Nation-States, Transnational Spaces, and Family Linkages



The global transformations of the latter part of the twentieth and early ­twenty-first centuries have been accompanied by critical debates about the role of the nation-state and its relationship to its citizens. As globalization has given rise to new types of concerns and problems, the lines between formerly distinctive realms of decision-making have blurred. Many of today’s issues require for states and governments, at various levels, to interact with other organizations and institutions that are public and private in order to achieve their goals (Castles and Miller 2003). Despite transformations in the very nature, mechanisms, and goals of nation-states, families remain intimately tied to their activities. In a globalizing world, family issues with respect to migration, the aging of populations, changes in men’s, women’s, and children’s roles, and declines in fertility become hotly debated political focal points, and are intricately related to policy decisions. In contrast to the past, however, as nation-states respond to these social dynamics, they are also increasingly bound to powerful transnational forces that may sway them in new and, at times, unpopular directions.

Boundaries between states have opened up since more economies have embraced international trade and capital flows. These phenomena have led to speculation that we are on the verge of a new global order, characterized by forces that circumvent and lessen the sovereignty of the nation-state (Appadurai 1999). As ideas, goods, finances, strategies, images, and people circulate ever more freely, it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between a local concern and a global matter. Information and communication technologies have allowed us insight into far away places and have placed struggles and conditions of far away people into the purview of individuals, who, in the past, may never have left their home community. The connections of the global community are increasingly understood by everyone, and are incorporated into people’s consciousness in previously unimagined ways. However, this phenomenon also has specific implications for conceptualizations of nation-states. Increasingly, the role of the state needs to be understood within a transnational framework, one that disentangles it from its territoriality (Gupta and Sharma 2006). As borders become more permeable, states have had to adopt new concepts of sovereignty.


Welfare State International Monetary Fund World Trade Organization Parental Leave Industrialize World 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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