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John Boli, Selina Gallo-Cruz, and Matt Mathias
World-polity theory is a widely used sociological perspective for the analysis of world culture, organization, and change. Also known as world-society theory, global neo-institutionalism, and the “Stanford school” of global analysis, world-polity theory is largely compatible with the globalization perspective associated with Roland Robertson and the cultural analysis approach of anthropologists Ulf Hannerz and Arjun Appadurai. Proponents of world-polity theory argue that rationality, purposes, and interests are profoundly cultural constructs bound up in an over-arching canopy (or underlying foundation) that endows actors with properties, identity, meaning, interests, and guides to action. The theory also recognizes the key role played by international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) in the formation, codification, and propagation of world culture. The intellectual foundations of world-polity theory can be traced to the work of its founder, John W. Meyer, as well as Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Erving Goffman. Two institutional domains of world society that have generated the most attention in world-polity theory are the responsible and responsive state, and the sacred and empowered individual. A variety of criticisms have emerged regarding world-polity theory, such as the alleged failure of world-polity research to address issues of inequality and stratification more directly. Among other issues, future research should focus on elucidating the ontological structure and normative order of global culture, as well as the historical origins, growth, and development of world culture, transnational organization, and global actor models over the longue durée (the past millennium or so).
Robert A. Denemark
World system history is a perspective on the global sociopolitical and economic system with a structural, long-term and transdisciplinary nature. The intellectual origins of the study of world system history can be characterized by three general trajectories, beginning with the work of global historians who have worked to write a “history of the world.” Attempts were also made by scholars such as Arnold Toynbee to write global history in terms of “civilizations”. A second pillar of world system history emerged from anthropology, when many historians of the ancient world, anthropologists, and archaeologists denied the importance of long-distance relations, especially those of trade. A third pillar emerged from the social sciences, including political science and sociology. One of the central ideas put forward was that sociopolitical and economic phenomena exhibited wave-like behavior. These various intellectual strands became self-consciously intertwined in the later 1980s and 1990s, when scholars from all of these traditions began to cross disciplinary boundaries and organize their own efforts under the rubric of world system history. This period saw Gunder Frank and Barry K. Gills questioning the value of identifying a uniquely modern system based on a transition to capitalism that was said to have occurred in the West. Frank and Gills introduced the “continuity hypothesis,” which suggests that too much scholarly emphasis has been placed on the search for and elucidation of discontinuities and transitions. World system history faces two important challenges from determinism and indeterminacy, and future research should especially address the implications of the latter.
Marc D. Froese
After World War II, a body of rules and institutions have emerged for the purpose of regulating global flows of goods and services. These are known as world trade law, classified under international economic law, an expanding body of transnational regulatory treaties and institutions. World trade law has evolved within the global trading system following the Second World War, beginning with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which came into force in 1948. The most-favored nation and national treatment principles are the most prominent principles that give world trade law its distinctive form. The World Trade Organization (WTO) provides a vast store of literature, which covers the waterfront of legal and political issues that animate the global political economy of trade. The WTO’s predecessor, the GATT, also contributed extensively to the growing body of literature on world trade law. The WTO’s inclusion of agreements on the liberalization of services, investment, and intellectual property have begun lively debates about the possible trajectories of governance in new issue areas, such as anti-dumping and intellectual property rights. In addition to the issues raised by the inclusion of many small economies in the institutions of global trade governance, the rise of world trade law has simultaneously highlighted the many areas of importance to national publics in developed economies where trade overlaps with social priorities.
Lars Rensmann and Jennifer Miller
The emergence of widespread xenophobia and anti-immigrant politics has raised the following questions: What are the explanatory factors and cultural conditions for the relative salience of xenophobic attitudes in the current era—and why is there a varying demand in different countries? Which independent variables on the supply side explain the emergence and the diverging success or failure of “anti-immigrant parties” as well as variations of mainstream anti-immigrant discourses and campaigns in electoral politics? What causal mechanisms can be found between contextual, structural, or agency-related factors and anti-immigrant party politics, and what do we know about their emergence and their dynamics in political processes? These questions are addressed by demand-side, supply-side, as well as mixed models. Demand-side approaches focus on the conditions that generate certain anti-immigrant attitudes and policy preferences in the electorate, on both the individual and the societal level, as key explanatory variables for anti-immigrant policies. Supply-side approaches turn to the role of political agency: They explain the salience and variation of anti-immigrant politics mainly by the performance of parties which mobilize, organize, and (as “agenda setters”) generate them. Mixed models include both sets of explanatory variables and a “third” set of institutional and discursive factors, such as electoral rules, party competition, and ideological spaces in electoral marketplaces.