The first conclusion chapter draws out the implications of Chapter 7 more fully, putting them in comparative perspective with the lessons drawn from the West African cases. In particular, it draws an explicit link between transportation networks (the “hardware” of rural–urban trade) and the social systems that inform trade relations (the “software”). This chapter argues that ranked-society trade networks may be better able to exploit redundant transportation networks, since there is no taboo against long-distance trade amongst second-tier cities. By contrast, the radial trade networks that formed in the unranked society of West Africa seem to exacerbate monopsonistic and monopolistic relationships between rural and urban areas, since interethnic trade becomes more risky. It concludes with implications for managing coercive violence, as well as the effects of the rural–urban divide on state identity.
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