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World-systems analysis

Migration A–Z


  1. Thomas D. Hall and P. Nick Kardulias

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm580

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Kardulias, T. D. H. a. P. N. 2013. World-systems analysis. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


Migration has been a key human response to environmental, cultural, social, political, and economic changes. We argue that there is a vital need for a long-term, global perspective on migration. By long-term we mean millennia. We use a world-systems analysis (WSA) to examine how interactions between human societies have engendered population movements for millennia (Chase-Dunn & Hall 1997; Chase-Dunn & Babones 2006; Ritzer 2007). Furthermore, we argue that globalization is not a new phenomenon, but rather an extension of old processes, those of world-system change. Indeed, globalization is often a short-hand term for complex sets of relationships that include acculturation, assimilation, and economic interdependence and transformation, to name a few. We see a need to discuss migration within a world-systemic context for several reasons. First, migration creates ripple effects that are felt over great distances as successive groups move and impinge on other already occupied territories. Second, migration patterns tend to be cyclical. Third, since the creation of the state around 3500 bce, boundaries, frontiers, and ethnic character have become critical identifiers. Vast increases in transportation efficiency have heightened the fluidity of boundaries and complicated the processes of ethnic identification. A world-systems perspective facilitates a comprehensive view of past and current migration, and thus places modern issues in a historical context and discusses what is truly new in contemporary migrations.


  • political economy;
  • capitalism;
  • labor;
  • labor supply;
  • colonialism