Globalization and Its Impact Upon States

Begum Burak

Globalization has been dominating the political as well as the academic agenda for a couple of decades. What globalization means implies different things for different people ; however what it does to states, most of the time, is characterized as an issue that many agree on.

The origins of the term ‘globalization’ date back to late 1960s. On the one hand, it refers to the homogenization of cultural traits around the world; on the other hand, it addresses some kind of fragmentation in national identities which leads to micro-nationalist trends.

It could be said that, through technological, cultural, economic and political processes globalization marks a variety of changes and transformation in world politics. Firstly, in terms of technology, the World Wide Web (especially social networks) and satellite systems pave the way for the world to become a single place wherein each single person is aware of what is going on around.

Secondly, with regard to the economic dimension of globalization, it could be said that, the end of the Cold War marked the triumph of capitalism and free-market economy. In this context, globalization may be seen as a driving force which makes states give up state-driven economic systems in order to be able to become adapted to the world economic structure.

Thirdly, in terms of politics and culture, globalization is seen as a motivator which makes states get engaged in a greater density of interactions. These interactions play a major role in undermining the importance of territorial borders while making different cultures know one another more easily.

Indeed, it must be stated that there is a considerable degree of disagreement and conflictual views about what globalization is. Some people argue that globalization is associated with modern colonialism that has been exercised upon less developed countries. In addition to that, others see globalization as a cultural imperialism that stresses the ideological hegemony of the economically-developed countries. According to this view, through  the internet or satellite systems, countries with big economies spread their culture around the world.

On the other hand, some people regard globalization as a driving force that increases the economic inequalities by making the rich richer and the poor poorer. In line to that, the North-South divide is a good example in showing the gap between developed (North) and under-developed countries (South). Another feature of globalization is linked with interdependency. As the borders lose their function and as people become more interconnected, states also become more dependent upon each other. It must also be said that the roles of non-state units such as Greenpeace, Multi-national corporations (MNCs), and the roles of actors like the World Bank all become more influential in world politics.

Apart from that, globalization is treated by some as a threat. For example, cross-border terrorist activities, environmental problems such as climate change, pandemics such as AIDS and scarcity of natural resources all pose a major threat for states and human-beings around the world.

In short, it could be said that the defining features of globalization are not fixed or similar for everyone. Some people attach to it positive meanings whereas others attach negative ones. This different attitude is generally based on contextual dissimilarities and the uneven nature of globalization (globalization is defined as an uneven process, that means that is not felt in the same degree everywhere.)

What is Globalization? Conflictual Views

*A driving force that threats world order( via terror)
*Economic and cultural imperialism
*A single world/removal of borders
*Interdependency +interconnectedness


Globalization and the State

Above all, it must be asserted that what globalization does to the state is generally seen as an agreed-upon issue. Today many people say that globalization has been eroding state sovereignty. There are two central justifications for this argument. Firstly, terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda pose serious challenge to public authorities. Moreover, some MNCs thanks to the legal voids in some states get engaged in some activities which in the end challenge state sovereignty. Some MNCs employ illegal tools and bypass public authorities.

On the other hand, as noted, it is obvious that globalization has weakened the cultural characteristics of some states while favoring the ones of others. It must also be noted that, globalization plays positive roles in making the states become more transparent and accountable in policy-making. For instance, as globalization increases interactions around the world, international law and international norms and principles gain a more functional role. In a world where the importance of the international law is growing, states feel much more obliged to act in accordance with it. As a result, human-rights violations may be prevented too.

What Globalization Does to States?

Positive Functions Negative Functions
Increases accountability of states- law Makes states more fragile-pandemics,terror
Increases awareness Erodes state sovereignty
Serves world peace-interdependency Makes national economies more fragile

Moreover, in terms of economics, states today experience serious deadlocks in controlling their economies. In other words, the function of states in financial activities loses supremacy as a result of the interconnectedness of world-wide markets.  Briefly, it can be stated that while globalization means different things to different people, its effects on states is not so controversial. Hence it could be said that while the people who attach positive features to it see its effects as a positive thing, the others who attach negative features argue that globalization poses serious threats to the sovereignty and cultural identity of states.


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