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World system theory adds another layer to what dependency theorists describe as the structure of the world: the semi-periphery. The semi-periphery is composed of countries such as Brazil and South Africa that can’t simply be categorized as part of the core or the periphery (i.e. they have developed urban areas but also large areas of rural poverty). World systems theory also states that the dynamic of surplus extraction that occurs between nations also occurs within them, between their elite and poor classes. According to this structure, which includes a core, a periphery, and a semi-periphery, not every nation can develop simultaneously (which directly challenges the linear model of modernization which suggests that all countries are on the trajectory of development). WST instead argues that development and underdevelopment are created simultaneously.

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