Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Globalization and the State: Towards Theory Building at a Macro Level

Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Globalization and the State: Towards Theory Building at a Macro Level

Article excerpt

The global strategy adopted for economic development has opened up newer avenues as well as newer challenges before the state, especially the state in developing countries. Needless to mention, the immediate impact of globalization is being gradually felt at the level of the functioning of the state. The replacement of the state by the market forces has raised a serious issue: What will be the role of the state in the overall governing process of the country? Should the state be given a backseat and the market forces, the front driving seat? What will be the fate of the common people in developing nations if the state is allowed to withdraw in a greater measure from the governing process in general and that of welfare activities in particular? These and other issues have created confusions among the policy planners and policy makers of these countries. The problem centers around one particular issue: Can there be a grand theory for understanding this deep-rooted problem? Or should there be any kind of theory which will be most suited to the task of unfolding this issue? These are some basic issues which have been addressed in the following paper; the conclusions drawn are, however, tentative and suggestive in nature.

Globalization has created a new scenario where the role of the state needs to be examined in a new way. There are a number of issues involved in this process of globalization such as the role of the state as an actor in the process of economic development, the problem of nation-state vis-à-vis a globalized economy with no or minimum economic boundaries, the problem of conceptualizing and then situating the concept of sovereignty in its proper perspective and the like. The need for structural adjustment and allowing the market to play the dominant role in the economic life have also brought to the fore newer and newer forces which have been unknown earlier. So a very compelling as well as complex situation has arisen which needs to be assessed as objectively as possible so that nation-states can play their role in a new situation without destroying their own identities.

It may not be out of place here to mention that during the mid-1980s, the word 'globalization' began to replace the terms like 'internationalization' and 'transnationalization' as a more suitable concept for describing the ever-shifting networks of cross-border human interactions. As the term covers a wide range of issues relating to social, economic and political change, it has attracted the attention of scholars of different disciplines leading to multiplicity in its meaning, nature and dimension. For example, economic globalization has often been perceived as a process in which distinct national economies and therefore domestic strategies of national economic management become increasingly irrelevant.

In recent years, there has been a good deal of discussion in academic circles in this regard, and the attempts by the leading sociologists deserve special mention.1 In general, according to these interpretations, the concept refers to the rapid spread, worldwide, of some dominant social, cultural and political norms and practices. To Robertson, for some time there has already been a process or social system binding at the global level. In the words of Robertson, the process of globalization confronts unresolved cleavages in the cultural arena which stand in way of the full development of the social system. However, he is of the opinion that the potential for a closing of these cleavages is greatly enhanced. To extend his views, he has introduced two concepts in his definition of globalization: 'compression of the world' and 'global consciousness'. Compression of the world has its immediate effect on the world economy, no matter whether it is in the south or in the north. There are many areas and issues all over the globe where the effect of this 'compression' can be seen such as in the field of consumption of preferences or in the process of industrial development. …

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