ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Studying Third World through Western Categories

Western Categories GPD China, Iran and the Persian Gulf by A H H Abidi; Radiant Publishers,
rigour. This progress, in turn, has been made possible partly because it has succeeded in drawing upon the concept of equilibrium. We know, equilibrium is only a logical construct, a convenient frame of reference, with little claim as an approximation to reality. But it is a powerful instrument of enquiry. Once admitted, it allows us to raise a variety of issues such as short run and long run, stability and instability, statics and dynamics, com- parative statics and comparative dynamics. It is perhaps not possible to fully apply this type of method in, say, history, sociology, or anthropology. But it is gaining entry into areas like political science and international relations. In any case, this leads us to make the following point. Unless a line of research is built upon certain fundamental postulates about the 'behaviour' of the 'basic agents' there is a possibility that all kinds of cliches, preconceived notions and prejudices would rule the roost, for then there is no criterion or rule to weed them out. The universe of discourse in that case suffers from what may be called an 'emptiness', such that 'anything' goes'. The debate breaks into a quarrel even before it is joined. It seems to us the world systems approach, as outlined in this monograph, has the danger of falling into such a conundrum. The world-system is the unit of analysis all right; but what are the 'basic agents' that are making or breaking those commodity chains, drawing and redrawing the division of labour, and all that? Why are they doing all this? What are they trying to maximise or minimise? Or, are they mere robots? Even then, who made the robots, and for what? Unless the research proposal is laid out on such an analytical foundation, I am afraid, 'anything goes

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