POLS 3250 Chapter Notes -Aalborg University, Global Governance, Identity Politics
Globalization, Power and Authority. The Emergence of New
Author(s): Ulf Hedetoft, Aalborg University
Ulf Hedetoft is Professor of International Studies and Director of The Academy for Migration Studies
in Denmark (AMID). This paper was presented at the Fourth MCRI Globalization and Autonomy
Team Meeting at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, 23-25 September
Globalization, Power and Authority
Globalization can be viewed as a set of processes that derives from, but also transcends, the
parameters on which nation-states and internationality are constructed. Such a view challenges the
way in which structures of power and authority are configured in a Westphalian, state-centric
perspective, as deriving from inside state borders and from the international interaction of states
(Beck 2000; Scholte 2003; Strange 1996). For most nation-states and international institutions
constructed around principles of egalitarianism and symmetrical interdependence, globalization
implies less financial control, more political vulnerability, increased levels of (inter)dependence, new
supraterritorial processes, and transnational networks. It also entails more pronounced hierarchies of
power and new political cleavages between binary properties of state and government that, in an
ideal way, belong closely together. One of these is the nexus between power and authority.
I concur with David Held and his colleagues (1999) who argue that globalization transforms "the
spatial organization of social relations and transactions" and with Michael Cox's (1994) insistence that
globalization makes "states into agencies of the globalizing world," rather than vice versa. As I have
argued in earlier writings (Hedetoft 2003; 2004), a distinguishing feature of this global order is that
even reactive forms of anti-globalizing measures need to take account of and often, despite their
outspoken intentions, end up strengthening globalization. It should be added that globalization is not,
and certainly no longer can be viewed as, merely the outgrowth of the invisible hand of the
marketplace, of economic forces and financial flows. It is an increasingly controlled and politically
engineered process of neo-imperial design and concomitant power struggles intended to control,
constrain, and give direction to the ever more intense and multiple transborder dynamics which we
rightly dub globalization. These processes deeply affect forms and substances connected with power,
authority, legitimacy, and sovereignty (Grande and Pauly 2005; Hedetoft forthcominga; Wade 2003).
The important implication is that globalization, though undoubtedly a challenge to states, does not
point us in the direction of a single world without states, without political borders, and devoid of
national interests. Rather, it creates a new political, technological, and economic environment for
state behaviour, a new set of power relations, and a new division of labour, within which states ???
according to the resources, influence, traditions, autonomy, and adaptability that they can muster ???
are left to cope as best they can (Baylis and Smith 1997; Gray 1999; Held et al. 1999). In some
Globalization, Power and Authority. The Emergence of New Connectivities 1
cases, particularly developing countries, this is a negative experience of increasing inequality,
poverty, or even bankruptcy. Many other states will learn to adapt (possibly benefit) or to cooperate
along new lines (e.g., regionally or by means of new competitive parameters), while the most
powerful ??? the makers and beneficiaries of globalization (whether state or non-state actors) ???
face a potential win-win situation (Campbell et al. forthcoming; Mittelman 2000; Williamson 1990).
Although globalization may well, in the long run, tend toward singularity and (more) global
homogeneity, it is significant to recognize that states are positioned differentially in the global context.
Globalization, therefore, has different consequences and implications for different actors, according to
whether they are weak or strong, big or small, rich or poor, how they are positioned relative to the
global centers of political and economic gravity, how much weight they are able to pull in pivotal
international institutions, and how adequate and innovative state and corporate strategies are for
dealing with global challenges (Hirst and Thompson 1996). Eduard Ponarin frames Russia in this
context, stating that "[w]hile European countries associate globalization with good economic
prospects, military security, and other advantages that may induce even the French to swallow the
burger, Russians associate pro-western reforms with economic hardship and Russia's loss of global
prestige" (Ponarin 1999, 3). Globalization from this prevalent Russian perspective, is clearly
associated with a loss of power and international authority (Blum forthcoming; McAuley 1997).
Ponarin's equation of globalization and Western political strategies, however, overlooks that Western
states are themselves affected differently, and not always positively by global forces.
More often than not, such normative assessments, strategies of accommodation, and consequent
outcomes are deeply embedded in the way they have been determined, shaped, or at least coloured
by historical developments, (dis)continuities, and relations ??? both domestic and external, and both
regarding the longue dur??e and more recent history (Hopkins 2002).
The model proposed in Figure 1 tries to take account of the most salient of these multiple factors of
globalization. It rests on the assumption that key aspects of global pressures and reactive forms, and
thus of the dynamics of power and authority, can be identified by analyzing reflexive relations
between globalization and four national "nodes": sovereignty, mass/elite interaction, political
history/collective identity, and security and threat scenarios. The four nodes can hardly be disputed
as being at the core of national self-images and perceptions of independence, though it might be
argued that they are not exhaustive. Even so, they ??? and their mutual and multiple inter-linkages
??? provide a useful matrix for delineating the major challenges that globalization represents to
contemporary statehood and attendant structures of power and authority.
Figure 1: Globalization and the Dynamics of Power and Authority
Starting from the top, the most immediate victim of globalization is sovereignty. "Ultimate control" of
the "state of exception" (Schmitt 1932/1996) is made increasingly difficult by transnational flows of
money, capital, goods, and (to a more limited extent) people. Institutionalized legal or normative
regimes of rights and values come into conflict with the exclusive authority of states within their own
(no longer so) secure borders. Financial, technological, natural, and political resources on which
sovereignty is predicated increasingly elude most states, which find themselves embroiled in ever
more committal and ineluctable networks of (often regional) collaboration in order to cushion the
blows of global pressures ??? the EU being a prime case in point (Grande and Pauly 2005; Hedetoft
The levels and depths of what John Tomlinson has termed "complex connectivity" have reached a
point where de jure and de facto sovereignty increasingly part ways, and where, in some cases,
Globalization, Power and Authority. The Emergence of New Connectivities 2
sovereignty is no longer an operative feature of nation-states Instead, nation-states have to look for
new avenues of influence, autonomous spaces of manoeuvre and collaboration,1and novel forms of
governance (rather than traditional government) in order to pursue policy preferences that constantly
need to adapt to, constrain, or benefit from an ever more present globalizing context. National
interests and national sovereignty, but also power and authority, tend to become divorced from each
other in this process. This is the case most acutely for small, weak, or vulnerable states, or states
facing serious changes of international standing and recognition. On the other hand, more powerful
states, notably the United States, are able to proactively impact, even engineer, globalization to
match national preferences (Hedetoft forthcominga; Foot et al 2003; Wade 2003). Political
globalization, therefore, is not an anonymous, almost invisible process beyond political control. It is
increasingly an institutionally orchestrated and designed configuration of forces shifting the
symmetrical structure of the international order toward asymmetry and hierarchy, distributing benefits
and drawbacks unevenly, subdividing the world into weak and strong more clearly than before, and
hence re-ordering the landscape of power in fundamental ways. Forms of dependence for some
contrast with degrees of independence for others. Where many states have to seek compensation for
the loss of sovereignty in new forms of autonomy, others find their sovereignty as well as their
projected external power reinforced by globalization. This does not imply that globalization is
necessarily a drawback for smaller and medium-sized states. They can certainly benefit, but whether
they do so or not depends on minutiae of strategic adaptation to global centrifugal forces, over which
they have little control (Campbell et al 2006; Cohen and Clarkson 2004; Katzenstein 1985).
Moving clockwise on the model, globalization threatens to intervene in the elite/mass nexus by
producing increased levels and new forms of disaggregation and distrust between the two
components, which cut both ways. Clearly, however, this depends on the forms of globalization that
are most relevant to different states, on the modalities of trust or distrust preceding the "intervention"
of global pressures, and on the forms of governance chosen by political leaderships in order to cope
with globalization ??? choices invariably linked to the status of particular states in the international
order. In general terms, however, the disaggregating effect of globalization pertains to the
transformation process of traditional sovereignty discussed above. The more sovereignty and political
control at the national level are diminished and constrained, the more political preferences and forms
of collaboration at the elite level will be oriented toward transnational thinking and practices. The real
scope for political choices by democratic national citizenries at the domestic level will also be
narrowed. This tends to affect structures of authority in multiple ways. In terms of ontological security,
it means that the trust electorates might place in elected leaders will be counteracted by the ever
more conspicuous dependence of these leaders on global (i.e., extra- and supra-territorial) flows and
decision-making structures in the fields of trade regulation, international security, migration control, or
human rights. Leaders' increasingly active participation in such transnational processes may also
diminish this trust. Thus, the real or imagined feelings of living within secure, ordered, and separate
national universes will tend to dwindle, and popular disenchantment with elites will tend to increase.
Conversely, if trust and political confidence were already moderate before the global turn, these novel
developments can add extra fuel to such sentiments.
On the other hand, the very same developments give rise to crucial forms of political reaction too ???
reactions which aim either to maintain the compact between government and population or to forge
new, global signifiers of loyalty and identity, inter alia in the form of global (or regional) democratic
practices and norms. The possible consequence of both these options is the creation of new
horizontal cleavages, at the popular as well as elite levels, and, on aggregate, the uneasy
co-existence of new (global), moderate (liberal), and traditional (nationally conservative) politics.
Globalization, Power and Authority. The Emergence of New Connectivities 3