Although the sociological discipline has produced a rich literature on globalization during the past half-century, sociologists are no closer today to agreeing on the causes of trade globalization than they were in decades past. Thus, the main purpose of this dissertation is to study the causes of trade globalization from a political-economy and world-systems approach through an empirical assessment of the main sociological theories of globalization: network society, global capitalism, world-system, and world polity.
The empirical evidence shows that the network society, world-system, and world polity approaches, provide the most consistent explanation of trade globalization. That is, the fluctuations in trade integration experienced since the early-1800s is largely the result of: advancements in technology and their ability to decrease the cost of freight; the geopolitical stability and free trade policies endorsed by hegemonic nation-states; and the expansion of influential international governmental organizations (IGOs) such as the
United Nations and its propensity to decrease uncertainty and malfeasance by fostering trust, empathy, and sympathy, between states.
In addition, the debate between world-system and world polity theories is given particular attention given the heated nature of the debate. The evidence shows that the effect of hegemony on trade globalization does not decrease during the postwar period as suggested by world polity theorists. Instead, the world-system perspective offers the most consistent and robust explanation of trade globalization regardless of the time-period examined. Additionally, the effect of IGOs on trade does not increase after World War II as argued by students of the world polity perspective. Contrary to their assertions, the expansion of IGOs is not found to be an important predictor of trade globalization.