Since the 1970s, using his world-systems analysis, Immanuel Wallerstein has developed a wide-ranging framework for the social sciences, with potential applications for comparative educational research. In this paper we outline key aspects of Wallerstein’s theorising, and then analyse the uptake, understandings, and applications of his analysis in the field of comparative and international education, through a case study of the Comparative Education Review (CER) journal from 1980 to 2008. This paper examines how, and how widely, his analysis has been adopted and interpreted. Our analysis highlights significant and—given the broader emphasis in comparative education on questions of education and development—surprising absences in the application of this approach. We conclude by arguing for the use and development of three critical features of his analysis in comparative work, as relevant and timely interventions in the field.
Prospects: quarterly review of comparative education Vol. 40, p. 447-463