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16.1 Are national states irrelevant in an era of economic globalization?

1. How have nation-states adapted to the challenges of national and global governance in an era of globalization?

  • Many argue that the global market and capital, as well as the rising power of TNCs, has undermined states' power and authority. In this sense, their role as the main actors of global politics is put into question.
  • On the other hand, there are those who argue that states continue to be the main drivers of globalization and particularly of global governance. As such, it is argued that they remain the main point of reference for civil society organizations and are critical actors in providing mechanisms for democratic accountability in world politics. This would suggest that the role of states remains crucial for the conduct of international and global politics, but that non-state actors must increasingly be taken into consideration.

2. What accounts for the significant variation among states in their policy strategies and governance capacities?

  • One major variation among states is the amount of control they hold over national economies. This leads to discrepant economic policies played out on an international level.
  • Generally, it is argued that powerful states remain the 'authors' of globalization, where deregulation and liberalization in relation to economic governance is a choice rather than an expression of a power 'erosion'. Yet the question remains: is this in the interest of all states? Who wins and who loses from such arrangements?

3. Do you agree that states remain important to a democratic or 'just' world economic order? If so, why? If not, why not?

  • Many argue that, particularly with regards to democratic accountability, states remain crucial. This emerges predominantly out of a critique of power dynamics within and among NGOs and TNCs. Thus, states are regarded as responsible for regulating and imposing human rights, including economic rights.
  • On the other hand, a strong case can be made in arguing that NGOs often address particular needs of people that states consciously or unconsciously ignore. Thus, they remain crucial for raising political awareness in areas neglected by traditional nation-state policies.