Par Philip G. Cerny
Review of International Studies (2009), 35, 421–449 Copyright _ British International Studies Association
What has been traditionally conceptualised as ‘the international’ has been undergoing a fundamental transformation in recent decades, usually called ‘globalisation’. Globalisation is a highly contested concept, and even among those who accept that some sort of globalisation process is occurring, attempts to analyse it have focused on a range of structural explanations: the expansion of economic transactions; the development of transnational or global social bonds; and the emergence and consolidation of a range of semi-international, semi-global political institutions. In all of these explanations, the role of actors as agents strategically shaping change has been neglected. In this article I argue that structural variables alone do not determine specific outcomes. Indeed, structural changes are permissive and can be the source of a range of potential multiple equilibria. The interaction of structural constraints and actors’ strategic and tactical choices involves a process of ‘structuration’, leading to wider systemic outcomes. In understanding this process, the concepts of ‘pluralism’ and ‘neopluralism’ as used in traditional ‘domestic’-level Political Science can provide an insightful framework for analysis. This process, I argue, has developed in five interrelated, overlapping stages that involve the interaction of a diverse range of economic, social and political actors. Globalisation is still in the early stages of development, and depending on actors’ choices in a dynamic process of structuration, a range of alternative potential outcomes can be suggested.
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