In This Review

The Nation-State in Question

The Nation-State in Question
By T. V. Paul (ed.), G. John Ikenberry (ed.), and John A. Hall
384 pp, Princeton University Press, 2003

This impressive volume brings together political scientists and sociologists to assess what effects globalization has had on the state. Simplistic early views of globalization held that increasing openness and interdependence, together with the benign post-Cold War security environment, would rob states of their historical role and capacities while fueling the rise of supranational actors such as the European Union and subnational actors such as nongovernmental organizations. The essays here are part of a later wave of more balanced scholarship that moderates such breathless, often hysterical conclusions. The contributors show that states are not likely to disappear or lose much significance anytime soon. In summing up the findings, the editors note that "as in the past, state capacities continue to evolve, declining in some areas and rising in others. There are no rival political formations -- local, regional, transnational, or global -- that have the full multidimensional capacities of the state." Although not entirely novel or startling, this conclusion is backed up by an unusually comprehensive collection of historical and comparative research on economic and security issues in the advanced industrial and developing worlds. Unfortunately, as in so much contemporary academic work, many of the chapters are presented in such a way as to minimize their accessibility to intelligent and potentially interested general readers.