Growth and Regional Development in an Enlarged European Union
Edited by Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell and Peter Mooslechner
Chapter 1: Past convergence within Europe: coreÂ…periphery diversity in modern economic development
1. Past convergence within Europe: core–periphery diversity in modern economic development Ivan T. Berend The existence of diversity among European countries goes back to the early history of the continent. It was characteristic of the medieval centuries, when great diﬀerences were already apparent between the Christian-feudal West and the barbarian peripheries and frontier regions. A proper core–periphery relationship, however, emerged only with the rise of modern world trade and a modern world system after the discovery of the Americas. North-western Europe became the core of a rapidly expanding Atlantic trade system, based on the production of mass consumption goods, accumulation of capital, and proto-industrialization, which went hand in hand with the gradual dissolution of feudal ties, the development of a pluralistic society and the rise of the absolute state. This area consequently became the birthplace of merchant capitalism, and subsequently the industrial revolution. The peripheries, that is the Mediterranean, Nordic and Central Eastern European countries, continued to preserve their traditional structures and institutions and became suppliers of nonprocessed agricultural products and raw materials for the core countries. They became part of the rising capitalist world system but with an inferior status, mostly subordinated to the West, and in some cases a re-feudalized social system (Wallerstein 1974; Pach 1994). Most of them were targets of foreign invasion and occupation, lost their independence and became part of huge multi-ethnic empires. Thus socioeconomic and political conditions in the European core on the one hand and the peripheries on the other...
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