For Nature: Deep Greening World-Systems Analysis for the 21st Century


  • Sing S. Chew Humboldt State University



From its conception the world-systems perspective has been preoccupied with the study of long term global transformations (see for ex., Frank 1968, 1979; Wallerstein 1974; Amin 1974; Wolf, 1982; Chase-Dunn 1989; Chase-Dunn and Hall 1992; Kaplan 1978).2. To this extent, the various structural relationships, trends, and cycles of the world system have been identified to explain the processes of global transformation. The varied attempts to pinpoint and analyze these relations, trends, and cycles have been within the context of connections between humans, classes, status groups, industries, regions, and states in the world economy. From an ecological point of view (ontologically and epistemologically), such a manner of understanding change is quite anthropocentric, as global transformation necessitates a changing relationship with Nature. In an era of increasing global concern and awareness of the finite nature of natural resources and the growing realization of the contemporary losses in plant and animal species and the continued susceptibility of the human species to climatological changes and diseases despite various scientific and technological advances, we need to consider that besides social relations and structures, the basis of human reproduction includes our relationships with the non-human world (ecology). World-systems /world system analyses need to move beyond deciphering the processes of global change only through the social (anthropocentric) dimension of the relations underlining these processes. Keeping to just the social relations/structures of the reproduction of the system limits the range of explanations we can provide for global transformation, and also restricts the dimensions whereby the basis for these changes can be explored. This paper is an attempt to introduce the other basic dimension (our relations with Nature) into the overall equation of world-systems/world system analyses for our understanding of global change. Ultimately, it is this Culture/Nature relation along with the dynamics of Nature that in the long run determines the trajectory of the transformation of the world system. The purpose of this paper is to "green" the world-systems/world system analyses to date, and to suggest (ontologically and epistemologically) an ecocentric world system history approach beyond a humanocentric world system history analysis that has been proposed by Frank and Gills (l992(a), l992(b)).




How to Cite

Chew, S. S. . (1997). For Nature: Deep Greening World-Systems Analysis for the 21st Century . Journal of World-Systems Research, 3(3), 381–402.



World-System Studies and the Environment