemic effects of different types of economics and political systems on the environment should follow the general direction of political/economic theory, which has been ratcheting its level of analysis ever upward to include more and more parts of the world as components of a singular world system. In effect, if we now believe that the most primal locus of economic and political process resides at the level of global interactions then to study the effects of political/economic processes upon the environment means studying the dynamics of the world-system. It is somewhat inevitable.

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