Development Research Group
The Global Inequality and Development Research Working Group of the Arrighi Center is made up of faculty, post-doctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students. The group is concerned with the theoretical and empirical study of global inequality and development as well as a critical rethinking of dominant models of development. While the ultimate goals may remain the same–i.e., the improvement of individual life chances and the diminishing of global inequality– our understanding of the most effective means for reaching these goals is clearly inadequate.
Building from central analyses originally outlined by Giovanni Arrighi and others, members of the research group are focused on updating and extending prior research on the long-term historical patterning of global inequality and on the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of the dominant postwar development strategies (i.e., industrialization, urbanization and other forms of ‘modernization’). Research is also focused on the implications of the changes over time in the global economic and political context, including the rise of financial capital, changing structures and norms in global governance related to development, and the increasing salience of ecological limits to ‘modernization’ (particularly fossil-fuel intensive industrialization).
Current ongoing research by members of the Research Working Group include:
- An empirical update and extension of Arrighi and Drangel’s (1987) analysis of the persistent ‘trimodal’ structure of the world economy and an investigation of whether recent moves towards narrowing the income gap with rich countries by key peripheral countries (e.g., China) is likely to persist into the future, thus marking a fundamental transformation in the nature of global inequality. Or, alternatively, whether long-run patterns of inequality between the global North and global South are likely to reassert themselves in the near future.
- An update and extension of Arrighi, Silver, and Brewer’s (2003) analysis of the surprising lack of correlation between convergence in income (GNPPC) and industrial convergence (e.g., weight of industrial activities in the GNP) in the postwar era, and how this raises questions for the near universal tendency to equate industrialization and development.
- A critical examination of the connections between economic development, industrialization, urbanization, proletarianization, human welfare and environmental sustainability, including a theoretical and empirical elaboration of the concepts of the “externalization of the costs of reproduction of humans and nature”.