Enacting Globalization

Transnational Networks and the Deterritorialization of Social Relationships in the Global System
  • Barrie Axford
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 9)


Bordernization, de-bordernization and re-bordernization are all features of the contradictory processes of globalization. The boundaries between societies and cultures, never as firm as much social science supposed, are becoming inchoate under the impact of new economic flows, mass and specific population movements, changes in transportation and communications and, most germane to this essay, the ubiquity of transnational networks of actors, which are fast becoming the “new social morphology” of the globalized world (Castells 1996, 469). The idea of a borderless world constituted of spaces rather than territories, of “global webs” (Reich, 1991) and “actor-networks” (Latour, 1993) is a concept that has been appropriated for different purposes depending on the predilection of the theorist. Recently fashionable accounts of the boundary — dissolving power of economic transactions (Ohmae, 1990, 1993) rely on the network analogy to demonstrate the functional rationality carried through regional and global economic flows which, it is argued, are making territorial jurisdictions and national economies redundant. There is an implicit neo-functionalist logic on offer in work of this sort, to the effect that exogenous economic forces will eventually trigger changes in consciousness and spawn, among other things, global consumers, global managers and global companies. But in such imaginings actors more often than not are globalized simply by being there, caught up in the power of global flows, and the social morphology that results is one of thin and instrumental networks, or else, as in micro-realist reworkings of the character of world society, denser networks of transactions and interdependence and relationships dominated by power and interests (Meyer et al, 1997). When all is said and done, diversity of outlook is admissable in a world where new forms of spatial practice are now widely in evidence, and where the deterritorialization of social relationships is in train, but where old scripts and even older fictions — about fixed identities, feelings of ontological security, authenticity and, of course, about territoriality, still abound (Mann, 1996).


European Unity Globalized World World Society Structurationist Perspective Territorial State 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

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  • Barrie Axford

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