Industrial convergence, globalization, and the persistence of the North-South divide

  • Giovanni Arrighi
  • Beverly J. Silver
  • Benjamin D. Brewer


This article demonstrates empirically that widespread convergence in the degree of industrialization between former First and Third World countries over the past four decades hasnot been associated with convergence in the levels of income enjoyed on average by the residents of these two groups of countries. Our findings contradict the widely made claim that the significance of the North-South divide is diminishing. This contention is based on a false identification of “industrialization” with “development” and “industrialized” with “wealthy”. Elaborating from elements of Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of innovation, Raymond Vernon’s product cycle model, and Pierre Bourdieu’s concept ofillusio, the article offers an explanation for the persistence of the North-South income divide, despite rapid Third World industrialization and despite dramatic changes in the world political-ideological context for development (that is, the shift around 1980 from the “development” project to the “globalization” project or “Washington Consensus”). While emphasizing the long-term stability of the Northern-dominated hierarchy of wealth, the article concludes by pointing to several contemporary processes that may destabilize not only the “globalization project”, but also the global hierarchy of wealth that has characterized historical capitalism.


Income Inequality Comparative International Development Competitive Pressure World Country Wealthy Country 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Arrighi
  • Beverly J. Silver
  • Benjamin D. Brewer

There are no affiliations available

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