Anarchist and Anarchistic Anti-Systemic Movements in World-Systems Perspective

A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Non-State Spaces




anarchism, anarchistic, world-systems, anti-systemic movements, non-state spaces, Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)


While world-systems anti-systemic movement scholarship has briefly acknowledged the existence of anti-state “cultural” movements—namely, autonomous indigenous movements in the periphery and anarchist worker movements in the core and semi-periphery—it relegates them to secondary importance to statist “political” movements. In this paper, we provide an intervention in the world-systems anti-systemic movements literature by centering anti-state movements in our analysis. In order to investigate the mechanisms essential for anti-state, anti-systemic movements over the longue durée of the world-system, we operationalize a qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) using nine cases of non-state spaces from different geographies and historical time periods throughout the world-system. We use a Boolean crisp set, or binary approach, denoting the presence, or absence of factors to determine the pathways that lead to the variation between explicitly anarchist and implicitly anarchistic movements as well as short-term or long-term non-state spaces established by anti-state movements. We find that the core and semi-periphery classification of anarchist movements is false. We also find that non-state spaces succeed when they are not repressed by statist anti-systemic movements or core imperial nation-states. In effect, the anti-systemic political actor replicates the logic of the core nation-state it claims to be opposed to when it comes to its repression of non-state spaces and movements. Prior to the “liberal geoculture” (1848–1968), even core states had difficulty repressing non-state spaces, and after the liberal geoculture semi-periphery and periphery states have had difficulty repressing non-state spaces.

Author Biographies

Spencer Louis Potiker, University of California, Irvine

Spencer Louis Potiker is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Global and International Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Spencer’s research interests center Global Political Economy; Labor and Social Movements; Border Studies; Comparative-Historical Sociology; Contentious Politics; Critical Logistics and Supply Chain Studies; Urban and Regional Studies; World-Systems Analysis; Non-State Spaces; Theories from the Global South; and Anarchism and Anarchist Theory.


Dana M. Williams, California State University, Chico

Dana M. Williams is a Professor of Sociology at California State University, Chico and is the author of Black Flags and Social Movements and co-author of Anarchy and Society. Williams's research focuses on social movements, social inequalities (especially race), and socio-political trust.

Jake Alimahomed-Wilson, California State University, Long Beach

Jake Alimahomed-Wilson is a Professor of Sociology at California State University, Long Beach. His research interests are in the areas of logistics, racism and labor, capitalism, and global workers’ struggles. He is the author of Solidarity Forever? Race, Gender, and Unionism in the Ports of Southern California, co-author of Getting the Goods: Ports, Labor, and the Logistics Revolution, and co-editor of Choke Points: Logistics Workers Disrupting the Global Supply Chain. His latest book, The Cost of Free Shipping: Amazon in the Global Economy, co-edited with Ellen Reese, is the winner of the Best Book Award by the United Association for Labor Education (UALE).


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How to Cite

Potiker, S. L., Williams, D., & Alimahomed-Wilson, J. (2022). Anarchist and Anarchistic Anti-Systemic Movements in World-Systems Perspective: A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Non-State Spaces . Journal of World-Systems Research, 28(2), 188–218.