Centre-Periphery Model

The concept of the "Centre-Periphery Model" is a representation of the distinction between the world into countries that are dominant, primarily industrial and capitalist, and other countries, primarily in the third world, that is weaker economically and politically. 
Centre-Periphery Model Sociology Definition


The concept of the “Centre-Periphery Model” is a representation of the distinction between the world into countries that are dominant, primarily industrial and capitalist, and other countries, primarily in the third world, that is weaker economically and politically.


Centre-Periphery Model – Wallerstein

The center-periphery model, also known as the core-periphery model, is a spatial metaphor that describes and makes an attempt to illustrate the structural relationship between an innovative or metropolitan “center” and a less developed “periphery,” either within a given nation or as it relates to the relationship between capitalist and evolving societies. Political dynamics, political sociology, and employment market research frequently employ the old terminology.

Wallerstein (1974) contended that a capitalist world framework emerged from the sixteenth century onwards, with England, France, and the Netherlands as the core nations with powerful central political structures and mercantile economies. 

Although the terms have widespread usage in sociology and varied history, they are most frequently associated with Wallerstein and the world systems approach. Other nations are brought under the control of the core by providing cheap labor, most often in the form of slavery or financial indebtedness.  These developed into peripheral nations, providing the core’s wealthy traders with luxury products, food, and raw resources.

Sociological studies

However, in sociology, economic reliance and underdevelopment investigations are more likely to use the centre-periphery model, which often rely on the Marxist analytic tradition. The global production and distribution system is assumed to be the unit of study when the centre-periphery model is used in this context. It also implies that underdevelopment is a notion anchored in an overarching ideology of imperialism rather than just a descriptive phrase used to describe a traditional, backward economy.

According to the center-periphery paradigm, underdevelopment is created as an unavoidable byproduct of the development of capitalism in the core capitalist countries—and its ongoing replication on a global scale. It is not the outcome of tradition. The theory assumes that there is a central core of capitalist nations, where market forces dominate the economy, a large proportion of organic capital, and wage levels are generally high. 

On the other hand, wages in the periphery do not cover the cost of labor reproduction, and there is a low organic composition of capital. Non-capitalist economies, particularly rural subsistence production, may subsidize the cost of labor force reproduction. Like core economies, peripheral economies may significantly influence non-market factors like kinfolk or patron-client relationships on production and distribution.

Thus, according to the centre-periphery model, the world economy is defined by a hierarchical connection between economic cores that use their leverage in the realms of commerce, politics, and the military to extract economic surpluses from the peripheral nations they control. The disparity in wage levels between the core and the periphery, which makes it advantageous for capitalist firms to locate some or all of their output in undeveloped areas, is a significant contributing element to this. Profit extraction relies on the non-capitalist sector covering the portion of the cost of labor force reproduction that is not covered by wages. 

The core-periphery model’s proponents argue that this conceals the structural relationship by which capital evolves and flourishes at the cost of increasing the underdevelopment of non-capitalist economies, giving the impression that capitalism is advancing traditional and backward societies by locating businesses in underdeveloped areas.

Semi -periphery

Later, Wallerstein and others adopted the idea of the semi-periphery to define those nations that had some degree of industrialization by the 20th century, were less dependent on the economics of the core and had some degree of political institutionalization, civic and political organization. Most nations in southern Europe, several in Latin America, including Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, and some in Asia, including South Korea, have been considered semi-peripheral.


The centre-periphery model has generated two key discussions.

1. The first entails the development of a theory of production modes, which aims to conceptualize various economic forms in terms of how production and distribution relate to one another in each mode. 

2. The other looks at the articulation of various forms of production to pinpoint the precise connections between specific parts of the centre and periphery. 

Both arguments may often come out as being too theoretical or, at the very least, having little practical use.

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