World Society, World-Systems Theory and Pesticides

Kristen Shorette (a PhD student at UCI) and Ann Hironaka have a new paper looking at a another dimension of environmental degradation:  agricultural chemicals such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Kristen has spent a fair bit of time thinking about world-system theory, and has brought that to the collaboration.  Their paper joins people like Andrew Jorgenson (at Utah), who are examining both world-system and world society effects on environmental degradation.

Here’s one of their tables of results: Shorette Hironaka Pesticides Table 7.15.10.pdf

As we’ve seen in prior work, global institutions and organizations (e.g., treaties, INGOs) are associated with lower levels of degradation.  But, the effect of world society is less strong in the semi-periphery.  (See the positive interaction in Model 8… which shows that the generally negative effect of world society is a attenuated for the semi-periphery.)

I’ve  been talking with Ann about it.  One option is to tell a loose coupling story.  A variety of factors undermine the link between international pro-environmental institutions and concrete outcomes — such as lack of domestic resources.  Very poor countries often aren’t up to the task of implementing treaties, for instance.

The pressures generated by world-system dynamics may be one more source decoupling that attenuates world society effects.  Though it is interesting to note that the interaction doesn’t actually indicate a positive effect of world society on pesticide use.  The large negative main effect (which corresponds to the reference group) combined with the smaller positive interaction (for the semi-periphery) still yields a negative coefficient — indicating a negative effect of world society on pesticide use in the semi-periphery.


4 thoughts on “World Society, World-Systems Theory and Pesticides

  1. I’d very much like to see this paper! Is there a draft available? On a related note, I wrote a paper with a former student on the effects of primary sector FDI on pesticide use and fertilizer use in LDCs that was published in Social Forces in 2008. Kristen and Ann might find it of interest.
    Andrew Jorgenson

  2. Hi Andrew, nice to hear from you! They have a draft, but I’m not sure whether they are ready to circulate yet or not. I’ll tell them you’d like to see it. Anyhow, I know they cite a bunch of your work, but I’ll mention the 2008 paper in case they missed that one.
    Hope things are well in Utah. Keep in touch!

  3. Thanks for the interest and additional references, this is great. We’ll have a draft ready for circulation within a week or so. I’ll be sure to pass it along.

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