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Towards a Structural Analysis of the Second Contradiction of Capitalism

  • Author(s): Vesia, Danielle Jaye
  • Advisor(s): Smith, David A
  • et al.
Abstract

This research models the structure of the global trade network of environmentally destructive industries, namely the trade of natural resources over time. In doing so, it illuminates the social relations embedded within the global distribution of environmental degradation. Chapter 2 presents a comprehensive review of the relevant literature on the relationship between the environment and economic conditions, and builds a theoretical framework for a structural analysis of the second contradiction of capitalism. Chapter 3 presents a network analysis for the structure of the trade of natural resources, showing where the trade of natural resources is centered in the global economy for the years 1970 through 2015. The findings present a structure in which nations traditionally thought of as "core" in the world-system maintain their core status in this structure predicated on the trade of natural resources. Chapter 4 measures the effect of structural conditions in the trade of natural resources on different measures of environmental degradation. The findings show that non-core nations experience worse environmental degradation on measures that are not directly tied to extraction, but do not experience worse environmental degradation on measures that are directly tied to extraction. Chapter 5 explores the relationship between structural changes in the trade of natural resources and economic growth. The findings show that non-core nations experience higher economic growth than core nations, raising the question of whether environmentally degrading extraction is to blame, or if the analysis is capturing embedded political economic relationships in the global economy.

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