Globalisation Undermining State Sovereignty

The global world is changing, there is a rapid exchange of ideas, new technologies, information, communication, and knowledge rising significantly which has stimulated different thinkers to have opposite ideas about the process known as globalization. Let us just explain how the sovereignty of the nation-state can be undermined by globalization and explore the perspectives of globalization put forward by the globalists, inter-nationalists, and the transformationalists. This analysis will particularly assess the transformationalists approach to culture and technology, examine the strengths, weaknesses and will also conclude that globalization is changing social economic context.

We will start by examining some ideas about the nation-state is based on the belief that people with common characteristics such as language, religion or ethnicity borders constitute a separate and distinctive political community. But the sovereignty of nation-state applies to the whole socio-cultural, economic, and political relations. It claims supreme and exclusive power over the destinies of their citizens, independently of outside forces and thus possesses autonomy. The increase in communication, information and new technology seem to undermine the sovereignty of nation-state.

Globalization is the process by which the world is believed to be altered into a single global system. In the 1960s Marshall Mcluhan introduced a media theory into the analysis of culture and mass media; the term “global village” was used and has become a powerful and popular metaphor for understanding the new communication technologies in subsequent decades; it comes with  free marketing,  deregulation of  economic activity, transformation of  family structure,  information technology together with the advances of communications, free circulation of capital and of course with the new ways of criminality and tactics  of war and terrorism.

Globalization is a complex process, which has four key concepts that we have to explore to understand its impact.  The first is the stretched social relations, that cultural, political and economic processes in society are progressively stretched across nation-state frontiers, so for instance whatever happens and any decisions carried out on one side of the world have an important repercussion on the other side. The second an intensification which means that those repercussions are felt more intensely than before and multiplying the density of interaction across the world which at the same time is changing the geography of the connection among the local and the global. The third, interpenetration allowing distant cultures and societies to come face to face with each other at the local level and therefore diversity.

As a last key concept, global infrastructure that we have to bear in mind to understand globalization is the fundamental institutional measures required for globalized networks to function. The World Bank, International Monetary Funds, World Trade Organization, and United Nations, etc. for instance these are the basic infrastructure for governing the global system. The increased satellite systems for television, communication and mobile phone networks and Internet are key features of this global infrastructure. Ohmae argued that emergences of global infrastructure have been a fundamental challenge to the sovereignty of the nation-state (Cochrane A. and K. Pain, 2004, p.17).

The debate of globalization has three points of view which are: the globalists, inter-nationalists and transformationalists positions. The globalists are divided into positivists and pessimists; they are confident that globalization is taking place and shifting dramatically the economic and social circumstances. Greider W. argues that capitalism has become globalized even in the most powerful states, such as the US; find themselves engulfed by the imperatives of the global market.

While the inter-nationalists are to some extent more skeptical, they accept that change is indeed taking place, but at the same time dispute the magnitude and insist on continuity with the past. The inter-nationalist’s argument is an emphasis upon the structure of power in the inter-state system and the way in which the hierarchy of power determines the pattern of global governance.

On the other hand, the transformationalists agree with the strong point of inter-nationalist’s claim. They assume that a vast transformation is happening, but do not accept the globalists argument. The transformationalists claim that there is margin for action by the traditional agencies such as nation-state as well as the need to develop new approaches.

Assessing the culture and technology approach to globalization, we can mention that the technology is commonly implicated in debates about the burgeoning global dissemination of culture, social spheres and institutions as well as work, family, leisure, education and the construction of identity. Transformationalists give importance to technological determinism as the driving force of the past and present, and argue that computers, telecommunications and technologies create the information society. The transformations brought about by technology been considerable. We can see that the new technologies are social in their origins as well as a key component of cultural globalization.

The evidence that support globalization is based on the four key concepts: stretched across space, intensification of flows, and interpenetration of economic and global infrastructure which will help us access the impact of it’s on our everyday lives. All perspectives of globalization support their argument by selecting different evidences. The first evidence that support stretched across space is the national broadcasting, which varies dramatically between countries, transmission on radio and television by cable satellite has a less dramatic impact in the France, USA, UK, Australia and Italy than other countries. Table 2.6 Estimated audience share for national and global television in the UK, 1997, shows that the distribution for global televisions channels is very small to national television (Mackay, 2004, p.66).

The second example of globalization is intensification of flows, which focuses on the dissemination from the local media in a worldwide degree. The world is divided into a number of regions which each have their own internal dynamics as well as their global ties. The map percentage of imported television programmes in selected countries Figure 2.10, 1993, illustrates the competition between local televisions from global; such flows are a major element of the international traffic of television programs; which constitutes a complex picture; e.g. encompasses of US cable network, Portugal, Spain and Latin American, and exportation of Latin American soap Operas to US and Europe (McKay, 2004, p.72-74).

The third, as an example of interpenetration, we can name the MNCs like McDonald and Coca-Cola and also we would like to quote an extract of Will Hutton’s point of view to support this concept.

“Whether in trade, finance or the speed and scope of communication, the degree of interpenetration of national markets and cultures is unprecedented. We smoke Marlboro cigarettes, eat sushi, use Microsoft windows……experiment with acupuncture, read cosmopolitan, take away pizza and watch CNN wherever we are. English is emerging as the international language….” (Source: Hutton, 1997, p.55).

The fourth evidence that supports globalization is global infrastructure. From 1981 there has been a proliferation of regional grouping such ECOWAS, AMU, EU, APS, APEC, etc. are among global infrastructure (McGrew A. 2004, Table 4.1, p144). The Internet is a medium which allows citizens and social movement to coordinate public opinion with relative speed and ease; while the GATT, UN, WTO, IFM, World Bank etc. are the fundamental global infrastructure.

The globalists view of economic globalization is the processes that help the increase in global trade, production of goods, foreign investment rise, tourism and international communication are also rising faster, while the transformationalists approach on this processes are that states work together to exercise control over global economic institutions and multinational corporations. States can cooperate to establish mutually beneficial rules for trade. Sessen argues that in this approach, the feminist has seen opportunities for the formation of women’s rights as well as solidarities to coordination on economic cooperation across frontiers (Mackay, H. 2004, p.106).

On the other hand, the inter-nationalists view of economic globalization is still directed by the stronger and richer economies and is largely in their benefit; such as the WTO has power delegated to them by national economies when it is in their benefit. The European Commission views on economic globalization support these three different approaches of globalization.

“Globalization [….is] the process by which markets and production in different countries are becoming increasingly independent due to the dynamics of trade in goods and service and flows of capital and technology” (European Commission, 1997, p.45).

Examining the pessimistic globalists view on economic globalization that we called losers or weakness of globalization. Their views come from many different ideological approaches, such as conservative, environmentalists, socialist, Marxist, etc. that globalization can present problems for rich as well as poor countries. Michael Albert argues that when exchange takes place between a stronger multinational company and a small enterprise in a poorer country, large benefit goes to the stronger company to increase their relative power. Galbraith dispute the same view with Albert, that the push of competition, deregulation, privatization and open capital market has actually undermined economic prospects for many poorest people in the world (Mackay, H. 2004, p.99).

The pessimists in pursuit of their argument as Brah A., Hickman M., and Mac M. discussion focuses on migrations. The economic globalization is also about the movement of peoples. Migrants minority ethnic groups, refugees and asylum-seekers are all seen as problems for the nation-state (Mackay, H. 2004, p.99-101). All the pessimistic globalists view is founded on inequalities between rich and poor within countries, which increase the fragmentation and segmentation of society. We can find evidence of their views on Mander and Barker report.

A report by United Nations […] found that inequalities between rich and poor within countries, among countries are quickly expanding and that the global trading and finance system is one of the primary causes. (Mander and Barker, 2002, p.1).

Evaluating the views of globalization of culture and technology, apart from how globalization is interpreted by these different thinkers. We can say that the globalization is taking place and change dramatically the social and economic context of nation-state. It is producing uncertainty and full risk conditions for citizens as well as nation-state. The future is uncertain, dependent on global infrastructure, technological development, and Internet. We have examined different perspectives for making sense of globalization. Culture and technology argument, multiple forms of evidences have been presented to explain how the world is conducted by whom and in whose interests.

Césaire KAKPO








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