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Asymmetrical globalization –
Inequality inscribed deeply in the processes of contemporary globalization is more accurately
described as asymmetrical globalization.
When patterns of contemporary globalization are uneven they are also highly asymmetrical.
Globalization is not uniformly experienced across all regions, countries or communities.
As an asymmetrical process globalization exhibits a distinctive geography of inclusion and
exclusion, resulting in clear winners and losers (not just between countries but across them).
For the most affluent it entails a shrinking world of jet travel, global television and the World
Wide Web but for most it is associated with a sense of disempowerment.
Consequences of this include: Europe being forced to accept American beef by the WTO even
though they feel that the product is unsafe, this is a result of WTO anti discrimination laws. The
same decision was given to Jamaica who made a similar claim; however the EU used its wealth
to pay the fine while Jamaica was forced to import the meat that they felt was unsafe because
they did not have the financial power to resist the ruling.
Non- State Actors-
A term widely used to mean any actor that is not a government. There are two categories of non
state actors; these are transnational actors and international organizations such as the UN.
This includes transnational companies, intergovernmental organizations (EU, UN, NATO), NGO
and INGOs (Amnesty Intl).
Have the ability to influence decision making in international relations.
Have been vital in the human rights movement, women’s rights and environmental issues (work
of NGOs and INGOs).
None state actors are of a secondary importance in terms of relations between states, they
affect the relations between states. This is known as pluralism which is based on the assumption
that all types of actors can affect political outcome. International relations are not limited to
governments and other actors operate across country boundaries.
TNCs which are non states actors have been associated with controlling financial flows and loss
of sovereignty( case for 3rd world countries with IMF and World Bank)
Transnational Companies ( TNCs)
When companies have branches or subsidiaries outside of their home country they are
Traditionally, these companies were in agriculture, mining, or oil operating in the European
empire, now they occur in all economic sectors.
Classic image of TNC is a large company from the USA which has expanded production and sales
overseas, dominating a global market and exploiting cheap labour in developing countries, now
TNCs from developing countries are becoming increasingly important.
TNCs from developing countries increasingly investing in the developed world… eg: opposition in
USA congress strong enough to block takeover of US oil company UNOCAL.
The consequences: No longer possible to regard countries has having their own separate
Loss of sovereignty due to control over currency and foreign trade being diminished,
governments lose control over financial flow.
Cannot prevent indirect trade because TNCs are able to evade sanctions- this is called
triangulation. Eg: during the cold war US administration was unable to prevent its citizens from
visiting communist Cuba (governments cannot control their country’s international trade).
Another consequence is regulatory arbitrage. This is when it is difficult for a government to
regulate the commercial activities of a company within their country because when a company
objects to one government’s policy it may threaten to limit of close down its production and
increase production in another country. -----Governments that impose the least demanding
health, safety, welfare or environmental standards will offer competitive advantages to less
socially responsible companies. Also a global trend towards the reduction of corporate taxes
making it difficult for governments to set high standards and maintain taxes.
The structure of authority over TNCs generates the potential for intense conflict between
governments, when the legal authority of one government has extraterritorial impact on
sovereignty of another government.
In some areas of economic policy, governments have lost sovereignty and regulation now has to
be exercised at a global level rather than government acting independently.
** African land grabs discussed in tutorial is example
Transnational Civil Society
Civil society is the network of institutions and practices that enjoy some autonomy from the
state and through which groups and individuals organize, represent, and express themselves to
each other and to the state( e.g.: media, education system, churches and voluntary
Within traditional international relations civil society is understood to be part of the state but
for philosophers and sociologist, focusing on the state as government, civil society is separate
from the state.
Transnational civil society covers a wide range. This includes NGOs, Transnational organizations
from trade unions to the rainforest action network to the Catholic Church), advocacy networks
(from the women’s movements to the Nazis on net) and citizens groups.
They play a role in mobilizing and exercising political power across national boundaries.
With the global governance complex, private and non governmental agencies have become
increasingly influential in the formulation and implementation of global public policy. For
example: the international accounting standards board establishes global accounting rules and
determines the credit status of governments and co operations around the globe.
A form of private global governance in which private organizations regulate aspects of global
and economic affairs. Involves a relocation of authority from states and multilateral bodies to
nongovernmental organizations and private agencies.