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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2005, Vol. 5 No. 1 .

Globalization, the Third World State and Poverty-Alleviation in the Twenty-First Century
B. Ikubolajeh Logan (ed)

Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2002
204 pp HB 50.00 ISBN 0-7546-0923-5

This edited volume contains a collection of chapters by individual authors addressing various aspects of globalization. Several of the chapters open with ruminations regarding the definition of globalization, including the introduction, in which the editor introduces a central question of globalization literature: are the current observed trends that we collectively refer to as globalization simply an extension or stage of capitalism, or does globalization represent an entirely new process and experience? Although several authors offer thought-provoking responses to this question, in the introduction Logan offers perhaps the most compelling observation regarding the weak versus strong globalization hypotheses, namely that: ?The scholarly exercise of differentiating between weak versus strong globalization may not be so relevant for the Third World where the major concern is with the effects of the process on the poor? (p. 2). This observation notwithstanding, the bulk of the book is better characterized as scholarly exercise than as concrete analysis of the real world conditions and prospects facing the poor in the Third World.

The collection of chapters is grouped around three principal themes. The first of these revolves around the relationship between states and markets, as several contributors argue that markets and global capital have eroded sovereignty and room for policy-making on the part of national governments of developing countries. A second theme explores how the vacuum left by weakened states is filled by other forms of social organization, particularly civil society and emerging non-state regional networks, and thus also concerns the relationship between democratization and globalization. Finally, a third theme relates to the economic polarization caused by globalization, as Third World countries, particularly those in Africa, become further entrenched in their roles as suppliers of raw materials and natural resources while the rest of the world undergoes structural economic change based on information technology. In principle, each of these themes would be relevant to those interested in ethnic conflict and peace studies, but readers seeking much more than a variety of denunciations of globalization and global capitalism are likely to be disappointed.

In between sets of chapters devoted to Africa, the book contains three seemingly out of place chapters that discuss science parks in Shanghai, importation of labor into Taiwan, and Mexico?s experience with aggressive export-oriented trade and exchange rate policies. At first glance, these chapters appear to have little bearing on the predicaments facing poor populations and governments of Third World countries. However, each offers an example of pro-active policy responses to globalization, and the book as a whole would have benefited from use of such examples to inform concrete propositions as to how the Third World, and Africa in particular, might engage more effectively or respond to the challenges presented by globalization. Instead, the balance of the chapters will appeal most to readers with an interest in discussions of poststructuralism, metanarratives, neo-institutionalism and the like.

Eduard Niesten, Ph.D., Director, Conservation Economics Program, Conservation International

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