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Giovanni Arrighi: Systemic Cycles of Accumulation, Hegemonic Transitions, and the Rise of China

  • Author(s): Robinson, William I.
  • et al.
Abstract

This article surveys and critically assesses the life work of Giovanni Arrighi, a renowned historical sociologist and world-systems scholar who passed away in 2009. In a trilogy of books published between 1994 and 2007 Arrighi develops the master concept of his theoretical legacy, systemic cycles of accumulation, and advances an original reading of the history and dynamics of world capitalism as a succession of hegemonic episodes, each one more expansive than the previous and culminating in crises and chaotic transitions. He anticipated the rise of a Chinese-led East Asia as the emergent twenty-first century centre of a reorganised world economy and society. Arrighi is faulted for failing to develop any theory of politics, the state and collective agency in his construct, for his lack of attention to social forces from below, and for his dismissal of recent theorising on globalization.

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