Globalization and Fragmentation: International Relations in the Twentieth Century

Globalization and Fragmentation: International Relations in the Twentieth Century

Globalization and Fragmentation: International Relations in the Twentieth Century

Globalization and Fragmentation: International Relations in the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

Globalization and Fragmentation offers a succinct, original critique of the century's international developments. It sets out a challenging analysis of globalization as a process reflecting political relations both between and within states.

Excerpt

How will the international history of the twentieth century be regarded by future historians? It was certainly an age of stark contrast, and possibly of paradox. It is not surprising that it should have been depicted as an 'age of extremes' (Hobsbawm 1994).

But how will the twentieth century be remembered? As soon as the question is posed, the contradictions spill out. It was an age of unprecedented violence, of threatened annihilation, and yet, for part of the time, of very substantial peace and stability in some areas of the world. It was an age that did more than any other to advance the philosophical claims to human rights in an international context, but it also witnessed the most flagrant violations of them in practice. The century saw the creation of hitherto unattainable wealth but ever wider gaps in its distribution. Above all, the century was characterized by the greater interconnectedness of events on a global basis, while simultaneously being subject to political processes of rupture and disintegration: it has been an age of globalization and of fragmentation.

Globalization and Fragmentation

Each of these terms refers to diverse processes embracing political, social, economic, technological, and cultural change. They encapsulate the scope of the uniformity of political ideas and practices; the geographical extent of social interaction and reflexivity; the degree of integration of economic activities; the diffusion of technologies (information, communications, transport) which overcome the significance of space; and the extent of the dissemination of cultural symbols and significations. Given this diversity, no simple and straightforward definition can be offered of either. Globalization, however, denotes movements in both the intensity and the extent of international interactions: in the former sense, globalization overlaps to some degree with related ideas of integration, interdependence, multilateralism, openness, and interpenetration; in the latter, it points to the geographical spread of these tendencies and is cognate with globalism, spatial compression, universalization, and homogeneity. Fragmentation is but . . .

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