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Exerpt from the Fernand Braudel Centre.
by Adam Starr
13 March 2002 22:30 UTC
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Hello WSN World,

I found the following from the Fernand Braudel Centre.
It is one of ten points that the centre (headed by
Wallerstein) has chosen to research with regards to
World-System analysis. I found it interesting and feel
it is relevant to my position. For those of you that
are curious to see more, check out:
www.fbc.binghampton.edu/index.htm .


6) Antisystemic movements.

We mean by antisystemic movements all those movements
organized by persons who seek to transform the
world-system in a more democratic, more egalitarian
direction. This has included movements of the working
classes, nationalist and/or ethnic movements, womens'
movements, and a variety of other kinds of movements.
The concept is an inclusive one in terms of the social
composition of the movements and their primary locus
of concern, but it is an exclusive one as well,
seeking to omit movements narrowly focussed on the
ascending of the stratification ladder by some
particular group. 

For a number of years, the Center has been producing
papers, written jointly by Giovanni Arrighi, Terence
K. Hopkins, and Immanuel Wallerstein, which aim at a
theoretical rethinking of this field. Most of these
papers have been presented at various meetings of the
ICWE, and then published in Review. These papers have
been collected and were published in 1989 by Verso
Press under the title Antisystemic Movements.
Translations of the book are in progress into Italian,
Japanese, and Turkish. 

The principal research focus has been to explain the
variation of intensity of labor unrest in different
regions of the world-system and at different moments
of its cyclical rhythms. The initial problem of the
World Labor group, which is working on this question,
was how to obtain reliable and comparable measures of
labor unrest on a worldwide basis and over a 100-year
period. An initial survey of the existing quantitative
data (principally strike data) indicated that they
were not very useful for this purpose since they were
inevitably incomplete (and in a biased way), both
geographically and temporally. Furthermore, strikes
were in fact only one manifestation of labor unrest,
and quite often not even the most significant one. 

The group invented an alternative data source based on
a content analysis of newspaper reports of labor
unrest anywhere in the world that were published in
The New York Times and The Times (London) from 1870
on. The two newspapers were chosen on the grounds that
they were the principal organs of the successive
hegemonic powers and were likely to be reasonably
comprehensive in coverage. A data base of over 75,000
entries has been compiled. The reliability (and degree
of bias) of these data have been tested by comparisons
with strike statistics for countries that have
official statistics, and by comparisons with secondary
literature concerning various other countries and
regions of the world. 

We are concerned to relate the incidence of labor
unrest to cyclical rhythms of the world-economy,
particularly to cycles of hegemony and rivalry. We
believe the pattern is that upswings of labor unrest
in core regions have led, over time, to similar up
swings in peripheral regions (even when those in the
core regions have died down). We further argue that
the extent and effective ness of labor unrest have
been determined primarily by structural/positional
conditions more than by organizational capacities or
ideologies. The role of labor unions and working-class
parties in initiating and organizing acts of protest
is postulated in most cases either to have reflected
structural/positional circumstances or to have served
as an "intervening mechanism" connecting such
circumstances to demonstrations of labor unrest. 

This research has been presented over the years at
many conferences, including a series of bilateral
conferences between 1980 and 1987 with the Institute
of International Labour Studies of the U.S.S.R.
Academy of Sciences, as well as at the successive
International Forums on the History of the Labor
Movement and the Working Class (1985, 1991). Two
volumes of papers have been produced: Immanuel
Wallerstein, ed., Labor in the World Social Structure
(Sage, 1983), and Melvyn Dubofsky, ed., Technological
Change and Workers' Movements (Sage, 1985). The
preliminary findings of the labor unrest project will
be presented in a forthcoming special issue of Review.

Adam T. Starr
Undergraduate of Political Science, UVic
3009 Quadra Street, Victoria, British Columbia
V8T 4G2 Canada
(011) (250) 472-1223
adam@hornbyisland.com or reunitedhornby@yahoo.com

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