The Modern World-System and Evolution

Immanuel Wallerstein

Abstract


The concept of evolution is ambiguous. Sometimes it only means those changes that have historically ocurred. In other cases it has a more teleological aspect, as in the claim that acorns evolve into oaks. In that meaning, the end result is the normal outcome of a pattern inscribed in the inner structure of the entity under discussion... I consider it important to distinguish three processes in the historical life of of any system: its genesis; its relatively long period of normal functioning; and its demise (the result of birfurcation), which can also be thought of as the period of transition to a new historical system or systems. It is only about the period of normal functioning that it seems useful to apply the term of evolution, and it is to this period that I shall restrict the discussion.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.1995.46

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