Start Encyclopedia69 Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
dictionary -  encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   




  Imperialism (from Latin imperare, ‘to command’), in history and political science, literally refers to the expansion or consolidation of an empire, and to doctrines which support such activities. Empires are characterized by the fact that they are not culturally or territorially contiguous entities, and involve the political domination of some peoples and territories by a core dominant civilization or class. In this sense imperialism is as old as agrarian civilization, and is not yet a purely historical phenomenon. However, all the evidence of this century suggests that nationalism and the democratization of the world are leading to the collapse of the world\'s surviving empires.

The ‘age of imperialism’ is usually more narrowly defined by historians to cover the period from the 16th century, when European powers competed to expand their empires in Africa, the Americas and Asia, until the early 20th century when competition among the imperial powers led to the outbreak of World War I. The imperialism of the Great Powers of this period can be distinguished by two formal types: administrative imperialism, in which outlying regions of the empire were indirectly ruled, and settler colonialism in which settlers held a region for the imperial power.

The academic study of imperialism divides into economic and political schools of thought. Economic theories are primarily Marxist in origin. In their simplest forms they explain empires as driven by the urge to create wealth by force. By contrast some classical Marxists argued that late-19th-and early-20th-century European imperialism was a means of temporarily forestalling the inevitable crises of capitalism by creating new markets and outlets for capital investment a view expounded by Lenin among others. In this perspective imperialism was an outgrowth of monopoly capitalism. Dependency theorists of imperialism, influenced by Marxism, suggest that the uneven nature of capitalist development led to the formation of a core of wealthy and powerful empires which competed for control over the less developed states of the periphery, a process which resulted in the purposeful ‘non-development’ or ‘underdevelopment’ of the peripheral states.

The economic approach to explaining imperial formation is not universally accepted. Others maintain that cultural and political motivations are essential elements in the construction of empires: Joseph Schumpeter, for example, argued that landed aristocracies were far more likely to embrace imperialism than were capitalists. Moreover, a great deal of historical inquiry surrounds the subject of whether or not formal empires ‘paid’; and some maintain that economic explanations fare better in accounting for the decline of empires than they do in interpreting their rise. The political approach to interpreting imperialism emphasizes two features of the latter stages of the ‘age of imperialism’: first, the geopolitical competition among the great powers in the second half of the 19th century which created a race for empire, which had more to do with political and military rivalry than with the need for markets and resources; and second, the problems faced by imperial powers in establishing and maintaining authority in new territories. The difficulty of balancing a costly centralized authority over distant territories with the need to maintain economic and political stability in the centre proves a herculean task for all great imperial powers and is normally the root cause of imperial decline. BO\'L

See also agrarian society; dependency theory.Further reading A. Brewer, Marxist Theories of Imperialism: a Critical Survey; , D.K. Fieldhouse (ed.), The Theory of Capitalist Imperialism; , P. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>
Implicit Definition


Other Terms : Gothic Literature | Comparative-Historical Linguistics | Liberty
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About |
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us