The Market or the Public Domain? Global Governance and the Asymmetry of Power

By Daniel Drache | Go to book overview

4

Policy domain or public domain at a time of globalization

Simon Reich


Introduction

'Globalization', we are repeatedly told, challenges the governance capacities of the State and weakens sovereignty over decision making. 1 Some conclude that globalization represents a natural progression towards a 'borderless' world, 2 signalling the end of the modern international state system as we know it. The capacity for governance has been truncated, with finance just providing a leading example of a broader trend. 3 In its place we are offered a view of a complex world of state and non-state actors who share governance functions and are bound by a series of social norms and institutional linkages that transcend national borders. 4

For others, the concept is over-stated and its influences are exaggerated. Rather than a structural change in the nature of capitalism beyond the scope of any individual actors, it is a subterfuge to justify the abolition of the welfare state. 5 States may choose to delegate authority rather than simply having it taken from them.

Central to these two perspectives is the contrasting response to questions concerning the effect of globalization on the emergence of alternative governance or authority structures, especially in the non-governmental and the corporate world, that compete with states. Yet state and non-state authority clearly exists in a more contingent, interactive and dynamic manner. Governance has changed, becoming increasingly conditional in character - with varied resulting capacities for states to deal with newly emergent issues.

The idea of the public domain, in a sense, intrudes on this debate by implying that governance structures are shared through social networks. Invocation of the term begs some questions. Under what conditions and in which ways do states retain influence? Furthermore, how and under what conditions are state and non-state actors tied together? What are the dynamics and contingencies of governance structures under globalization? Most importantly, in this context, what 'happens' to the public domain as a mechanism of cohesion protecting civil society - and linking state, society and economy - here? Its protective capacities seem, in certain instances, to disappear. If so, how can we reconcile the apparent eclipse of the public domain in many countries in the

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