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Re: Do Systems = Structures?
by Boris Stremlin
03 December 2002 05:42 UTC
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On Fri, 29 Nov 2002, Milo Jones wrote:

> Could someone please hazard for me an explanation of whether the
> "Systems" within WST are "Structures" as the term is understood by
> Structuralists?

Not exactly.  For Wallerstein, (historical) systems are entities which are
durable, but which are nevertheless finite, having discernible beginnings
and ends.  This notion of systematicity draws upon Braudel's concepts of
"histoire structurelle" and "longue duree", which are counterposed to the
trans-historical "very long term", "sheltered from accidents, conjunctures
and breakdowns, the time of qualitative mathematics and of Claude
Levi-Strauss" (see Wallerstein, _The Capitalist World Economy_, p.270;
Braudel, _History and the Social Sciences_).  Wallerstein also speaks of
structures (e.g. the "structures of knowledge"), but they are structural
in the Braudelian, not the Levi-Straussian sense.

Having said that, it should be noted that Wallerstein eschews all talk of
a world-systems theory (WST), but many others who use the concept do not
(e.g. Chase-Dunn, but also to some extent Gunder Frank and Arrighi).  Some
of the latter explicitly associate their notions of systematicity with the
"very long term", which would make it closer to the "structures" of

Boris Stremlin

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