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Globalization in Question: The International Economy and the Possibilities of Governance Paperback – 11 Dec 2000

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  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press; 2nd Edition, Fully Revised, Updated and Expanded edition (11 Dec. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745621643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745621647
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.1 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"Paul Hirst and Grahame Thompson offer one of the best and most iconoclastic attempts yet at mapping the new global economy."

Will Hutton, The Observer

"A timely and critical study of the current discussion about the nature and prospects of a global economy."

Business Horizons

"One of those rare books that deserve to be read across the social sciences, from economics to politics, sociology and anthropology. Hirst and Thompson show that views about the international economy widely accepted on the right and the left rest on a series of erroneous factual claims. They make a strong case for a social democratic agenda as not only feasible but also more effective than that of economic liberalism."

Robert Wade, Brown University

From the Back Cover

"Globalization" is one of the key concepts of our time. It is used by both the right and the left as the cornerstone of their analysis of the international economy and polity. In both political and academic discussions, the assumption is commonly made that the process of economic globalization is well under way and that this represents a qualitatively new stage in the development of international capitalism. But is there in fact such a thing as a genuinely global economy? Globalization in Question investigates this notion, providing a very different account of the international economy and stressing the possibilities for its continued and extended governance.

The new edition of this best–selling text has been thoroughly revised, updated and expanded to take into account new issues which have become salient in the period since the first edition was published, including the impact of the internationalization of economic relations on the welfare state; the various debates about the concept of "competitiveness"; the Asian crisis; and the relationships between the North and the South in terms of their effects on wage rates and living standards.

Globalization in Question, Second Edition, is a timely intervention into current discussions about the nature and prospects of globalization. The book has far–reaching implications which will be of interest to students and academics in a number of disciplines including politics, sociology, economics and geography, as well as to journalists and policy–makers.

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First Sentence
Globalization has become a fashionable concept in the social sciences, a core dictum in the prescriptions of management gurus, and a catch-phrase for journalists and politicians of every stripe. Read the first page
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Carlos Mallorquin Suzarte on 28 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
The central intention of the book manages to dissuade us of the idea that we are irremediably governed by the logic of something denominated: globalization. It also reveals the problematic and imprecise use of the term. The central focus of the text is Europe, Japan and the U.S.A., indeed each part of a triad of the constituent neuralgic points of the economic logic that seems to govern the trade flows, and with out which, it is impossible to rethink the reform of the World Economic Order, one in which the perimeter could be made to receive a greater economic flows. Generally regions not included under the triad's aegis, unfortunately represent a declining share in the world economic flows. That is the real theme which guide the authors reflections of the negative consequences of a systematic deterioration of the economies on the perimeter, effects which will force, more sooner than later, political alternatives by the governments of the triads, given the immense migratory forces towards the industrial countries and its derivations in social political conflicts of all types. From the beginning the book problematizes the idea of the existence, or in process, of a global economy: the authors develop ideal types of what could mean such a notion. In relative terms they propose that the world-wide economy for the period between 1870 and 1914 was much more opened, more international and integrated than the present one; greater flow of capitals from the industrial countries towards the developing countries correlatively to the inverse migratory current of a work force.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Globalization in Question (1996 version) 22 Oct. 2003
By Jeffrey Hart - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a book about globalization that has a simple and well-defended thesis: that the debate about the extent of globalization in the world economy is polarized between those who say it is already globalized and those who say globalization is nonexistent or irrelevant. They argue that the truth (as usual) lies somewhere in between.
-- there is a vast difference between a strictly global economy and a highly internationalized economy in which most companies trade from their bases in distinct national economies. In the former national policies are futile, since economic outcomes are determined wholly by world market forces and by the internal decisions of transnational companies. In the latter national policies remain viable, indeed they are essential in order to preserve the distinct styles and strengths of the national economic base and the companies that trade from it (p. 185).

Because the academic debate is between polarized positions, it has been less than helpful as a guide to political actors. The myth of extreme globalization, in the author's view, "exaggerates the degree of our helplessness in the face of contemporary economic forces," (p. 6) while the denial of globalization makes it difficult to address the very real problems of governance posed by an "internationalized" world economy.

Governance is defined here (somewhat vaguely) as the "control of an activity by some means such that a range desired outcomes is attained..." (p. 184). It is meant to represent activities carried out not just by governments of nation-states but also by supranational organizations like the European Union, transnational actors like the multinational corporations, and subnational actors like the regional and provincial governments of federal national systems. While internationalization of the world economy creates incentives and opportunities for international governance that bypasses or transcends national governments, national governments will still have a role, say the authors, in assuring that the new governance structures are coherent and (if coherent) democratic.

The book contains some interesting arguments about the changing nature of governance in Europe, especially since the formation of the European Union. In Chapter 7, the authors assert that responsibility for governance in Europe has shifted to some extent toward the Union level, but also to some extent toward the local and regional (provincial) level, in order to compensate for the inability of national governments to address certain problems. According to the authors, "Regions are small enough to possess 'intimate knowledge' and yet sufficiently large to aid and regulate local economies through a significant revenue base." [p. 167] However, the authors also assert that the national level will remain significant because the "Union could not conceivably create central institutions fast enough and with enough legitimacy to achieve an effective federal-regional division of labor, marginalizing national government sin most economic regulatory functions." [p. 168] As a result, "Europe will be divided into successful and failing regions.." [p. 168]. While this is not a very cheerful prediction, it is a well-argued one.

In general, I found the authors' arguments about the continued relevance of national governments persuasive. I also liked their point about the increased importance of subnational and supranational regions. However, I found the discussion of the activities of multinational corporations (MNCs) in Chapter 4 to be rather dull and long-winded, despite the fact that the authors were presenting their own analysis of newly collected data. The main assertion made in that chapter was that MNCs are not very global yet, since most of their production (and other important activities) is still national, and most of their international activity is with neighboring countries. This is not a particularly novel point, and it could have been made in a crisper and more interesting manner.

Chapter 2 does a good job of placing the debate about economic globalization in historical perspective by looking at data on internationalization prior to World War I. The main point of this chapter is to show that the current upturn in internationalization is not unprecedented.

Chapter 3 provides a useful overview of data on the growth of foreign direct investment since the end of World War II. It is a little deficient in its discussion of the rapid increase in Japanese FDI since the 1980s, but it does a good job of describing the general phenomenon. Toward the end of the chapter however, the authors attempt to speculate about whether the growth in investment activity by multinational corporations can help to reduce global economic inequalities, but only rather cursorily and inconclusively, thus weakening the impact of the earlier empirical arguments.

Chapter 5 of the book is devoted to the question of whether the developing countries of the Third World have benefited from internationalization. In this chapter, the authors argue that most of the people of the Third World have not benefited from internationalization but that they must do so in the future, even if this means greater market intervention on the part of the world's governments. Hirst and Thomson are pessimistic about the ability of Third World countries to copy the policies of rapidly growing Asian countries like Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea. They agree with Paul Krugman that the rapid growth of the Asian newly industrializing countries (NICs) will not last because of the exhaustion of the benefits from converting from agricultural to industrial pursuits. Finally, they point out that NICs depended on relatively open markets for their exports in North America and Europe, and that the growing protectionism in the industrialized countries reduces the likelihood of future success in export-led growth strategies. The main changes the authors advocate to produce "a fairer world" are more foreign aid, "ethical private capital investment," and policies to improve the terms of trade for developing countries [p. 120]. I found this chapter to be overly pessimistic about the future prospects of developing countries and weak on prescriptions for change.

I was disappointed by the authors' avoidance of any serious attempt to define rigorously the key concepts of globalization and governance, but, on the whole, I found this book to be well written and well argued. I would recommend it as supplementary reading for upper division undergraduate and beginning graduate students. Its primary strength is that it contains a reasoned and reasonable thesis about the limits of contemporary economic globalization.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Antidote for the globalist myth 26 Sept. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
The authors make this "Globalization In Question" a great antidote for people (especially in the Business and Administration area) that can't stop repeating that "the world is globalized, the world is globalized" like parrots. It's very pleasing to have some kind of skepticism about this whole discussion. In countries of the Third World, this talk about globalization is particularly dangerous since glued to it comes the neoliberal talk. And don't be scared by all the "economics". After reading this one, I can garantee that you will pay more attention to the books you're buying about the "global world".
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