International Organization


Globalization and the changing logic of collective action

Philip G. Cernya1

a1 Professor of International Political Economy at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom.


Globalization transforms collective action in domestic and international politics. As the scale of markets widens and as economic organization becomes more complex, the institutional scale of political structures can become insufficient for the provision of an appropriate range of public goods. A process of this sort occurred prior to the emergence of the modern nation-state, which itself constituted a paradigmatic response to this predicament. Today, however, a complex process of globalization of goods and assets is undermining the effectiveness of state-based collective action. Overlapping “playing fields” are developing, made up of increasingly heterogeneous—transnational, local, and intermediate—arenas. The residual state retains great cultural force, and innovative projects for reinventing government are being tried. Nevertheless, the state's effectiveness as a civil association has eroded significantly, and this may lead to a crisis of legitimacy.