Warfare, Power and Size: Comparing World-Systems

Chris Chase-Dunn, University of California, Riverside
Hiroko Inoue, University of California, Riverside
Levin Welch, University of California, Riverside
Manjing Gao, University of California, Riverside

This study examines the temporal relationships between the growth and decline of cities and empires and changes in the distribution of power among states and changes in the amount of interstate warfare in five whole interstate systems (world-systems) since 2700 BCE. This study uses whole interpolity systems as the unit of analysis to address these questions: what are the causal relationships between changes in the sizes of largest cities and empires? Does empire growth cause city growth? Does city growth cause empire growth? And what are the other causes of these size changes? Our earlier studies have found that urban and polity upsweeps (large increases in scale) are correlated over time. But the number of these instances of large-scale change (upsweeps) is few. Much more numerous are the smaller upswings in which the sizes of the largest city or polity increased but did not become significantly larger than earlier increases. Sweeps are large changes and swings are smaller changes. In this study, we examine these more numerous urban and polity swings in those five political-military interaction networks (PMNs) in which we have enough size estimates to quantitatively study changes in the sizes of the largest cities and empires. The interstate systems that we study are those centered in Mesopotamia, Egypt, East Asia, South Asia and the expanding central Political-Military Network.This is what international relations scholars call an “international system.” We also examine the relationships between urban and polity swings and changes in the power configuration of these same systems. Interstate power configurations vary from decentralized to centralized based on the relative sizes and power of the interacting states in each system. We also test the relationship between urban and polity swings and changes in the intensity of warfare in these systems.

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 Presented in Session 14. Violence, Contention, and Warfare