chapter  30
15 Pages

Globalization and the Changing Logic of Collective Action


Globalization, however, is changing all that. Globalization is defined here as a set of economic and political structures and processes deriving from the changing character of the goods and assets that comprise the base of the international political economy-in particular, the increasing structural differentiation of those goods and assets. “Structures” are more or less embedded sets-patterns-of constraints and opportunities confronting decision-making agents (“institutions” simply being more formalized structures); “processes” are dynamic patterns of interaction and change that take place on or across structured fields of action. Structural differentiation increasingly is spreading across borders and economic sectors, driving other changes and resulting in the increasing predominance of political and economic structures and processes that (1) are frequently (although not always) more transnational and multinational in scale (i.e., are in significant ways more inclusive) than the state, (2) potentially have a greater impact on outcomes in critical issueareas than does the state (i.e., may in effect be more “sovereign”), and (3) may permit actors to be decisionally autonomous of the state. In particular, I argue that the more that the scale of goods and assets produced, exchanged, and/or used in a particular economic sector or activity diverges from the structural scale of the national state-both from above (the global scale) and from below (the local scale)—and the more that those divergences feed back into each other in complex ways, then the more that the authority, legitimacy, policymaking capacity, and policy-implementing effectiveness of states will be challenged from both without and within. A critical threshold may be crossed when the cumulative effect of globalization in strategically decisive issue-areas undermines the general capacity of the state to pursue the common good or the capacity of the state to be a true civil association; even if this threshold is not crossed, however, it is arguable that the role of the state both as playing field and as unit becomes structurally problematic.