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date: 23 February 2019

Summary and Keywords

The global world system is essentially comprised of a variety of complex intraorganizational and interorganizational networks (or “webs”) intersecting with geographical networks structured around interconnected clusters of socioeconomic activity. These networks undergo major transformations as a result of technological innovations, especially in transportation and communication technologies. The advent of the information age raises a host of questions regarding the current and possible future development of the world system; for example, whether the evolution of the world system has come to a halt; how new, and especially digital, technologies (including information and communication technology) affect the system’s future development and structure; or whether systemic leadership continues to exert itself in a similar fashion as in the past. To put these questions in a proper perspective, it is necessary to understand the structural formation and development of the world system, with a special focus on the type of linkages (or networks) that mark the development of the world system as a global “web of webs,” along with the role of information in this development. Another debate revolves around the meaning of what constitutes power that would enable a state to exert influence over others. In this context, two themes are of interest: the effects of complex interdependencies on the rules of engagement in a new, transforming and globalizing new world system, and the rise of regional powers rather than the question of a possible challenge to the old hegemonic power status of the United States.

Keywords: world system, networks, transportation, communication, information age, information and communication technology, systemic leadership, web of webs, power, regional powers

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