In This Review

Distant Proximities: Dynamics Beyond Globalization
Distant Proximities: Dynamics Beyond Globalization
By James M. Rosenau
Princeton University Press, 2003, 445 pp.

In this sweeping study of global change, Rosenau argues that the world is undergoing an epochal transformation driven by relentless scientific and technological advances that collapse time and distance and alter the dimensions of political space. Although some readers will find it a bit top-heavy in concepts, processes, dynamics, upheavals, structures, revolutions, relationships, complexities, and speculations, the book is imaginative. Rosenau's thesis is that globalization is best understood as a dual process of integration and fragmentation -- what he calls "fragmegration." In the new global era, he identifies simultaneous movements toward greater localization and decentralization, on the one hand, and greater centralization and interconnectedness, on the other. The globalizing forces of the information revolution, free markets, and expanding American influence interact with the localizing forces of nationalism, religious fundamentalism, and anti-Americanism. Most of the book is an exploration of the 12 local and global "worlds" that Rosenau believes are emerging within this increasingly complex system. In each, Rosenau finds broader trends greeted and experienced in widely divergent ways by different groups of people -- who variously welcome, resist, adapt to, and transform such pressures. Rosenau convincingly illustrates the increasing complexity of global relationships. Just how epochal these changes are is less clear.