Social Movements for Global Democracy

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Social Movements for Global Democracy

By Jackie Smith
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007
304 pp. $55.00
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Transnational citizen groups seeking to shape the economic and political world order are one of the least studied aspects of globalization. This book, by a Notre Dame sociologist, provides the best survey yet of these social movements. Smith depicts an international system in which the basic struggle is between those who support market forces and a global society of citizens and states who are embracing a wider array of values and aspirations -- "neo-liberal" globalizers, who emphasize open markets and economic efficiency, versus "democratic" globalizers, who champion citizen participation, human rights, and the environment. She finds a dramatic expansion in the numbers and variety of transnational citizen groups over the last two decades and a steady growth in their sophistication. The big question, of course, is whether and how they have an impact, and here Smith suggests that their influence, although difficult to measure, is felt primarily in how they challenge the legitimacy of business practices, trade agreements, and international economic decision-making. Smith's book nicely illuminates the emerging world of global civil society, providing tools for its ongoing study.