In This Review

Bringing Transnational Relations Back In: Non-State Actors, Domestic Structures and International Institutions
Bringing Transnational Relations Back In: Non-State Actors, Domestic Structures and International Institutions
Edited by Thomas Risse-Kappen
Cambridge University Press, 1995, 323 pp.

This inelegantly titled book makes an important point: transnational actors, from multinational corporations to international nongovernmental organizations, have grown in importance since the 1970s, when they first surfaced as a trendy subject. While the contributors do not deny that states remain the chief decision-makers, the cases studied here document the impact that transnational actors have had in areas from trade policy to security. This influence has emerged not only where one would expect, on secondary issues and in open societies, but on major issues and in closed societies like the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The editor concludes that the degree of influence depends, not surprisingly, on the character of domestic institutions and social arrangements in the countries concerned. One issue not adequately addressed here, except briefly in the essay by Stephen Krasner, is how information technology facilitates the rise of transnational civil societies, and the ways such a borderless world may develop. Krasner is right to point out, however, that current notions of the powers of a sovereign state are tied to the period of industrialism, and that the apparent arrival of transnational actors is really a return to the pattern before this century.