The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism

Living Edition
| Editors: Immanuel Ness, Zak Cope

Stratification in the World-Economy: Semiperiphery and Periphery

  • Marilyn Grell-BriskEmail author
Living reference work entry


The idea that we live in a highly unequal global political economy is hardly insightful; yet, the suggestion that given its mode of accumulation the modern capitalist world-system cannot exist without this inequality might seem controversial. Still, the exploitative practices of those at the top (core) of the world-system hierarchy, on those at the very bottom (periphery) and middle (semiperiphery) are hard to ignore. In the world-system, core countries benefit the greatest from the surplus derived from global commodity chains while peripheral zones see no benefit. The economic activities of core countries are capital-intensive as opposed to the labor-intensive ones of peripheral areas. Factoring into this, is the fact that the core countries engage in reproductive accumulative strategies compared to the primary accumulation strategies of the periphery.

However, conceptualizing the modern capitalist world-system in terms of core-periphery can be misleading as it overlooks...
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© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Research on World-SystemsUniversity of California, RiversideRiversideUSA