Global Civil Society and Reinterpreting Sovereignty


Globalization has been one of the major trends in the economies and policies of the countries of the world. This phenomenon is present almost in any sphere of human activity such as the business with multinational corporations, healthcare combatting epidemics in different parts of the world and other. Although this process has affected multiple states, opinions regarding its outcomes differ. One group of people believes that globalization benefits diverse communities by means of bypassing the state borders, geographic location, communication and access to information issues. Their opponents fear that the emergence of a global civil society would critically harm national identities of diverse nations and ethnicities. Both sides refer to relevant evidence, which is why this paper analyzes it and summarizes the effect of formation of a global civil community on the national sovereignty of various countries. The analysis demonstrates that although the governments fear globalization because it endangers their sovereignty the reinterpretation of the concept of sovereignty would allow them preserving their economic, political and cultural identity.

Globalization and Sovereignty

The outcome of the fact that globalization started several decades ago results in its thorough investigation and the emergence of various theories about its causes, consequences and the basis of its driving force. For instance, some scholars characterize it as an irreversible, evolutionary and linear process on the basis of technological change, which determines upon the social, political and economic realities that have to survive. It means that if the global society obtains certain benefits, they are the cause or the attending circumstances of losing its certain features. As a result, having an evolutionary nature, the process of globalization is “about both creation and destruction of novelties, and the cumulative process that these entail”. This complex process embraces almost any sphere of the society bringing not only integration of markets and economic liberalization, but the universalization of a global culture with de-territorialized societies and economies. Local and separated states fail to ignore or regulate these processes because the community typically bypasses its powers by means of technology. Observing the results of globalization, some experts classify it as “a new geography of power”, which many people tend to associate with the operation of business across borders with ease. Multinational companies produce a critical impact on globalization because they develop and promote a single corporate culture across borders and diverse cultures. One of the best examples of this is McDonald’s, which is one of the most successful food giants in the world. It has about 34,000 restaurants, 1.7 million employees in 119 countries serving 69 million people each day having 65% of sales from international revenues. The employees work at the restaurants with a similar design, wear similar clothes and offer almost the same food choice disregarding the country they operate. For instance, a typical global food choice offered by McDonald’s consists of World Famous Fries, Big Mac, Quarter Pounder and Chicken McNuggets. If a person happens to visit this restaurant in the US, Canada, Germany, Russia or any other country, he or she would experience one of the outcomes of globalization. As more and more companies go global, the world has a perspective of having multinational companies as regulators of different economic and cultural ties on the basis of their interests.


The effects of globalization are also present in other spheres of the social activity such as the international law and economics mainly because of technology. For instance, there is a need for establishing a new legal regime for regulating cross-border economic transactions and the sphere of economic activities that take place in electronic space. The reason for this is that the electronic space takes a function of a major dimension of any operation, which allows bypassing territorial jurisdiction. Experts claim that globalization intensified the virtualization of economic activity in such industries as finance and specialized corporate service. The major outcome of technology going global in this sense is that it boosted the speed of transactions together with the emergence of the need for their digital control and validation of transparency issues. As a cause of the influence of technology, the foreign currency markets obtained a perspective of “escaping the governing capacities of private and government overseers”. This evidence demonstrates that some of the features of the former diversity of the world’s countries such as technology, law, economy, culture, politics and other undergo critical changes. The identified challenges may be described as both causes and consequences of the formation of global civil society, which is free from constant ties with their local communities for the sake of a global one. As a consequence, each country enters in a duality of relationships between the national state and the global economy where each part attempts gaining more global benefits than losing one’s interests. Experts presume that such relationship would always be a loss for a separate state because all countries seem to be declining in a globalized economy. For instance, when a corporation offshores industrial or clerical workforce to countries as China or Mexico it adds to the global process of dispersal and internationalization. On the one hand, this situation is for the benefit of a business because the selected countries have cheaper workforce. However, the national government faces with a difficulty of capturing elusive taxes of corporations that operate in multiple countries because offshoring creates a space economy that bypasses “the regulatory umbrella of the state”. This situation is one of the causes of reinterpreting the image of the national sovereignty because the stable economic system of the country assures its stability and existence.

Reinterpreting Sovereignty

The question of sovereignty and the possible harm of globalization is highly debatable in the contemporary society because of the fear that countries would gradually lose it. Some scholars characterize the process of globalization as an erosion of national sovereignty as a consequence of spreading “economic capitalism”, which is why contemporary anti-globalization movements oppose the activity of the “agents” of globalization. The cause of their economic and political opposition to the West is highly controversial because many non-western countries such as India or China are also deeply involved in globalization. The experience of these countries demonstrates that they face the problems of another origin the mitigation of which by a global community did not affect their sovereignty. In this respect, the major issue is poverty and unemployment, which leads to the growth of poor population, loss of control of the spheres of education and health care and other. Before entering the global community, the population of India, for instance, was reluctant to the problem of slums and poor sanitation. As the global businesses refused to offshore to India because the cities as Mumbai were filled with slums, the government of the country changed its mind. As a consequence, young, cheap, trainable labor of India got an opportunity to obtain the job and live in a community without slums. Though this problem of India is not solved, this example demonstrates that the sovereignty of India was affected mostly in cognitive and economic spheres. This effect was positive because as India decided to become a part of a globalized community its government realized that the country should meet specific standards to attract investors. Globalization also changes its shape in a response to the claims that it endangers the local communities and the sovereignty of the states. For instance, the contemporary offshoring policy of McDonalds can be characterized as “glocalization”, which is demonstrated by the enhancement of the menu with items catering to local preferences and cultural tastes. Thus, some companies include the preferences of the local markets and policing in order to adequately merge with the local culture.

The analysis of the issue demonstrates that the developed countries fear globalization because of the three issues. They are the weakened control of a local economy, substitution of the domestic policies by international ones, and the growing regulatory power of international organizations. The process of globalization is unstoppable, which is why the nations and the governments have to adapt to it in order to ensure the well-being of the society. This means that there is a need for reinterpreting the traditional notion of sovereignty for it to suit contemporary realities in the economy, law, and policy. In this respect, scholars propose shifting from the traditional “Westphalian” sovereignty, which grants complete autonomy of the nation within their territories. Instead, the governments should form a concept of popular sovereignty, which grants the citizens the right to govern themselves through the constitutional basis. This solution requires approving the superiority of the Constitution over all other powers including international laws and norms in order to preserve the state system and the established benefits of democracy. By this means, it would be possible to regulate globalization through the framework of the commonly adopted legal and political norms of the country. On the one hand, it may seem that neglecting the international law because of the preference to domestic Constitution may harm the values of the international community. Nevertheless, the main role of the government in this process is to preserve the state system from its gradual elimination by regular practices of bypassing its power in the economic, legal and political spheres. Therefore, the suggested reconceptualization of the notion of sovereignty would allow the governments of the world’s countries preserving it from evaporation by means of legal and political regulatory force of the Constitution.


The contemporary spread of globalization is so comprehensive that it endangers the sovereignty of multiple countries. Its power leads to the fact that multinational corporations and digital communication allow global citizens bypassing the regulatory power of their domestic states because of the appeals to international policies. Moreover, it becomes difficult for the governments to control the political, economic and social aspects of their societies, which is why they seek for solutions to this problem. The performed analysis suggests that reconceptualization of the idea of sovereignty allows granting its survival in diverse globalized countries. The reason for this is that the progress of globalization is irreversible and inevitable, which is why the government has to consider this factor. However, the governments can control its local influence through the framework of the Constitution that defends the interests of the popular sovereignty. Therefore, the governments of different nations have to interact with the global community through the framework of Constitution instead of the international policing, which would protect their states’ sovereignty from evaporation.