Transboundary Politics

  • Jason Beckfield
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)

This chapter reviews contemporary research on the causes and consequences of politics and polities that cross national boundaries. The study of “globalization” exploded in the social sciences in the 1990s (Hargittai and Centeno 2001; Fiss and Hirsch 2005), and the rapid expansion of this emergent field continues as of this writing. Indeed, the pace of growth presents challenges to researchers interested in the political dimension of “globalization,” not only because of the discipline-crossing quality of the emerging field, but also because of a general lack of conceptual clarity and consensus in the literature (see the recent reviews by Brady et al. [2007] and Guillén [2001]). The analysis of globalization stands at what can be characterized as a basic conceptual and descriptive stage: if there is a kernel of truth in the intuition that something political is going on at a level above, between, or among nation states, how is it to be understood? Which of the concepts “transboundary,” “transnational,” “international,” “non-national,” “post-national,” “de-nationalizing,” “globalizing,” and “regionalizing,” are most helpful, why, and how would we know? With the goal of providing a framework for this sprawling literature, I argue that network theory and analysis offer useful ways of thinking about what has been characterized as globalization, as well as fruitful techniques for identifying its causes and effects.


European Union Welfare State World Trade Organization European Union Member State Intergovernmental Organization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am grateful to Craig Jenkins and Kevin Leicht for helpful comments and conversations.


  1. Alderson, Arthur S. and Francois Nielsen. 2002. “Globalization and the Great U-Turn: Income Inequality Trends in 16 OECD Countries.” American Journal of Sociology 107:1244–1299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alderson, Arthur S. 2004. “Explaining the Upswing in Direct Investment: A Test of Mainstream and Heterodox Theories of Globalization.” Social Forces 83:81–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Armingeon, Klaus and Michelle Beyeler, Eds. 2004. The OECD and European Welfare States. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  4. Axelrod, Robert. 1997. The Complexity of Cooperation. Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Babb, Sarah. 2007. “Embeddedness, Inflation, and International Regimes: The IMF in the Early Postwar Years.” American Journal of Sociology 113:128–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bartley, Tim. 2007. “Institutional Emergence in an Era of Globalization: The Rise of Transnational Private Regulation of Labor and Environmental Conditions.” American Journal of Sociology 113:297–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beckfield, Jason. 2003. “Inequality in the World Polity: The Structure of International Organization.” American Sociological Review 68:401–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beckfield, Jason. 2006. “European Integration and Income Inequality.” American Sociological Review 71:961–985.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Beckfield, Jason. 2008. “The Dual World Polity: Fragmentation and Integration in Intergovernmental Organizations.” Social Problems 55:419–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Beckfield, Jason and David Brady. 2008. “Globalization, Social and Economic Aspects of.” Pp. 332–335 in William A. Darity, Jr. Ed International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd Edition. Detroit: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  11. Berezin, Mabel. 2008. Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Security, Democracy and Populism in a New Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Berezin, Mabel and Martin Schain, Eds. 2003. Europe Without Borders: Remapping Territory, Citizenship and Identity in a Transnational Age. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Bob, Clifford. 2005. The Marketing of Rebellion: Insurgents, Media, and International Activism. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Boli, John and George M. Thomas. 1997. “World Culture in the World Polity: A Century of International NonGovernmental Organization.” American Sociological Review 62:171–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Boli, John, Thomas A. Loya, and Teresa Loftin. 1999. “National Participation in World-Polity Organization.” Pp. 50–77 in J. Boli and G.M. Thomas, Eds. Constructing World Culture: International Nongovernmental Organizations Since 1875. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Bornschier, Volker, Ed. 2000. State-Building in Europe: The Revitalization of Western European Integration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Boswell, Terry and Christopher Chase-Dunn. 2000. The Spiral of Capitalism and Socialism: Toward Global Democracy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
  18. Brady, David, Jason Beckfield, and Martin Seeleib-Kaiser. 2005. “Economic Globalization and the Welfare State in Affluent Democracies, 1975–1998.” American Sociological Review 70:921–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Brady, David, Jason Beckfield, and Wei Zhao. 2007. “The Consequences of Economic Globalization for Advanced Democracies.” Annual Review of Sociology 33:313–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Brooks, Clem and Jeff Manza. 2007. Why Welfare States Persist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  21. Buttel, Frederick H. 2000. “World Society, the Nation State, and Environmental Protection.” American Sociological Review 65:117–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Caporaso, James and Sidney Tarrow. 2007. Polanyi in Brussels: European Institutions and the Embedding of Markets in Society. Unpublished manuscript, University of Washington.Google Scholar
  23. Carrington, Peter J., John Scott, and Stanley Wasserman, Eds. 2005. Models and Methods in Social Network Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Centeno, Miguel, Dir. 2008. International Networks Archive. Princeton University.
  25. Checkel, Jeffrey T. 1999. “Social Construction and Integration.” Journal of European Public Policy 6:545–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Chorev, Nitsan. 2005. “The Institutional Project of Neo-Liberal Globalism: The Case of the WTO.” Theory and Society 34:317–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Cole, Wade M. 2005. “Sovereignty Relinquished? Explaining Commitment to the International Human Rights Covenants, 1966–1999.” American Sociological Review 70:472–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dan, Oana. 2008. “United in Diversity: The Determinants of European Union Citizenship.” Unpublished manuscript, Harvard University.Google Scholar
  29. Della Porta, Donatella, Massimiliano Andretta, Lorenzo Mosca, and Herbert Reiter. 2006. Globalization from Below: Transnational Activists and Protest Networks. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  30. Diehl, Paul, Dir. 2008. The Correlates of War Project. University of Illinois.
  31. Dobbin, Frank. 2008. “The Poverty of Organizational Theory.” Theory & Society 37:53–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Dobbin, Frank, Beth Simmons, and Geoffrey Garrett. 2007. “The Global Diffusion of Public Policies: Social Construction, Coercion, Competition, or Learning?” Annual Review of Sociology 33:449–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Duina, Francesco. 2005. The Social Construction of Free Trade. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Evans, Peter and James E. Rauch. 1999. “Bureaucracy and Growth: A Cross-National Analysis of the Effects of ‘Weberian' State Structures on Economic Growth.” American Sociological Review 64:748–765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ferrera, Maurizio. 2005. The Boundaries of Welfare. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Firebaugh, Glenn and Brian Goesling. 2004. “Accounting for the Recent Decline in Global Income Inequality.” American Journal of Sociology 110:283–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Fiss, Peer C. and Paul M. Hirsch. 2005. “The Discourse of Globalization: Framing and Sensemaking of an Emerging Concept.” American Sociological Review 70:29–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Fligstein, Neil. 2008. Euroclash. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Fligstein, Neil and Iona Mara-Drita. 1996. “How to Make a Market: Reflections on the Attempt to Create a Single Market in the European Union.” American Journal of Sociology 102:1–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Fligstein, Neil and Alec Stone Sweet. 2002. “Constructing Polities and Markets: An Institutionalist Account of European Integration.” American Journal of Sociology 107:1206–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Frank, David John, Ann Hironaka, and Evan Schofer. 2000. “The Nation State and the Natural Environment over the Twentieth Century.” American Sociological Review 65:96–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Gartzke, Erik. 2007. “The Capitalist Peace.” American Journal of Political Science 51:166–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Gartzke, Erik, Quan Li, and Charles Boehmer. 2001. “Investing in the Peace: Economic Interdependence and International Conflict.” International Organization 55:391–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Gourevitch, Peter. 2008. “The Role of Politics in Economic Development.” Annual Review of Political Science 11:137–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Guillén, Mauro F. 2001. “Is Globalization Civilizing, Destructive, or Feeble? A Critique of Five Key Debates in the Social Science Literature.” Annual Review of Sociology 27:235–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hafner-Burton, Emilie N. and Kiyoteru Tsutsui. 2005. “Human Rights in a Globalizing World: The Paradox of Empty Promises.” American Journal of Sociology 110:1373–1411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Hall, Peter A. and David Soskice, Eds. 2001. Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Hall, Peter and Rosemary C. R. Taylor. 1996. “Political Science and the Three New Institutionalisms.” Political Studies 44:936–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Hargittai, Ezster and Miguel A. Centeno. 2001. “Introduction: Defining a Global Geography.” American Behavioral Scientist 44:1545–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Held, David, Anthony McGrew, David Goldblatt, and Jonathan Perraton. 1999. Global Transformations: Politics, Economics, and Culture. Stanford University Press. Introduction (pp. 1–29).Google Scholar
  51. Henisz, Witold J., Bennet A. Zelner, and Mauro F. Guillén. 2005. “The Worldwide Diffusion of Market-Oriented Infrastructure Reforms.” American Sociological Review 70:871–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Huber, Evelyne and John D. Stephens. 2001. Development and Crisis of the Welfare State. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  53. Ingram, Paul, Jeffery Robinson, and Marc Busch. 2005. “The Intergovernmental Network of World Trade: IGO Connectedness, Governance and Embeddedness.” American Journal of Sociology 111:824–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Jacobson, Harold K. 1979. Networks of Interdependence: International Organizations and the Global Political System. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  55. Katzenstein, Peter J. 2005. A World of Regions. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Katzenstein, Peter J., Robert O. Keohane, and Stephen D. Krasner. 1998. “International Organization and the Study of World Politics.” International Organization 52:645–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Kay, Tamara. 2005. “Labor Transnationalism and Global Governance: The Impact of NAFTA on Transnational Labor Relationships in North America.” American Journal of Sociology 111:715–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Keck, Margaret E. and Kathryn Sikkink. 1998. Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Chapter 1 (pp. 1–38).Google Scholar
  59. Keohane, Robert O. 1984. After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Kim, Sangmoon and Eui-Hang Shin. 2002. “A Longitudinal Analysis of Globalization and Regionalization in International Trade: A Social Network Approach.” Social Forces 81:445–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Koopmans, Ruud and Paul Statham. 1999. “Challenging the Liberal Nation-State? Postnationalism, Multiculturalism, and the Collective Claims Making of Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Britain and Germany.” American Journal of Sociology 105:652–696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Korpi, Walter. 1983. The Democratic Class Struggle. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  63. Korpi, Walter. 2003. “Welfare-State Regress in Western Europe: Politics, Institutions, Globalization, and European-ization.” Annual Review of Sociology 29:589–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Korpi, Walter and Joakim Palme. 2003. “New Politics and Class Politics in the Context of Austerity and Globalization: Welfare State Regress in 18 Countries, 1975–1995.” American Political Science Review 97:425–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Marks, Gary and Doug McAdam. 1996. “Social Movements and the Changing Structure of Political Opportunity in the European Union.” West European Politics 19:249–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Martin, John Levi. 2003. “What is Field Theory?” American Journal of Sociology.Google Scholar
  67. Meyer, John W., John Boli, George M. Thomas, and Francisco O. Ramirez. 1997. “World Society and the NationState.” American Journal of Sociology 103:144–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Moghadam, Valentine. 2005. Globalizing Women: Transnational Feminist Networks. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Moravcsik, Andrew. 1998. The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  70. Oneal, John R. and Bruce M. Russet. 1997. “The Classical Liberals Were Right: Democracy, Interdependence, and Conflict, 1950–1985.” International Studies Quarterly 41:267–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Paxton, Pamela, Melanie M. Hughes, and Jennifer L. Green. 2006. “The International Women's Movement and Women's Political Representation, 1893–2003.” American Sociological Review 71:898–920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Pierson, Paul. 1996. “The Path to European Integration: A Historical Institutionalist Analysis.” Comparative Political Studies 29:123–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Polillo, Simone and Mauro Guillén. 2005. “Globalization Pressures and the State: The Worldwide Spread of Central Bank Independence.” American Journal of Sociology 110:1764–1802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Ruggie, John. 1998. Constructing the World Polity: Essays on International Institutionalization. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Sassen, Saskia. 2006. Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Scharpf, Fritz W. 1999. Governing in Europe: Effective and Democratic? Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Schmidt, Vivien A. 2006. Democracy in Europe: The EU and National Polities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Schofer, Evan and Ann Hironaka. 2005. “The Effects of World Society on Environmental Protection Outcomes.” Social Forces 84:25–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Schofer, Evan, Francisco O. Ramirez and John W. Meyer. 2000. “The Effects of Science on National Economic Development, 1970 to 1990.” American Sociological Review 65:866–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. 81.
    Silver, Beverly A. 2003. Forces of Labor: Workers' Movements and Globalization Since 1870. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  81. Simmons, Beth A., Frank Dobbin, and Geoffrey Garrett, Eds. 2008. The Global Diffusion of Markets and Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  82. Simmons, Beth A. and Zachary Elkins. 2004. “The Globalization of Liberalization: Policy Diffusion in the International Political Economy.” American Political Science Review 98:171–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Sklair, Leslie. 2001. The Transnational Capitalist Class. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  84. Slaughter, Anne-Marie. 2004. A New World Order. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  85. Smith, Jackie and Dawn Wiest. 2005. “The Uneven Geography of Global Civil Society: National and Global Influences on Transnational Association.” Social Forces 84:621–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Soysal, Yasemin. 1994. Limits of Citizenship: Migrants and Postnational Membership in Europe. University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  87. Staples, Clifford L. 2008. “Cross-Border Acquisitions and Board Globalization in the World's Largest TNCs, 1995–2005.” The Sociological Quarterly 49:31–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Tarrow, Sidney. 2005. The New Transnational Activism. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Turner, Bryan S. 2007. “The Enclave Society: Towards a Sociology of Immobility.” European Journal of Social Theory 10:287–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Valente, Thomas W. 2005. “Network Models and Methods for Studying the Diffusion of Innovations.” Pp. 98–116 in Carrington, Peter J., John Scott, and Stanley Wasserman, Eds. Models and Methods in Social Network Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Viterna, Jocelyn and Kathleen M. Fallon. 2008. “Democratization, Women's Movements, and Gender-Equitable States: A Framework for Comparison.” American Sociological Review 73:668–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Walby, Sylvia. 1999. “The New Regulatory State: The Social Powers of the European Union.” British Journal of Sociology 50:118–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Waldinger, Roger and David Fitzgerald. 2004. “Transnationalism in Question.” American Journal of Sociology 109:1177–1195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Waltz, Kenneth. 1979. Theory of International Politics. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  95. Ward, Michael D., Randolph M. Siverson, and Xun Cao. 2007. “Disputes, Democracies, and Dependencies: A Reexamination of the Kantian Peace.” American Journal of Political Science 51:583–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Wasserman, Stanley and Katherine Faust. 1994. Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Wendt, Alexander. 1999. Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  98. Wimmer, Andreas and Brian Min. 2006. “From Empire to Nation-State: Explaining Wars in the Modern World, 1816–2001.” American Sociological Review 71:867–897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Zielonka, Jan. 2006. Europe as Empire: The Nature of the Enlarged European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Zippel, Kathrin S. 2006. The Politics of Sexual Harassment: A Comparative Study of the United States, the European Union and Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason Beckfield
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations