Challenges to Globalization
The radical transformation of economic structures and the metamorphosis or alterations of geo-political alignments has not only created new opportunities, but has also brought in new challenges on various fronts.
Are the politicization of "traditional" identities and the resurgence of nationalism a response to Western culture and the increasing dominance of liberal capitalism? How has rapid and often unregulated economic transformation exacerbated ethnic and social tensions?
If many of these reactions have been defensive in nature, and are often at odds with democratic principles, neo-liberalism is being increasingly contested by popular democratic forces, including social movements and new transnational networks of civil society organizations. These movements have challenged neo-liberal policy prescriptions and their modes of implementation as anti-democratic and harmful to the poor.
The dismantling of the welfare state in the West and the retrenchment of the state and public services in the developing world have been fiercely resisted. Market forces are as such increasingly at odd with democratization, especially in the developing world.
The empowerment of subordinate groups and the increasing vibrancy of civil society that has accompanied democratic transitions has also, in many instances, triggered demands for more substantive outcomes, including greater equity and new challenges to the dominance of market forces.
In analytical terms two different, though not necessarily exclusive, alternative projects can be identified. The social-democratic response builds on the traditional politics of labor and focuses on the role of an affirmative democratic state in actively alleviating poverty, developing the national economy and managing a more equitable distribution of the gains of global integration.
New social movements, located in the resurgence of civil society, have built on new forms of association such as NGOs to cultivate universal identities (the women's, human rights and environmental movements) and to promote sustainable development and grass roots democracy.
Globalization as Westernization or Modernization (especially in an 'Americanized' form). Here 'globalization' is understood as a dynamic, 'whereby the social structures of modernity (capitalism, rationalism, industrialism, bureaucratism) are spread the world over, normally destroying pre-existent cultures and local self-determination in the process.
Globalization as Deterritorialization (or as the spread of supraterritoriality). Here 'globalization' entails a 'reconfiguration of geography, so that social space is no longer wholly mapped in terms of territorial places, territorial distances and territorial borders. Anthony Giddens' has thus defined globalization as ' the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa. (Giddens 1990: 64). David Held et al (1999: 16) define globalization as a ' process (or set of processes) which embodies a transformation in the spatial organization of social relations and transactions - assessed in terms of their extensity, intensity, velocity and impact - generating transcontinental or inter-regional flows and networks of activity'.