Globalisation challenges the state centred set of theories that assume that the nation state is the most powerful organisation in society, and can therefore be used to challenge the idea that there is a single ruling elite because there is no power in society to force the state in a particular direction. A state is a central authority exercising legitimate control over a given territory and which can use political violence against either its own citizens or other states to enforce that control.
A nation state is constantly under scrutiny because it has not yet been defined but sociologists are still happy to use the term nation state. However, most sociologists agree that the term nation state refers to any country that can make its own laws, operate its own economy and maintain economic power within its own territory. Nation states also wish to determine their own foreign policy, having their on defence and military capabilities. James Fulcher defines globalisation as the growing integration between of people across the world.
There are four main forms that globalisation takes; global communication, global interdependence, global awareness and global organisation. Global communication is used to express the increasing speed of which information, goods and people can be moved around the world, however, it is the capacity of forms of information that can be communicated that has really changed. Global interdependence shows that as different parts of the world are become interlinked, they become more interdependent. This interdependence takes two main forms economic and ecological.
Many poor countries are becoming increasingly dependent on tourists from rich ones, for example, workers in the Caribbean process data for the United States and Europe. This is closely linked to financial dependency because Capitalism is a global issue and every country is dependent on the flow of capital. Ecological interdependence is more complicated as it is and unintended consequence of technical and economic development. Environmental issues effect the whole world, deforestation in one country may not directly affect it but could affect another country.
Global warming is mainly due to carbon dioxide emissions from rich countries like the United States but in the end it will be low-lying countries that will suffer when they loose land not the United States. Global awareness is the sense that we all live in one earth, this has been driven by economic and ecological interdependence. Robertson (1992) claims people increasingly see themselves not as members of a community or a nation but as members of humanity, of a single threatened species. This awareness that we live in a global village is supported by global communications because it is bringing people closer together.
Global organisations like McDonald’s, Ford and Greenpeace are present all over the world and it is not yet clear how big a corporation must be for it to be global. Giddens (1985) supports the idea that nation states can no longer control their own economies and argues that political decisions are no longer taken by the state or governments but that decisions are made through global networks of information exchange, the world capitalist economy and world military order. David Held (1992) follows a Marxist perspective and argues that international bodies like the World Bank reduce the power of the nation states.
Massey (1999) argues that multinational corporations have created the myth of globalisation in an attempt to legitimatise economic and social policies that serve in their interests rather than the country’s in which policies originate. International organisations are often thought of as ‘supranational’ that transfer authority from nation states to international bodies above the nation. They do subject the nation state to some external regulation but this is negotiated by nation state representatives and operates through nation states.
The UN is handed power by the supranational corporations and may only use this power when another nation states security is threatened. The UN accepts the sovereignty of the nation states; however, they are dependent on nation states when the military becomes involved. International organisations are composed of nation states, whereas transnational organisations operate outside the nation states, the key feature of a transnational corporation is the movement of money, information, ideas, and people across national boarders.
The movement of money seriously limits government policies because money can go anywhere if government policies threaten profits or weaken a currency. Gould (1993) argues that there has been a ‘Japanisation of welfare’ as European countries cut back on welfare states expenditure in order to compete with Japan, where welfare expenditure is much lower. This transnational migration of labour shows the widening gap between rich and poor countries, meaning that ethnic, cultural and religious diversity is created in the nation states.
Naomi Klein argues that women and children living in third world countries and working in free trade zones are extremely exploited and are allowed to be paid less than the real cost of living. Large supranational corporations can turn over more money in one week than some nation states do in a year. For example, the American giant corporation, Wal-Mart, the parent company of ASDA has a weekly turnover of i? 4 billion. For a Marxist, globalisation is an extension of capitalism and how capitalism has been promoted throughout the world.
They would therefore agree that the nation state has become irrelevant because multinational corporations grow with capitalism and are taking over in every aspect of human life; culture, religion, ethnicity, gender, age and class. Marxists understand that world trade is important and that the division of labour can help every country to grow faster however; the division of labour is established under capitalism and therefore the division of labour is imposed upon the less developed countries.
Marx and Engle’s claim in the Communist Manifesto “The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country… All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. ” In conclusion, we now live in a multi level society that has a global level of organisation but also regional and national levels.
Global international agencies reinforce the nation state; global movements only challenge the authority of the nation state and although nation states are loosing some of their autonomy and sovereignty, but that this has been lost because country’s are becoming more regionalised. Castells (1997) argues that subnationalisms and communal resistance by ethnic and religious groups have forced the nation state to decentralise authority and decision making to meet their demands.