Russian World-Systems Analysis School

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= Jack Goldstone calls it the Russian global-historical systems school, and credits them with a synthesis of the great debate around the Great Divergence vs the Great Convergence, which is about the reasons for the Rise of the West [1]


Evolution of this 'research' movement and their publication program

Andrey Korotayev et al. :

"The first edition of Alternatives of Social Evolution was published over ten years ago, in 2000, in two languages, English and Russian ... It was the response of the then young generation of post-Soviet anthropologists in league with prominent Western and Russian scholars to dogmatic Marxist interpretations of older, Soviet ethnologists and archaeologists. Several other collective edited volumes, monographs and journal articles have appeared since then. Five “Hierarchy and Power in the History of Civilizations” international conferences held in Moscow and St. Petersburg between 2000 and 2009 turned out very important for elaboration of the non-linear socio-cultural evolution theory. The Social Evolution & History English-language journal published in Russia since 2002 has become a venue for discussion of the non-linear evolution theory, ideas and evidence related to it. In particular, besides an impressive number of separate articles, the following special issues and sections, among others, have been published in it:

  • Exploring the Horizons of Big History (2005, Vol. 4, No 1),
  • Thirty Years of Early State Research (2008, Vol. 7, No1),
  • The Early State in Anthropological Theory (2009, Vol.8, No 1),
  • Analyses of Cultural Evolution (2009, Vol. 8, No 2),
  • Urbanization, Regional Diversity and the Problem of State Formation in Europe (2010, Vol. 9, No 2).

One more discussion, Chiefdoms in the process of social evolution: theory, problems and comparative studies, is to appear in the Journal soon."


Contextual Quotes

“Within the framework of the analyses of the World System future development Russian political Globalistics analysts attempt to answer the following questions:

  • What are the implications of the economic weakening of the USA as the World System center?
  • Will the future World System have a leader?
  • Will it experience a global governance deficit?
  • Will world fragmentation increase?

They analyze some crucial events of the present, which could be regarded as precursors of forthcoming fundamental changes. They analyze some crucial events of the present, which could be regarded as precursors of forthcoming fundamental changes (see below). They also consider some global scenarios of the World System's near future. During the struggle for a place in organizing and operating the new world order, an epoch of new coalitions will come, which will outline the contours of a new political landscape for a considerably long period. Probably, for some time the mobility of partnerships within the World System will increase, the arising coalitions may turn out to be chimerical, ephemeral, or fantastic. In the course of search for most stable, advantageous, and adequate organizational supranational forms various and even rapidly changing intermediary forms may occur, where the players of the world and regional political arenas will search for most advantageous and convenient blocks and agreements. However, some new unions and associations may eventually turn from temporary into constant ones and take specific supranational forms. So a new world order will gradually be established. “

- Leonid Grinin and Andrej Korotayev [2]

In Defense of Multi-Evolutionism or Non-Linear Evolution Theory

"The notion of evolution is not popular in contemporary Anthropology. Many researchers do not use it preferring to write about transformation, transit, or change. Evolution for them is synonymous to dogmatic understanding of human history (Yoffee 2005; Pauketat 2008). However, even critics of evolutionism do not appear to reject the very fact of continuous social change. In prehistory people were hunters and gatherers and were integrated in small bands. Later some of them experienced sedentarization and transition to food production, began to found towns and invent complex tools. It would be ridiculous to reject such changes. Another point is that contemporary vision of cultural transformations differs greatly from the naïve ideas of the 19th century evolutionists (see, e.g., Earle 2002; Claessen 2000; Carneiro 2003, Marcus 2008; Hanks, Lin-duff 2009; Earle, Kristiansen 2010 etc.). Contemporary approaches are more flexible and are based on a much more considerable set of evidence. That is why it would be wrong to criticize the scholars of the past for their knowledge of something worse than ours. They ought to be estimated in comparison with their contemporaries. So, we believe that the notion of evolution has a right to exist, and for already several decades we have been elaborating the ideas that can be called “new wave evolutionism”, or Multi-Evolutionism or Non-Linear Evolution Theory)."

- A_Korotayev_and_D_Bondarenko et al. [3]

Directory of Publications

of articles and materials in our wiki:

(status: add works by Korotayev and Turchin)


World Systems Evolution

The State and Social Hierarchy



Topics / Articles / Chapters



The State and its Forms