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Global Stratification

1. What is Global Stratification? please quote from the textbook chapter 9 (see attachment for the book). (1 point)

2. Compare and contrast World System Theory with Neocolonialism. What are some strengths and some weakness of these two theories? Please quote the textbook and apply one theory to a country of your choice. (2 points)

Reply to another student wether you agree or disagree, also add any additional thoughts on the students’ point. (2 pts)

1. Social stratification is defined by the textbook as “the division of large numbers of people into layers according to their relative property, power, and prestige; applies to both nations and to people within a nation, society, or other group” (231). Global stratification is a similar concept at the global level. The textbook states that “just as the people within a nation are stratified by prosperity, power, and prestige, so are the world’s nations” (247). An example is labeling countries as first, second, or third world countries.

World system theory is “a theory of how economic and political connections developed and now tie the world’s countries together” (254). This theory divides nations into four categories: core nations, semiperiphery, periphery, and external area. Neocolonialism is “the economic and political dominance of the Least Industrialized Nations by the Most Industrialized Nations” (257). They are similar in that they both attempt to explain how global stratification came about. They differ in that world system theory explains that some nations developed more economically than others while neocolonialism explains how stronger nations took advantage of weaker nations and subjugated them even more. The strength of neocolonialism may be that it takes a more realistic view of events. The strength of world system theory is that it does not blame any country and simply explains what has happened. Neocolonialism can be applied to Puerto Rico. America first took control of Puerto Rico under the pretense of freeing it from Spain. Puerto Rico remained a U.S. territory but did not enjoy the rights of legal states.

2. Social stratification divides nations and people within those nations into separate groups based on power, wealth, and relative privilege (Henslin 231). At the top, there are groups with power and at the bottom, there are the poor and oftentimes oppressed. Global stratification takes that division of people and brings it to the global scale with entire countries being grouped together. There are three categories: the Most Industrialized Nations, the Industrializing Nations, and the Least Industrialized Nations (Henslin 246). The Most Industrialized Countries have economies based on capitalism and hold the most wealth. The people living in the Industrializing Nations have “much lower incomes and standards of living than those who live in the Most Industrialized Nations” bust still do better than those living in the Least Industrialized Nations who live in poverty (Henslin 250). Henslin also names a fourth group – the oil-rich, nonindustrialized nations. These nations are wealthy due to natural gas resources, but are not industrialized. However, they do have more infrastructure in terms of technological development and resources than the Least Industrialized Nations.

World system theory states that industrialization gave rise to four groups of nations: the core nations which industrialized first and hold the most power; the semiperiphery, whose economies declined due to dependence on trade with the core nations; the periphery, which sold cash crops to the core nations and had less developed economies; and the external area, which were nations left out of the development of capitalism (Henslin 255). A strength of this theory would be that the groups are clearly defined which makes it easier to classify nations. However, a weakness is that the grouping of the nations needs to be updated due to the economies of certain countries changing. For example, eastern Europe and Asia would no longer be considered external area because they are now capitalistic societies. Because so many countries are capitalist today, the “external area” group would be practically irrelevant. Another issue is that since the globalization of capitalism has connected many countries through trade, many countries would have to be reclassified as semiperiphery.

In colonialism, industrialized countries sought to gain economic colonies by physically taking over another nation’s government in order to exploit resources (Henslin 254). In neocolonialism, industrialized countries are not taking over another country’s government through force but use international markets to control them. The Most Industrialized Nations sell goods on credit to the Least Industrialized Nations, which accrue debt and thus force those nations into trading terms decided by the neocolonists (Henslin 257). A strength would be that it is easier to see which countries influence others by gaining information about how much debt one country owes another. On the other hand, if it is difficult to gain access to information about debt owed this could be considered a weakness. Both the world system theory and neocolonialism are similar because they emphasize that “international political arrangements benefit the Most Industrialized Nations at the expense of the poor nations” and does not blame poor nations the way the theory culture of poverty does (Henslin 256). One example of neocolonialism is the African country Congo influenced by Belgium. Even after decolonization and Congo became an independent country, Belgium continued to control a majority of the Congolese economy. Belgian mining companies still had control over certain parts of resource- and mineral-rich provinces of the Congo.

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