Distant Proximities: Dynamics beyond Globalization / Edition 1

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Overview

"The recently bygone bipolar world of the Cold War looks simple in comparison to the complexities of today's globalizing era. Professor James Rosenau, in this wide-ranging masterwork of conceptual synthesis, develops a new vocabulary—distant proximities, fragmegration, glocalization—to help us explore the contradictory impact on our times of worldwide economic and electronic integration; religious, ethnic, and tribal hatreds; information overload; and terrorism. Individuals, communities, nation-states, and international structures are all struggling to accommodate the dynamics of today's unprecedented social and economic change. Rosenau's powerful yet nuanced analysis encompasses the agenda of our times—income disparities, human rights violations, corruption, high tech violence—and he leaves us pondering whether global and community governance will be able to cope with the challenges of a fragmegrative world."—Richard H. Solomon, President, U.S. Institute of Peace

"For some years now, James N. Rosenau has been writing imaginatively about the systemic role of empowered individuals on the world stage, utilizing as his organizing principle possible complementarities in opposing tendencies—as in the title of this latest book. But never before has his work seemed so relevant to this morning's headline while probing so deeply into the very foundations of social space/time. And behind it all stands an enduring commitment to open-minded inquiry: 'checkableupableness,' Rosenau calls it. In a discipline consumed by Methodenstreite, here is an important book that at once soars above, and uncovers powerful fields of forces beneath, the standard fare."—John Gerard Ruggie, Harvard University

"Like so much of Rosenau's work, Distant Proximities is enormously thoughtful and insightful. It pushes the way we think about global politics dramatically beyond the traditional or eurocentric model of states in a state system and, though highly abstract, actually deals with issues that matter to most people in today's globalizing world. It is classically Rosenau."—Richard W. Mansbach, Iowa State University, author of Politics, Authority, Identity, and Change

"This book contains all of Rosenau's strengths. It is imaginative—replete with novel insights, concepts, and ideas. It looks to the future rather than to the past. It is based on a very broad literature that goes far beyond normal disciplinary confines. Rosenau always searches for the new and interesting, and for those anomalies that set the mind to look for explanations. He takes his own advice to attempt 'theoretical jailbreaks,' and to dare to tread where others are more timid. The book is very well written, and its author is to be applauded for getting his readers to 'think outside the box.'"—Kal Holsti, University of British Columbia, author of The State, War, and the State of War

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Economic Issues - Cecilia Ann Winters
James Rosenau's book is no doubt his magnum opus, providing a detailed, multi-faceted analysis of globalization's complexities in an ever-shrinking world of uncertainty, change, and contradiction.
From the Publisher
"In this sweeping study of global change, Rosenau argues that the world is undergoing an epochal transformation driven by relentless scientific and technological advances that collapse time and distance and alter the dimensions of political space. . . . Rosenau convincingly illustrates the increasing complexity of global relationships."—Foreign Affairs

"James Rosenau's book is no doubt his magnum opus, providing a detailed, multi-faceted analysis of globalization's complexities in an ever-shrinking world of uncertainty, change, and contradiction."—Cecilia Ann Winters, Journal of Economic Issues

Foreign Affairs
In this sweeping study of global change, Rosenau argues that the world is undergoing an epochal transformation driven by relentless scientific and technological advances that collapse time and distance and alter the dimensions of political space. . . . Rosenau convincingly illustrates the increasing complexity of global relationships.
Journal of Economic Issues
James Rosenau's book is no doubt his magnum opus, providing a detailed, multi-faceted analysis of globalization's complexities in an ever-shrinking world of uncertainty, change, and contradiction.
— Cecilia Ann Winters
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691095240
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Distant Proximities

Dynamics beyond Globalization
By James N. Rosenau

Princeton University Press

James N. Rosenau
All right reserved.

ISBN: 069109523X


Chapter One

AN EMERGENT EPOCH

[G]lobalization is bringing peoples closer apart and places further together.
   - John Rennie Short1

The news on the state of the world is both good and bad. Each day brings word of a world inching slowly toward sanity even as it moves toward breakdown. And not only do these integrative and disintegrative events occur simultaneously, but more often than not they are also causally related. More than that, the causal links tend to cumulate and generate a momentum such that every integrative increment tends to give rise to a disintegrative increment, and vice versa. This intertwining of the good and the bad, the global and local, the public and the private, the coherent and incoherent-to mention only a few of the interactive polarities that dominate world affairs-is a central theme of the ensuing pages. It is a theme captured by the book's title, by the idea that what seems remote in the present era also seems close-at-hand, thereby compelling individuals and collectivities alike to cope continuously with the challenge of distant proximities.2

The same theme is implicit in the subtitle of the book. It does not refer to a new world order, an eventualworld government, or a colonization of Mars. Rather, the subtitle highlights the insufficiency of globalization as a concept with which to organize understanding of world affairs. Not that the concept is vague or simply a buzzword shorn of meaning by being applied to too many diverse circumstances. On the contrary, there are concrete, empirical dynamics at work that can properly be regarded as processes and structures of globalization. But all the dynamics are extraordinarily complex and require considerable nuance to comprehend their deeper implications and widespread consequences. Beyond globalization, in other words, lies conceptual equipment that, if used as a supplement to the analytic tools commonly employed to probe globalization, can substantially clarify, enrich, and expand our grasp of the course of events as the twenty-first century unfolds.3 Indeed, a central argument of the book is that the best way to grasp world affairs today requires viewing them as an endless series of distant proximities in which the forces pressing for greater globalization and those inducing greater localization interactively play themselves out. To do otherwise, to focus only on globalizing dynamics, or only on localizing dynamics, is to risk overlooking what makes events unfold as they do. As one cogent observer put it,

I use the local and the global as prisms for looking at the same thing. . . [I]t would be wrong to think that you either work at one or the other, that the two are not constantly interpenetrating each other. . . [W]hat we usually call the global, far from being something which, in a systematic fashion, rolls over everything, creating similarity, in fact works through particularity, negotiates particular spaces, particular ethnicities, works through mobilizing particular identities, and so on.4
 
Other analysts express a similar perspective by contending that
 
[g]lobalization and localization unite at all spatial scales. There is little, and maybe nothing, that is global that does not have some sort of a local manifestation. And each local manifestation changes the global context. Place centredness is the amalgam of global change and local identity. Every place reveals itself at a variety of scales. Local perceptions are shaped by global influences, the combinations of which process local actions. These in turn are fuelled by local aspirations, many of which are the product of global images and expectations. All these local activities accumulate to create chaotic but global outcomes.5

It follows, then, that a secure grasp of world affairs requires, at the very least, forming a habit of pausing to assess any distant proximities that may underlie or flow from the situations in which one is interested.

In so doing, however, one quickly discovers that distant proximities are not simple interrelationships, readily discernible and easily understood. Distant proximities encompass the tensions between core and periphery, between national and transnational systems, between communitarianism and cosmopolitanism, between cultures and subcultures, between states and markets, between urban and rural, between coherence and incoherence, between integration and disintegration, between decentralization and centralization, between universalism and particularism, between pace and space,6 between the global and the local-to note only the more conspicuous links between opposites that presently underlie the course of events and the development or decline of institutions. And all these tensions are marked by numerous variants; they take different forms in different parts of the world, in different countries, in different markets, in different communities, in different professions, and in different cyberspaces, with the result that there is enormous diversity in the way people experience the distant proximities of which their lives are composed. Whatever the diversity, however, locating distant proximities at the center of our perspectives on politics enables us to avoid the disciplinary trap of maintaining an analytic separation between foreign and domestic politics, as is the case when international politics and comparative politics are treated as different fields of inquiry, with each holding constant the dynamics at work in the other.

To identify a variety of complex tensions and polarities, however, is not to imply that they necessarily involve zero-sum relationships. Many do have this characteristic, as is clearly indicated in the assertion that "the fundamental conflict in the opening decades of the new century . . . will not be between nations or even between trading blocs but between the forces of globalization and the territorially based forces of local survival seeking to preserve and redefine community."7 Yet, as will be seen, the tensions that sustain other polarities are nonzero-sum in character, with their globalizing dynamics serving to reinforce, or to be reinforced by, their localizing components. That is why distant proximities cannot be treated as simple relationships. They are rooted in complexity, in complementary as well as competitive processes.8

It follows that distant proximities do not revolve around the attentiveness of people to news from abroad. Even if the widespread preoccupation with worldwide terrorism after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon proves to be a temporary blip in a long-term pattern,9 to cite the numerous statistics depicting how little American media cover foreign developments and thereby sustain the parochialism of their audiences is not to negate the concept of distant proximities. Rather, the latter involve the foreign travel experiences of individuals and their friends, the messages they receive from relatives abroad, the ways in which their jobs are linked to or threatened by foreign trade, and a host of other word-of-mouth or electronic inputs that underlie the ever-greater interdependence of life in a shrinking world. Furthermore, while the parochialism of the American people may be considerable in terms of exposure to foreign news, the same cannot be said of counterparts in other countries, all of which have enough adjacent and regional neighbors to be continuously reminded of the proximity of distant events and trends. Nor may the parochialism of Americans return to earlier levels once the shock of the terrorist attacks has worn off. As one analyst put it three days after September 11, "This is the end: the end of an era, the era of our invulnerability. We will recover physically, even psychologically, but nothing will ever be quite the same again. A barrier has been irrevocably breached: a barrier against the world outside."10

To comprehend the nature and dynamism of distant proximities, clearly we need to explore both the phenomena viewed as distant and those considered proximate before assessing how the tensions resulting from their interactions play out in diverse contexts. To do so, of course, is to move beyond objective circumstances. Distance is not measured only in miles across land and sea; it can also involve less tangible spaces, more abstract conceptions in which distance is assessed across organizational hierarchies, event sequences, social strata, market relationships, migration patterns, and a host of other nonterritorial spaces. Thus to a large extent distant proximities are subjective appraisals-what people feel or think is remote, and what they think or feel is close-at-hand. There is no self-evident line that divides the distant from the proximate, no established criteria for differentiating among statistics or situations that are reflective of either the more remote or the close-at-hand environment. In other words, nearness and farness connote scale as well as space. Both are ranges across which people and their thoughts roam; and as they roam, they can be active in both geographic locales and scalar spaces that have been socially constructed.11 Each is a context, a "habitat of meaning,"12 a mind-set that may often correspond with spatial distance even as there are other scalar contexts that can make the close-at-hand feel very remote and the faraway seem immediately present.13

To ponder the nature and ramifications of distant proximities in a time of vast changes, therefore, is to consider what, when, how, and why people experience some dimensions of their lives and some phenomena in their perceptual space as marvelously or threateningly close. In some cases wide intersubjective agreement prevails as to the appropriate spatial classification; in other cases controversy is intense over where lines between the distant and the proximate should be drawn; and it is both the areas of consensus and the disputes they sustain that underlie the dynamism of distant proximities as they are experienced by both individuals and their collectivities.

Clarifying the Polarities

Having already mentioned several polarities, it is important to clarify their relations to each other and the sense in which they differentiate good from bad. Most notably, there is no necessary connection between the good-and-bad dimension of any of the polarities just noted. Some aspects of the several poles are desirable, and some are noxious. Globalization has both positive and negative features, as does localization, and much the same can be said about the coherence-incoherence and integration-disintegration polarities.14 Coherence and integration normally seem preferable to incoherence and disintegration, but it is not difficult to think of situations-South Africa during the apartheid era comes quickly to mind-with an excess of coherence that could benefit from a period of incoherence and disintegration.

In a like manner, nothing in the pages that follow should be interpreted as implying that the centralizing processes inherent in globalization are preferable to the decentralizing processes that accompany localization. It is all to the good when globalizing dynamics lead international organizations to concert their efforts against corruption or when corporations converge around new, more open attitudes toward environmental problems, but it is surely bad if states collude to ignore corrupt practices and corporations maintain their position that environmental threats have yet to be demonstrated. Similarly, it is all to the good when localizing dynamics lead to decentralizing processes in which opposition voices are encouraged and democratic practices expanded, but it is surely bad if these processes result in a fragmentation that tears communities apart and facilitates the rule of petty tyrants.

In short, more so than in the past because time and space have been so rapidly compressed, we live in an era of pervasive contradictions that give rise to polarities subject to diverse normative judgments. Such evaluations cannot be avoided, but they can be explicated as one works through the contradictions and interprets their implications. In this way there ought be no confusion over the normative stance that underlies any empirical conclusions the analysis yields. Depending on the consequences to which they give rise-whether they elevate or denigrate individuals or groups-distant proximities can be viewed as expressive of a trend that portends future progress or one that points toward retrogression. In the case of some distant proximities, of course, their consequences have still to become fully manifest, and their normative implications thus remain correspondingly obscure.

Since distant proximities encompass polarities that are bound to take inquiry beyond globalization, it would be a mistake to view them as little more than a means of analyzing the processes and dynamics of globalization. Conceived in this larger context, globalization is but one component of the transformative dynamics that underlie the emergence of a new epoch in the human condition. It is, to be sure, a major component, but all too many analyses suffer from treating it as the primary component and thus risk underplaying the complexity of the emergent epoch. There is a need, for example, to recognize that localization is also a powerful force at work throughout the world, that cities, provinces, and other subnational groups are also seeking to realize their goals, that by 2030 some 60 percent of the world's people will live in cities, and that consequently localization is multiplying the range of policy environments as globalization shrinks the world.15 We live in a messy world, one that is marked by sharp contradictions comprehensible only through nuanced analysis that accords significance to numerous forces that can-and often do-undermine, limit, or otherwise redirect globalizing processes.

Violins offer a useful metaphor for distinguishing between previous epochs in world affairs and the complexities of the one that is presently emerging. Just as a poorly built violin halts and dampens the sound of each note, confining it to its own limited frequency and ceasing as soon as the bow leaves the string, so has the world in earlier epochs tended to retain the effects of events locally, muffling their impact on other systems and restraining their duration. In contrast, the expansionary, enduring character of distant proximities in the present global system is analogous to a good violin. Every note triggers a series of overtones that resonate with the remaining strings through the body of the whole instrument, both amplifying and sustaining the sound. In the case of the violin it is the difference between mere sounds and music; in world affairs it is the difference between international politics and dynamics beyond globalization.<<br>
Continues...


Excerpted from Distant Proximities by James N. Rosenau Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables ix
Preface xi
Acknowledgments xv
Part One
Theoretical Perspectives: Recasting Global Life 1
Chapter One
An Emergent Epoch 3
Chapter Two
People, Collectivities, and Change 18
Chapter Three
Sources and Consequences of Fragmegration 50
Chapter Four
Local Worlds 79
Chapter Five
Global Worlds 118
Chapter Six
Private Worlds 153
Chapter Seven
Movement among Twelve Worlds 170
Chapter Eight
Emergent Spaces, New Places, and Old Faces: Immigrants and the Proliferation of Identities 184
Part Two
Conceptual Equipment: Retooling the Storehouse 203
Chapter Nine
Normative and Complexity Approaches 205
Chapter Ten
The Skill Revolution 232
Chapter Eleven
The Information Revolution: Both Powerful and Neutral 256
Chapter Twelve
Structures of Authority: In Crisis or in Place? 273
Chapter Thirteen
Spheres of Authority 293
Part Three
Issues, Processes, and Structures as Distant Proximities 315
Chapter Fourteen
Progress toward Human Rights 317
Chapter Fifteen
Retreat from Human Rights: The Challenge of Systemic Hatred 336
Chapter Sixteen
Corruption as a Global Issue 348
Chapter Seventeen
Prosperity and Poverty 369
Chapter Eighteen
Governance in Fragmegrative Space 390
Part Four
Postscript 403
Chapter Nineteen
A Transformed Observer in a Transforming World: Confessions of a Pre-Postmodernist 405
Author Index 421
Subject Index 427

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