This volume brings together a set of essays each of which seeks to launch or elaborate on innovative approaches to fundamental issues in global political economy. Half of them had their start in a series of International Studies Association panels that I organized over a five-year period along with Dimitris Stevis. The panels looked at shifting boundaries between actors and sites of interaction among a variety of participants in the post-Cold War global political economy. The various papers examined basic premises for conceiving and analyzing world systems and global governance. In addition to essays developed from these panels, this collection includes invited contributions from scholars whose substantive expertise complements and whose normative and theoretical interests parallel those of the boundaries group participants.
Taken together, the writers argue from different theoretical and normative points of view, and perhaps from different worldviews as well. Their chapters provide multiple arguments and avenues for rethinking global political economy at a time of turmoil and system transformation. What are the defining concepts in contemporary international political economy (IPE)? How should we frame the models we build from them? Spike Peterson (Chapter 2 this volume) finds recurrent patterns of domination along conventional boundary distinctions such as "first world/third world," "capitalists/workers," "male/female," and "core/periphery," and cross-cutting patterns signifying the drawing of less conventional lines. In several chapters, the "state" surrenders its centrality as an organizing concept, but for most it remains key whether it is explicitly addressed or not. "Hegemony" is another concept that appears in these chapters, most openly engaged as the contestation among ideas in theory and in policy (Jenkins, Chapter 4 this volume). Perhaps most significantly, these chapters reflect an enlarged vision of class and its priority as an independent variable, one that incorporates identity along with relations of production (Colás; Nitzan; Peterson; Uvin, this volume). Whether the construction (or perhaps the recognition) of identity owes more to agency, ontology, or contingency points up its plasticity and indicates a "Goldhagen problematique" for understanding its social production and reproduction (Goldhagen 1996; Uvin, Chapter 7 this volume).
Several chapters look explicitly at problems of justice and equality, reflecting the concerns of many contributors with the welfare and happiness of human