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Seven Theses on Global Society: A Review Essay

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This article critically reviews the literature on global society through global, transnational and local lenses and suggests avenues for further research hitherto neglected in this literature. Accounts of local reactions to globalization are particularly important since this approach valorizes social actors' own understandings of and reactions to global discourses and agendas. I also emphasize the idea that prevailing wisdoms in this literature hold that globalization has expanded the horizon of possibilities for collective social action, without paying due attention to the constraints on social action at the local and the transnational levels.

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Despite efforts by the Indian state to develop and maintain various irrigation strategies, many projects have not achieved the desired results, often due to systemic problems inherent in these initiatives. Meanwhile, the growing scarcity of water in South Asia propels new thinking about remedies. Based on detailed fieldwork, this article, which seems at first completely unrelated to matters of caste discrimination, assesses the sustainability of lift irrigation schemes (LIS) in Andhra Pradesh (AP). Asking critical questions about the management of such schemes, it also addresses the impact of new technologies on rural development, arguing that continuing technology-savvy engagement of the state in the irrigation sector is needed. While it is found that apart from issues of better management, increased use of solar energy could be a real boon for strengthening economic viability and environmental sustainability, the research identifies additional reasons, of a socio-political nature, which may explain why state support for marginal farmers in the area under examination is being withheld.
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Journal of Democracy 7.3 (1996) 38-52 The "civil society argument," as Michael Walzer calls it, is actually a complex set of arguments, not all of which are congruent. In the rough pastiche that has become the commonly accepted version, a "dense network of civil associations" is said to promote the stability and effectiveness of the democratic polity through both the effects of association on citizens' "habits of the heart" and the ability of associations to mobilize citizens on behalf of public causes. Emergent civil societies in Latin America and Eastern Europe are credited with effective resistance to authoritarian regimes, democratizing society from below while pressuring authoritarians for change. Thus civil society, understood as the realm of private voluntary association, from neighborhood committees to interest groups to philanthropic enterprises of all sorts, has come to be seen as an essential ingredient in both democratization and the health of established democracies. Thus summarized, the argument leaves many questions unanswered. Some of these are definitional, arising from the different ways in which civil society has been applied in various times and places. Does it, for instance, include business ("the market") as well as voluntary organizations, or does the market constitute a separate, "private" sphere? If we exclude the market, should we nevertheless include economic associations -- trade groups, professional organizations, labor unions, and the like? What about political organizations? Does it make sense, following Antonio Gramsci, to distinguish "civil" from "political" society? If so, how are we to distinguish between political associations per se and the political activities of groups in civil society, from interest groups to religious bodies, which are intermittently mobilized in pursuit of political goals? Just when does the "civil" become the "political"? Beyond such definitional concerns, there is also the elusive character of the relationship between "civil society" and democratic governance. Just how is it that associations formed among individuals produce the large-scale political and social benefits postulated by the civil society argument? Is the cultivation of "habits of the heart" that encourage tolerance, cooperation, and civic engagement the key? If so, under which circumstances and forms of small-scale interaction are these effects likely to appear? If, as some hold, civil society's chief virtue is its ability to act as an organized counterweight to the state, to what extent can this happen without the help of political parties and expressly political movements? Finally, what prevents civil society from splitting into warring factions (a possibility that theorists since Hegel have worried about) or degenerating into a congeries of rent-seeking "special interests"? What is it about civil society, in other words, that produces the benevolent effects posited by the civil society argument? In attempting to answer these questions, it might be useful to make a rough distinction between two broad versions of the "civil society argument." The first version is crystallized in Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, with important antecedents in the work of the eighteenth-century "Scottish moralists," including Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and Francis Hutcheson. This approach puts special emphasis on the ability of associational life in general and the habits of association in particular to foster patterns of civility in the actions of citizens in a democratic polity. We shall call this family of arguments "Civil Society I." The second version, articulated most forcefully by Jacek Kuron, Adam Michnik, and their associates in formulating a strategy for resistance to Poland's communist regime in the 1980s, is also evident in recent literature on processes of "redemocratization" in Latin America. This argument, which we call "Civil Society II," lays special emphasis on civil society as a sphere of action that is independent of the state and that is capable -- precisely for this reason -- of energizing resistance to a tyrannical regime. It might already be apparent that there is a degree of contradiction between "Civil Society I" and "Civil Society II," for while the former postulates the positive effects of association for governance (albeit democratic governance), the latter emphasizes the importance of civil association as a counterweight to the state. There is no reason in principle why the "counterweight" of civil society should not become a burden to a democratic as well as...
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Norms have never been absent from the study of international politics, but the sweeping “ideational turn” in the 1980s and 1990s brought them back as a central theoretical concern in the field. Much theorizing about norms has focused on how they create social structure, standards of appropriateness, and stability in international politics. Recent empirical research on norms, in contrast, has examined their role in creating political change, but change processes have been less well-theorized. We induce from this research a variety of theoretical arguments and testable hypotheses about the role of norms in political change. We argue that norms evolve in a three-stage “life cycle” of emergence, “norm cascades,” and internalization, and that each stage is governed by different motives, mechanisms, and behavioral logics. We also highlight the rational and strategic nature of many social construction processes and argue that theoretical progress will only be made by placing attention on the connections between norms and rationality rather than by opposing the two.
What is Globalization?
  • Ulrich Beck
Beck, Ulrich (2000) 'What is Globalization?', in David Held and Anthony McGrew (eds) The Global Transformation Reader, pp. 99-104. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Globalization from Below: The Power of Solidarity
  • Jeremy Brecher
  • Tim Costello
  • Brendan Smith
Brecher, Jeremy, Tim Costello and Brendan Smith (2000) Globalization from Below: The Power of Solidarity. Cambridge: South End Press.
The Making of Global Citizenship
  • Richard Falk
Falk, Richard (1993) 'The Making of Global Citizenship', in Jeremy Brecher, John Brown Childs and Jill Cutler (eds) Global Visions, Beyond the New World Order, pp. 39-52. Boston: South End Press.
The Globalization of Modernity
  • Anthony Giddens
Giddens, Anthony (2000) 'The Globalization of Modernity', in David Held and Anthony McGrew (eds) The Global Transformation Reader, pp. 99-104. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
The Local and the Global: Globalization and Ethnicity' and 'Old and New Identities, Old and New Ethnicities
  • Stuart Hall
Hall, Stuart (1997) 'The Local and the Global: Globalization and Ethnicity' and 'Old and New Identities, Old and New Ethnicities', in Anthony D. King (ed.) Culture, Globalization and the World-System: Contemporary Conditions for the Representation of Identity, pp. 19-40 and 41-68. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.
  • Robert Keohane
  • Joseph Nye
Keohane, Robert and Joseph Nye (1972) Transnational Relations and World Politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Reconstructing World Politics: The Emergence of Global Civil Society
  • R Lipshutz
Lipshutz, R. (1992) 'Reconstructing World Politics: The Emergence of Global Civil Society', Millennium 21(3): 389-421.
Global Civil Society and Global Governmentality: Or, the Search for the Missing State Amidst the Capillaries of Power', Paper presented at the conference 'Power and Global Governance
  • Ronnie D Lipshutz
Lipshutz, Ronnie D. (2002) 'Global Civil Society and Global Governmentality: Or, the Search for the Missing State Amidst the Capillaries of Power', Paper presented at the conference 'Power and Global Governance', University of Wisconsin, Madison, April 19-20.
Protests as a Political Resource
  • Michael Lipsky
Lipsky, Michael (1968) 'Protests as a Political Resource', American Political Science Review 62: 1144-58.
Global-Local and Transnational Local-Local Relations in the Transformation of Latin American Civil Societies
  • D Mato
Mato, D. (1998) 'Global-Local and Transnational Local-Local Relations in the Transformation of Latin American Civil Societies', Chicago, Latin American Studies Association, paper presented at the LASA XXI International Congress, 24-27 September.
A Research Based Framework for Analyzing Processes of (Re) Construction of "Civil Societies" in the Age of Globalization
  • Daniel Mato
Mato, Daniel (2002) 'A Research Based Framework for Analyzing Processes of (Re) Construction of "Civil Societies" in the Age of Globalization', in Jean Servaes and Rico Lie (eds) Media and Politics in Transition: Cultural Identity in the Age of Globalization, pp. 127-39. Brussels: ACCO Publishers.
El Banco interamericano de desarrollo, el Banco mundial y la sociedad civil: Nuevas formas de financiamientos internacional
  • Diana Tussie
Tussie, Diana, ed. (1997) El Banco interamericano de desarrollo, el Banco mundial y la sociedad civil: Nuevas formas de financiamientos internacional. Buenos Aires: Consejo Latino Americano de ciencias sociales (CLACSO).
Revolución en el sistema mundo, tesis y interrogantes
  • Immanuel Wallerstein
Wallerstein, Immanuel (1990a) '1968, Revolución en el sistema mundo, tesis y interrogantes', in Rafael Guido Bejar, Otto Fernandez Reyes and Maria Luisa Torregrosa (eds) El Juicio al Sujeto: Un análisis global de los movimientos sociales, pp. 17-41. Mexico City: FLACSO.
Globalización de la cultura y sociedad civil. Caracas: Centro de investigación postdoctorales, Program on Globalization
  • George Yudice
Yudice, George (1997) Globalización de la cultura y sociedad civil. Caracas: Centro de investigación postdoctorales, Program on Globalization, Culture and Social Transformations, University of Central Venezuela. BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
The Globalization of Modernity
  • García Canclini
García Canclini, Nestor (1999) La globalización imaginada. Mexico City: Paídos. Giddens, Anthony (2000) 'The Globalization of Modernity', in David Held and Anthony McGrew (eds) The Global Transformation Reader, pp. 99-104. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.