The Making of a Digital World

Book cover

About the book

Providing a unique, empirically based perspective on the past and future development of globalization as a long-term process emerging in different parts of the world, this book puts current changes in a historical context in a systematic fashion, unpacking the global political, economic, social, and cultural implications of this change. It traces the resemblance of past commercial networks with emerging digital networks and contrasts them with industrial production systems.

Globalization re-contextualized

This book offers a unique perspective on current social changes changes on a global scale. Describing globalization as a long-term process of intertwined technological, economic, political, and cultural changes, the author identifies distinct phases in the global system development, and concludes that the pattern of change continues even with the rise of new digital technologies.

World system development as a complex system

Making of a Digital World develops a model of world system development as a complex adaptive social system that takes into account past historical trajectories as well as possible new developments with a special focus on the rise of the digital infosphere as a new global “space domain.”


  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • One: Thinking about Globalization—an Introduction
  • Two: An Evolutionary Theory of Globalization
  • Three: Drivers of Global Change—Leading Sectors of the Informational Network Economy
  • Four: Drivers of Leading Sector Change—the Role of States, Organizations, and Individuals
  • Five: Drivers of Leading Actor Change—Interstate Rivalry at the Systemic Level
  • Six: The Continuation of Change of the Global Complex System—an Outlook on Its Future Development
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index


Videos from a Q&A session with management students in Brazil.

Question 1

Question 2

Question 3

Book reviews

“Its clear and engaging style, coupled with its unique empirical analysis of theory, makes this book worth a read for anyone interested in globalization theory and political economics.”

— Kosal, M. E. and Cole, K. (2009). IPE’s Darwin on globalization and technology: Review of “Making of a digital world”. International Studies Review, 11(2):365–367.

Read the full review at ISR.


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Joachim K. Rennstich
Joachim K. Rennstich
Professor International Social Work and Research Methods

My research interests include the long-term development of digital capitalism, digital literacy and innovative teaching-methodologies.