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Volume 20, 2004

World-System Analysis: Contemporary Research and Directions

Göran Therborn
Pages 46-68

Culture as a World System

This article attempts to come to grips with the lack of a systematically argued “systemness” in world-systems analysis and with a reductionism regarding the multidimensionality of world-system relations. In addressing these issues, systemness is taken as a contingent variable and a case made for distinguishing at least five major interconnected and interacting human world systems, that, however, are not reducible to one another. From this perspective, the world system of culture is singled out and illustrative examples of the relationships between religious identities, family structures, cognitive and symbolic forms, and high and popular culture on a global scale are examined to highlight the contradictions of hegemony and resistance in the contemporary world.