Complex Sovereignty: Reconstituting Political Authority in the Twenty-first Century

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Complex Sovereignty: Reconstituting Political Authority in the Twenty-first Century
By Louis W. Pauly
University of Toronto Press, 2007
360 pp. $27.95
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This book is part of an ambitious undertaking by a group of Canadian scholars to map the ways globalization is altering political and social institutions. According to Grande and Pauly, the most fundamental struggle occurring across the world system -- at all levels of political and social life -- is between globalization and autonomy. Globalization ties together what people do and what they experience -- and it transforms the way individuals operate in time and space. But it also threatens the autonomy of individuals or communities to decide their own fate. As depicted in this book, the world is engaged in a constant battle between these deep forces. Growing connectivity between societies brings with it modernizing possibilities but also threatens to undermine the self-governance of local communities and of nation-states. Globalization, in this collective portrait, is not making the world flat; it is making it more complex. Authority and sovereignty are being redistributed all up and down the global system. Grande and Pauly call for more concerted efforts to reform global institutions -- but it is precisely the growing complexity of the system that makes a 1940s-style reorganization of multilateral governance so difficult.