Globalisation, the nation-state and global society



This article examines the notion that globalisation has resulted in the decline of the nation-state. It argues that during most of its history globalisation was in fact associated with the rise of the nation-state through the construction of overseas empires that extended and strengthened it. The development of global political organization has reinforced the nation-state through the growth of international organizations based on the principle of national sovereignty. It is transnational flows, networks, and organizations that have challenged the authority of the nation-state. These do not, however, float in a global limbo but are always rooted in and dependent upon some nation-state or other. Transnational movements can embarrass nation-states but have little real impact upon them and challenge them far less than did the nationally based labour movements that have been undermined by globalisation. Some see globalisation as leading to a global society transcending national units but this view overlooks the continued importance of national institutions and international relationships, and the emergence of strong regional organizations, in a society that is essentially multi-level rather than global in character.