Globalisation's Eclipse of the Nation-State

How Globalisation is Ovrriding the Autonomy of the Nation-State

Globalisation is unifying and connecting countries and regions like never before. This satellite images shows Southern Europe and North Africa. Digital Vision/Getty Images

Globalisation can be defined by five main criteria: internationalisation, liberalisation, universalization, Westernisation and deterritorialisation. Internationalisation is where nation states are now considered less important as their power is diminishing. Liberalisation is the concept where numerous trade barriers have been removed, creating 'freedom of movement.' Globalisation has created a world where 'everyone wants to be the same,' which is known as universalization. Westernisation has led to the creation of a global world model from a Western perspective while deterritorialisation has led to territories and boundaries being "lost."

Perspectives on Globalisation

There are six main perspectives that have arisen over the concept of globalisation; these are "hyper-globalists" who believe globalisation is everywhere and "sceptics" who believe globalisation is an exaggeration which is no different from the past. Also some believe that "globalisation is a process of gradual change" and "cosmopolitan writers" think the world is becoming global as people are becoming global. There are also people who believe in "globalisation as imperialism," meaning it is an enrichment process deriving from the Western world and there is a new perspective called "de-globalisation" where some people conclude globalisation is beginning to break up.

It is believed by many that globalisation led to inequalities around the world and has reduced the power of nation states to manage their own economies. Mackinnon and Cumbers state "Globalisation is one of the key forces reshaping the geography of economic activity, driven by multinational corporations, financial institutions, and international economic organizations" (Mackinnon and Cumbers, 2007, page 17).

Globalisation is seen to cause inequalities due to the polarisation of income, as many labourers are being exploited and working under the minimum wage whilst others are working in high paying jobs. This failure of globalisation to stop world poverty is becoming increasingly important. Many argue that transnational corporations have made international poverty worse (Lodge and Wilson, 2006).

There are those who argue that globalisation creates "winners" and "losers," as some countries prosper, mainly European countries and America, whilst other countries fail to do well. For example, USA and Europe fund their own agricultural industries heavily so less economically developed countries get 'priced out' of certain markets; even though they should theoretically have an economic advantage as their wages are lower.

Some believe globalisation has no significant consequences for less-developed countries' income. Neo-liberalists believe that since the end of Bretton Woods in 1971, globalisation has generated more "mutual benefits" than "conflicting interests". However, globalisation has also caused many so called 'prosperous' countries to have huge inequality gaps, for example the United States and United Kingdom, because being globally successful comes at a price.

Nation State's Role Diminishing

Globalisation led to a significant rise of multinational corporations which many believe undermined the ability of states to manage their own economies. Multinational corporations integrate national economies into global networks; therefore nation states no longer have total control over their economies. Multinational corporations have expanded drastically, the top 500 corporations now control almost one third of global GNP and 76% of world trade. These multinational corporations, such as Standard & Poors, are admired but also feared by nation states for their immense power. Multinational corporations, such as Coca-Cola, wield great global power and authority as they effectively 'place a claim' on the host nation state.

Since 1960 new technologies have developed at a rapid rate, compared to the previous fundamental shifts which lasted for two hundred years. These current shifts mean that states can no longer successfully manage the changes caused by globalisation. Trade blocs, such as NAFTA, reduce nation state's management over their economy. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have a huge impact on a nations' economy, therefore weakening its security and independence (Dean, 1998).

Overall, globalisation has diminished the nation state's ability to manage its economy. Globalisation within the neoliberal agenda has provided nation states with a new, minimalist role. It appears that nation states have little choice but to give away their independence to the demands of globalisation, as a cutthroat, competitive environment has now been formed.

Whilst many argue that the nation state's role in managing its economy is diminishing, some reject this and believe the state still remains the most dominant force in shaping its economy. Nation states implement policies to expose their economies more or less so to the international financial markets, meaning they can control their responses to globalisation

Therefore, it can be said that strong, efficient nation states help 'shape' globalisation. Some believe nation states are 'pivotal' institutions' and argue that globalisation has not led to a reduction in nation state power but has altered the situation under which the nation state power is executed (Held and McGrew, 1999).


Overall, the nation state's power can be said to be diminishing in order to manage its economy due to the effects of globalisation. However, some could question if the nation state has ever been fully economically independent. The answer to this is hard to determine however this would not appear to be the case, therefore, it could be said that globalisation has not lessened the power of nation states but changed the conditions under which their power is executed (Held and McGrew, 1999). "The process of globalisation, in the form of both the internationalisation of capital and the growth of global and regionalised forms of spatial governance, challenge the ability of the nation-state effectively to practise its claim to a sovereign monopoly" (Gregory et al., 2000, pg 535). This increased the powers of multinational corporations, which challenge the nation state's power. Ultimately, most believe nation state's power has diminished but it is wrong to state that it no longer has an influence over the impacts of globalisation.

Works Cited

Mackinnon, D. and Cumbers, A (2007) - "An introduction to Economic Geography" Prentice Hall, London