Global Transformation and Local Countermovements: The Prospects for Democracy under Neoliberalism

By Udayagiri, Mridula; Walton, John | International Journal of Comparative Sociology, November 2003 | Go to article overview

Global Transformation and Local Countermovements: The Prospects for Democracy under Neoliberalism


Udayagiri, Mridula, Walton, John, International Journal of Comparative Sociology


Introduction

The second half of the twentieth century witnessed the beginning of a major transformation of international political economy, a sea change that continues to play itself out in the name of globalization. We stand at the center of these events, without a clear understanding of their outcome but with a palpable sense of the changing shape of our world. In many ways, our epoch is comparable to Karl Polanyi's "great transformation" that began with the rise of an international market economy and ended in fascism, war, and the collapse of nineteenth century civilization. The comparison is twofold. First, nineteenth century liberalism and twentieth century globalization each in its time reorganized the international capitalist system in new ways, initially through imperial rivalry and then by means of a global regime. Second, by extending the market economy to new terrain, each regime introduced contradictions revolving around social protection and currency. In Polanyi's language, these "disruptive strains" fostered "countermovements" or defensive reactions intent on saving society from the destructive effects of unfettered market competition. Without prejudging the direction of contemporary events, Polanyi's classic The Great Transformation provides a fertile model for analyzing today's global society.

The late twentieth century pivots on the creation of a new international system designed to promote stability and economic recovery at the end of World War II through the Bretton Wood accords. A Third World was created under the tutelage of the industrialized states, a world that was to be blandished and instructed in the ways of development. Economic growth was the object, a goal attainable through open markets, trade and aid, foreign investment, and coordination by an active developmental state.

In this paper, we analyze the state and social movements in the developing world. We are concerned with developmental policy, the limits of state autonomy, and the prospects of democracy. These themes require that we sketch the evolution of the developmental state--its political principles, moral economy, accomplishments, contradictions, and effective demise with the debt crisis of the 1980s. Our problem suggests several contemporary parallels with Polanyi's analysis. The debt crisis and subsequent austerity policies implemented by multilateral agencies of the new global regime were a classic effort to save the market economy from its own contradictions. Disruptive strains fostered in the process centered on currency devaluations and deteriorating social protections. Similarly, these events generated an international wave of countermovements, cases of popular protest and mobilization originating from a common root but manifest in varied societal forms. The countermovements begin in a strikingly similar set of popular uprisings beginning in the 1980s, an international wave of street riots protesting austerity policies identified with the International Monetary Fund. Although riots and demonstrations continued episodically, new forms of political mobilization began to emerge and supersede the premises of the developmental state. It is these emerging practices that we hope to illuminate.

In the sections that follow, first we describe the transformation in general terms, how it has been described and theorized. Then we turn to two case studies of political conflict: social movements around globalization and democratization in Mexico and India. The case studies focus on two of the world's major developing countries, yet ones that differ in their histories and paths to modernity. They are selected for comparison in the interests of variation, in order to show in detail the different avenues along which globalization and its countermovements proceed. In the end, we also propose certain similarities between these cases as well as some lessons for the unfolding transformation.

Theorizing the Politics of Transformation

Polanyi (2001) traced national trajectories through the great transformation as they were shaped by strains and countermovements associated with social interventions in the market, "the measures which society adopted in order not to be, in its turn, annihilated by the action of the self-regulating market" (Polanyi 2001:257). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Global Transformation and Local Countermovements: The Prospects for Democracy under Neoliberalism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.