State Reaction to Globalization, a Class Centered Analysis: The Case of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago

By Ramsaran, Dave | International Journal of Comparative Sociology, February-May 2004 | Go to article overview

State Reaction to Globalization, a Class Centered Analysis: The Case of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago


Ramsaran, Dave, International Journal of Comparative Sociology


Introduction

This paper seeks to compare the reactions of two states to the process of globalization: (1) Barbados and (2) Trinidad and Tobago. In reacting to the process of globalization, it appears that states do not necessarily defend the interest of the population who elected the respective political parties to office. Rather, the response is dependent upon the types of economic elites found within the nation-state, and contingent upon the extent to which the social formation allows national elites to couch their interests under the guise of nationalist discourse. The more economic elites stand to benefit from the process of globalization, the more they encourage the state to push ahead with the process of globalization, even if it has negative consequences for the general population. On the other hand, the more that economic elites stand to lose through the process of globalization (i.e., material well-being), the more likely they are to urge the state to resist the process of globalization, justifying such actions in the name of "national interest."

Theoretical Concerns

The process of globalization is a contradictory process. For analytical purposes, it is seen as having three levels: supra-statal, statal, and intra-statal. Within each level there are three dimensions: the economic, the political, and the cultural/ideological. These levels and dimensions are involved in a dialectical relationship with each other (Ramsaran and Price 2003).

Globalization is not a new development. Capitalism took on a global character when European countries began establishing colonies in the 1500s. In the 1800s that process escalated, resulting in the carving up of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean to suit the needs of European governments and their economies. Indeed, colonial societies were organized to suit the needs of core countries in the capitalist world system (Chase-Dunn 1989; Frank 1978; Levitt and Best 1978; Wallerstein 1974).

Even though globalization is not a new phenomenon, there are new developments in contemporary capitalist operations that necessitate some amendments to the traditional ways of analyzing such operations. In contemporary capitalism there is greater interconnectivity between the economic. political, and cultural sectors. They are interconnected through markets, finance, goods and services, and transnational corporate networks (Chase-Dunn 1999). Further, the way in which groups are incorporated into this process within their respective societies is dependent upon both their position within the global distribution of power between nation-states, and their power position within their individual societies.

The "economics of globalization" refers to the process of capitalist expansion. It is manifested through the intensification of global commodity chains and a global division of labor; the increasing concentration of industries into the hands of a small number of transnational corporations; and a shift in world trade away from goods and services toward financial instruments, deregulation, and free trade (Ramsaran and Price 2003). The "politics of globalization" refers to an examination of how decisions are made and how power is distributed among, and within, nation-states. Under contemporary capitalism, global finance requires global governance and, as a result, global regulatory institutions are becoming more powerful and are redefining national sovereignty. This global regulatory system is built upon a world system arrangement of core and periphery. This arrangement allows one nation (or group of nations) to force another nation (or group of nations) into economic and social programs that their population may oppose. This kind of power relationship also plays itself out through organizations specific to the local situation and includes the use of culturally specific issues and symbols to articulate local interests (Ramsaran and Price 2003).

The "culture of globalization" refers to the ideologies that drive the process of globalization. …

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