Wallerstein’s World-Systems And Global Stratification

Wallerstein used economic and political factors to study global inequality as the foundation of their world-systems approach. Indeed, the economy is hierarchical when the countries’ development is described; thus, access and use of recourses determine the well-being of the citizens. Wallerstein’s world-systems approach divided the nations as core, semi-peripheral, and peripheral, based on their level of economic development and global influences (Boatcă, 2021). The third type of country is the least influential, with a weak economy and unstable political structure. Consequently, global inequality applies to Wallerstein’s work as places with the highest poverty rates face the most significant challenges in accessing necessary recourses such as home, food, and healthcare.

Global stratification demonstrates how wealth, recourses, and influence are spread among the countries. The fundamental indicators, such as poverty rates, infant mortality, and access to education, display whether a nation has sufficient recourses to maintain healthy and happy populations. Japan, Sweden, and Colombia may be selected as contrasting examples that address global stratification and subsequent inequality. Poverty is the most significant determiner of stratification: in Japan, it is 15%; in Sweden, only 17% of citizens are poor; and in Colombia, the rate is 35% (World Population Review, 2022). Infant mortality indicates a level of healthcare that cannot be high without proper economic development: Japan and Sweden’s rates are around 2%, yet in Colombia, infant deaths occur in 11% of cases (World Population Review, 2022). Lastly, in 2022, in Japan, 50% of the population has higher education; in Sweden, 44%, while in Colombia, the rate is less than 25% (World Population Review, 2022). Global stratification is visible in these countries because Sweden and Japan are developed, and Colombia’s economic conditions are worse.

From a sociological perspective, Wallerstein’s world systems identify that the countries representing the core of the worldwide economy have a privilege in all structures. Aside from political decision-making, these nations’ representatives are the first to access all recourses and have a socially acceptable right to impact political and economic conditions in semi-peripheral and peripheral populations (Mueller & Schmidt, 2020). Societies of the less influential counties are perceived as weaker, and their organic development might be slowed because of the continuous external involvement.


Boatcă, M. (2021). Global inequalities avant la lettre: Immanuel Wallerstein’s contribution. Socio. La Nouvelle Revue Des Sciences Sociales, (15), 71-91.

World Population Review. (2022). Countries.

Mueller, J. C., & Schmidt, S. (2020). Revisiting culture and meaning-making in world-systems analysis: A proposal for engaging with the cultural political economy approach. Critical Sociology, 46(4-5), 711-728.