Thursday, July 15, 2010

Merits and Demerits of Globalization

Today, states are interconnected and interdependent to a degree never previously experienced. Globalization is clearly illustrated in several issues of the twenty-first century. In this article, we examine three globalizing issues, specifically health, the environment, and human rights, among a plethora of possible issues. For these issues we show interconnectedness, the interaction among various international actors, and the impacts of these changes on core concepts and on the study of international relations.

In the twenty-first century, more different kinds of actors than ever participate in international politics, including the state, ethno national challengers, multinational corporations, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, trans-national movements and networks, and individuals. The transition from states being the main actors in international relations to the growing importance of non-state actors portends a significant power shift. These new actors address a great variety of issues that are substantively and geographically inter linked from the local to the global level. Here we introduced two of the core issues-security and the international political economy. These two issues have evolved in new ways. State security is now human security; interstate wars may be less prevalent than civil wars or terrorist operations. The international political economy is just part of the broader process of globalization, dominated by actors other than the state. Economic decisions made by multinational corporations affect national balances of payments and the ability of workers at the local level to hold a job and make a living wage. Issues such as health, the environment, and human rights may be as salient to states and individuals as traditional “guns or butter” issues. Finally, the changes wrought by the global communications and technology revolution lessens the determinacy of geography and undermines the primacy of territorial states. Distance and time are compressed; important issues can be communicated virtually instantaneously around the globe and to the most remote villages of the developing world. The ability of state leaders to manage this flow of information has diminished. One aspect of the sovereignty of the state, namely internal control over its citizens, has eroded.

As a result of these changes, globalizing issues demand further discussion. These issues are not new. Interest at the local and state level in health, the environment and human rights has been expressed for generations, because these issues touch the quality of people’s lives directly. These issues are closely connected to war and strife and political economy. What is new is that there is now international interests and action. And these issues are likely to be at the forefront in the twenty-first century. How can we think conceptually about globalizing issues? How do these issues crosscut with the traditional issues of security and economics? Who are the various actors with interests? How would a realist, a liberal, a radical, or a constructivist approach these globalizing issues?

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