Edited by Jonathan Michie
Chapter 18: Governance in a Globalised World
Richard Woodward Throughout the twentieth century, mainstream social sciences proceeded from the premise that human activities corresponded with the territorial boundaries of sovereign states. The privileging of sovereign territoriality by sociologists, economists and political scientists did not reflect a poverty of scholarly thinking but was a by-product of the social world they inhabited (Taylor, 1996). From the seventeenth century onwards the state’s role steadily outgrew the domain of security to encompass commercial, cultural and social responsibilities. By the middle of the twentieth century, in advanced industrialised countries at least, state power had infiltrated the everyday lives of citizens to an unprecedented degree. Meanwhile, at the international level, the Cold War backcloth of two nuclear-armed superpowers poised on the brink of mutual annihilation underscored the view that states constituted the most powerful actors on the world stage. Paradoxically it was the development of nuclear weapons, perhaps the most potent symbol of the state’s power, that instigated a debate about its possible obsolescence. Intercontinental ballistic missile technology enabled states to obliterate each other from a distance. The absence of effective devices to intercept them meant states could not fulfil their elementary mission of guaranteeing the security of their citizens through maintaining their territorial integrity (Herz, 1957). In the following decade, Charles Kindleberger’s (1969, p. 207) remark that ‘the state is just about over as an economic unit’ was another foretaste of transformations afoot in the social world. The amplified intensity, extensity and velocity of cross-border movements of trade, capital, production, people, pollution,...
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