My objective here is to offer as theoretical reflection a ‘big picture’, that is, a macrostructural perspective through which to approach the theme of elites and development. A genealogy of inquiry into global inequalities and development in the modern era is a study in the original and evolution of the critique of capitalism and the distinct social forces and class agents that this system generates. Hence, how we conceptualise the role of elites in development will be tied to how we analyse capitalism as a world system and more specifically how we analyse its distinct social forces and class agents. In a nutshell, I suggest that globalisation represents a new epoch in the ongoing evolution of world capitalism distinguished by the rise of a globally integrated production and financial system, an emergent transnational capitalist class and incipient transnational state apparatuses. Structural changes in the world economy associated with globalisation have contributed to a new fractionation among elites in the former Third World between nationally oriented and transnationally oriented groups. These two overlapping yet often competing sets of elites pursued distinct development strategies in the late twentieth and the early twenty-first centuries. The former sought to build up national circuits of accumulation while the latter sought to integrate local circuits into new transnational circuits of accumulation. These contrasting strategies for development involved distinct sets of policies: the one, policies that would protect local agents from global competition; the other, policies that integrate local agents into emergent transnational circuits.
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- Global Capitalism Theory and the Emergence of Transnational Elites
William I. Robinson
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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