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Chapter Review

  • What is Globalization?
    • Globalization is the process of expanding and intensifying linkages between states, societies, and economies. Entire societies are now directly connected to global affairs.
    • Globalization makes domestic issues more subject to international influence and makes local events more influential around the world, posing two challenges to the study of comparative politics as it blurs the line between domestic and international politics.
  • Institutions and Globalization
    • Globalization is associated with three nonstate or superstate entities: 1) multinational corporations (MNCs—firms that produce and market goods in more than one country); 2) nongovernmental organizations (NGOs—national and international groups, apart from any state, that focus on specific policy goals); and 3) intergovernmental organizations (IGOs—groups like the United Nations and the European Union that are created by states to focus on certain policies).
    • International organizations may be part of an international regime, defined as the fundamental rules and norms of politics, a set of institutions that empower and constrain states and governments. They link states and shape their relationship to each other, usually with relation to some specific issue (such as greenhouse gases or trade). 
  • Political Globalization
    • Globalization raises questions of the long-term trend of sovereignty and democratic development.
    • Concerning sovereignty, some people argue that states may give up sovereignty in favor of integration under international organizations. These organizations, they argue, will be able more effectively to tackle critical global issues and politics, and they predict that violent conflict will decline. Others argue that globalization will lead to fragmentation, as globalization is fostering the emergence of such violent international actors and movements as globalized crime and terrorism
    • Concerning democracy, some argue that IGOs and NGOs increasingly act as international watchdogs, and that in the long term, global politics will become more transparent and responsive. Others argue that globalization will lead to a weakening of democratic institutions, as international actors are not directly elected and so lack the direct public accountability so necessary to republican governance. IGOs and NGOs may suffer from a “democratic deficit,” an idea first raised with regard to the EU.
  • Economic Globalization
    • When many people think about globalization, economics is what typically comes to mind.  Scholars tend to point to several specific institutions and regimes as vital components of economic globalization: the Bretton Woods System, globalized trade, and global communication.
    • The Bretton Woods System is a postwar economic regime (associated with the Washington Consensus) created to expand economic relations and promote trade liberalization. Three important institutions emerged from the Bretton Woods System: the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), later replaced by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
    • While trade has always had a strong international component, globalized trade has become increasingly extensive and intensive, tying markets, producers, and labor together in a way that had not existed previously. Examples of this trend has been the increase in foreign direct investment (the purchase of assets in a country by a foreign firm) and increased immigration resulting from globalized labor.
    • Economic development is amplified by expanded global communication, which has broken down many of the traditional barriers to trade.
    • Perhaps the best-known example of this intersection among globalized labor, technology, and markets is offshore outsourcing, the process by which a firm moves its work to a secondary business in order to lower costs and/or increase production.
    • Optimists argue that economic globalization leads to greater prosperity, as wealth is diffused more effectively through open markets for goods, labor, and capital, increasing standards of living worldwide.
    • Critics say that globalization hurts workers as this increased trade, foreign investment, and offshore outsourcing leads firms and countries to engage in a “race to the bottom,” driving down wages, weakening regulations, and undermining sources of economic stability. Critics also fear the weakening of state capacity and autonomy, as globalized businesses are increasingly able to avoid government taxation, oversight and public accountability, replacing state power with a small cartel of powerful corporations that lack any national or democratic control. 
  • Societal Globalization
    • Globalization (strongly affected by the rise of new technologies like cell phones and the Internet) can connect people though common interests instead of through national or ethnic identities.
    • Some argue that globalization will continue to engender global multiculturalism and international cosmopolitanism, leading to fewer tensions between people. They also argue that new technologies will lead to a globalized democracy by promoting civil-society groups.
    • Critics of globalized democratization say that globalization overwhelms people with information and choices, leading to alienation and a public backlash. They argue that societal globalization is more likely to lead to nationalism and fundamentalism as people retreat into old identities rather than create new ones. Others say that globalization leads to identities that lack mass appeal being thrown away or driven out, replaced by what satisfies the widest public and the lowest common denominator.
  • Taking Stock of Globalization
    • In considering the evidence for globalization, some scholars have argued that connections between regions around the world have existed for centuries, and that globalization is not a new phenomenon. They argue that we should not assume that what is occurring now is so unique that the past has nothing to teach us.
    • Other scholars say that globalization’s effect is exaggerated. Sovereignty remains a critical demand for people around the world, and many countries have tightened controls to combat terrorism, stifle dissent, or respond to economic crisis. Even in the area of economics, international trade is only a quarter of the global GDP, and countries still exhibit a strong “home bias” in economic activity.  Finally, with regard to societal changes, globalization has failed to produce cultural homogeneity.
    • While people may feel that globalization is inevitable, it can be limited or reversed by such things as economic crisis or public opposition.