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The Globalization and Development Reader: Perspectives on Development and Global Change, 2nd Edition by Nitsan Chorev, Amy Bellone Hite, J. Timmons Roberts

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Introduction

What are the forces that drive society to change? Marx and Weber saw ample evidence that capitalism was an enormously powerful, efficient force capable of producing unprecedented wealth; alongside this evidence, however, there was competing evidence of the poverty, social upheaval, inequality, and political crisis it seemed to bring. It was trying to understand these contradictions and consequences of capitalism that drove the theories of the “formative” authors represented in this section. In the interests of expanding the variety of perspectives on globalization in this volume, the selection here is admittedly quite brief. Nonetheless, what follows demonstrates the distinctiveness of both Marx (and Engels) and Weber’s theories, as well as their most notable conceptualizations about the relationship between social and economic change. The latter four selections are North Americans writing almost a century later and expressing views on the relationship between social and economic change, albeit from a very different perspective.

Karl Marx (1818–83), known as a historical materialist, once wrote: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.”1 For Friedrich Engels (1820–95) and Marx, the point in studying history was not just memorizing the details of individuals or their actions, but understanding ...

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