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Globalization and Fragmentation: International Relations in the Twentieth Century [Hardcover]

Ian Clark

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Book Description

April 1997
As we approach the end of the 20th century, there is widespread interest in globalization which is thought to be shaping our lives technologically, economically, culturally, and in terms of changing political identities. The author takes globalization and its opposite, fragmentation as the organizing themes for a grand retrospective of 20th-century international history. Challenging the presentation of globalization as a pre-ordained, technology-driven, and irreversible process, he argues that both globalization and fragmentation have ebbed and flowed throughout the century, governed by its great formative events: Westernization, the two World Wars, the depression, and the rise and fall of the Cold War. The text sets out an analysis of globalization as a process reflecting political relations both between and within states, and brings together the historical and theoretical study of international relations.

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Tension between integrative and disintegrative forces has already produced the post-cold war world's most significant fault-line. Ian Clark has written the best guide I've seen to these global tectonics and the upheavals we can expect from them. Required reading for anyone concerned with how the past is likely to shape the future. (John Lewis Gaddis, Distinguished Professor of History, Ohio University) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ian Clark is Deputy Director of the Centre of International Studies at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A detailed historical analysis of globalization 10 Mar 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Reviewed by Walter de Mirci in International Relations, Volume XIV, No 1, April 1998
Globalization is perhaps one of the most debated topics of our times. Strongly defended by internationalists and criticized by those who stand to lose most by the new rules of the world game, it also creates confusion among those who experience great difficulty in understanding what globalization really means and how it affects their daily lives.
Ian Clark offers a detailed historical analysis of globalization and its fragmentating effects from the pre-First World War period to the present in Globalization and Fragmentation: International Relations in the Twentieth Century. The author's main objective is to define what drives globalization forward and what globalization's effects are on those forces for fragmentation that lead to greater isolation and often to extreme nationalism.
Clark gives a comprehensive and well-structured perspective clearly divided by historical period. In each chapter he identifies the main trends based on specific historical facts that led to greater globalization as well as their negative effects that gave way to fragmentation. The author's point of view is interesting in that it portrays globalization as a concept that has been evolving since the beginning of the century and not as a result of a new integration and the latest technological innovation.
Clark also argues that globalization arises from evolving state political practices and thus the entire concept should not be depoliticized. In other words, globalization would not exist without the political will of nations. Although Clark rightly believes that globalization is a political process pushed forward by the most powerful states to satisfy their own interests, a concept that could have been further analysed is the effect of even greater technological change like the Internet which bypasses government regulation and is very difficult to control. Furthermore, `emerging markets' are increasingly gaining a wider share of world trade thus playing a more important role on the world stage. In Ian Clark's opinion that might simply be another step in the continuum that was initiated in the early century.
The author states that fragmentary effects will always coexist with the efforts to globalization and thus constantly interact as the state is challenged from the outside because of interdependence and from the inside by the domestic constituency. He also mentions the lack of US leadership as a cause for fragmentation. Clark states that the export of American ideas and values after both the First and Second World Wars greatly contributed to globalization. However, today, there seems to be a tendency towards globalization even when the United States takes a step backward and concentrates on domestic issues.
Clark believes that the formation of regional blocs can be seen as a form of fragmentation. I would suggest, however, that they represent another step towards globalization since there is a move to create some sort of `rapprochement' between these blocs in the longer term as demonstrated by the APEC countries as well as the negotiations between the European Union and the MERCOSUR. The main trend seems to be that states realize that they stand to gain more in the long term from globalization than they will lose. The pressures, however, will persist since no one system creates only winners. As Clark states at the end of his book: `Precisely how the balance between globalization and fragmentation will be adjusted depends on the new role that states are able to forge for themselves, and how successfully they manage to mediate between increasingly potent international pressures and the heightened levels of domestic discontent that will inevitably be brought in their wake'.
Clark's work is very useful for students of international relations at all levels as well as for students of international politics or economics as it provides an excellent background to the world's present political and economic situation. The book is also interesting for all those who fear the great transformation occurring in today's world as a result of globalization as it proves that we are living in today is simply an evolution in a long continuum that began in the early part of this century.
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