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Article

Markus Thiel and Jeffrey Maslanik

“Transnational” is a frequently mentioned key word in international relations today; it is used to denote in a simplifying manner an organization working beyond state boundaries and acting independently from traditional state authorities. The scholarly recognition of such actors occurred relatively late in the field and advanced with the acceleration of globalizing economic, political, cultural, and social processes. Despite the appearance of transnational actors as a topical and palpable concern for academics and practitioners alike, questions of conceptual vagueness and relational indeterminacy remain, and the continual proliferation of these entities lend urgency to the need for more scholarly attention to these agents.

Article

Kenneth A. Gould and Tammy L. Lewis

Transnational social movements are defined as movements wherein members in at least two nations cooperatively engage in efforts to promote or resist change beyond the bounds of their nation. Over the last 20 years, research on transnational social movements has proliferated in tandem with rapid globalization. The scholarship draws upon research conducted by sociologists and political scientists on national social movements and extends it to a global level. Similar questions and concepts applied to national or subnational movements are now applied to transnational movements: Why do they emerge? What are their processes? What are their consequences? Concepts such as political opportunity structure, which have been used to analyze the timing and outcomes of national social movement organizations’ actions, are being extended to understand how the international political arena shapes movements. The majority of work has been case specific and focused on a handful of movements: the human and indigenous rights movements, the women’s movement, the labor movement, and the environmental movement. Over time, this theorizing moved beyond borrowing concepts intended to explain local and national movements to generate concepts and propositions unique to the particularities of local-global/transnational movements. One of the limitations of the work to date is the lack of comparative work and theoretical development. The next stage of research should build upon the empirical work that has been generated by assessing propositions comparatively.

Article

Women’s activism has assumed an international dimension beginning in the nineteenth century. Transnational feminism has been shaped by debates over a wide range of issues: how to name and describe feminist inspired action that crosses national borders; how to create organizations, networks, and movements that acknowledge the multiple power differentials that exist among women while still allowing for concerted political action; and how to craft effective mobilization strategies in the face of highly differing forms of activism. These debates have fueled a surge in scholarly interest in the transnational activities of feminist groups, transforming the ways in which women’s studies, political science, international relations, sociology, and geography investigate the relationships between national and international levels of politics. The scholarship on transnational feminist actions has been influenced in large part by the concept of transnational advocacy networks/transnational feminist networks, which often bring together multiple kinds of actors such as social movements, international nongovernmental organizations, and more nationally or locally based actors. Another issue tackled by scholars who are politically committed to the goals of transnational feminist activism is how feminists are likely to achieve their goals and produce change through their transnational activities. These scholars can be expected to continue to develop their own research agendas on transnational feminist activism and to influence how transnational politics and globalization are studied in other fields.

Article

Rodrigo G. Pinto

Social science research on environment and activism with a cross- or transnational scope (REACTS) is described as a consolidated but confused, stagnant field of scholarship, one which has yet to surpass the comparable state of international studies at large. Previous reviews of the literature in this growing and interdisciplinary research domain have gone so far as so divide it into either its cross-national or its transnational branch, respectively associated with cross-national and environmental social science (CESS), or transnational and environmental social science (TESS). As evidence of stagnancy, once the CESS and TESS branches of REACTS are combined, changes in the cross-national research agenda have been merely the reverse of the transnational one. From 1969–75, REACTS literature covered the themes of population, catastrophic limits to growth, interstate conferences and organizations, North–South relations, survivalist/lifeboat ethics, resource and land conservation, and the social movement organization/non-governmental organization/"third sector." From 1977–91, the issues covered shifted to emphasize violence/conflict, counter environmentalist backlash, seal hunting, whaling, rural energy (improved bioenergy cookstoves), and possibly baby foods, though the earlier concerns with population, (nature) conservation, interstate conferences and survivalist/lifeboat ethics continued. The resistance literature was considerably consolidated and there was a quantitative change in the attention that environmental activism itself received within the pre-existing orientations. In the post-1992 era, the thematic array of transnational REACTS expanded even further as additional issues made it to the agenda in international and environmental studies.

Article

Transnational human rights networks refer to a form of cross-border collective action that seeks to promote compliance with universally accepted norms. Principled transnational activism began to draw sustained scholarly attention after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and the creation of a new type of information-driven and impartial transnational activism, embodied in organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Scholarship on transnational human rights networks emerged during the 1990s within the subfield of International Relations and as a challenge to the state-centric and materialist bias of the field. In their 1998 book Activists beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics, Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink describe the key role that transnational human rights groups play in global affairs. Focusing on rights-based activism, Keck and Sikkink show how transnational advocacy networks (TANs) can influence domestic politics. The concept of TANs is dominated by the purposeful activism of nongovernmental organizations and driven by shared principles, not professional standards. A number of studies have challenged the core assumptions about the effectiveness of principled human rights activism, arguing that international support plays no significant role compared to the autonomous efforts of domestic activists. One way to overcome these challenges and criticisms is for the transnational activist sector, as well as other types of non-state actors, to move beyond the principles/interests dichotomy and take a closer look at the internal dynamics of participant NGOs.

Article

Roger A. Coate, Jeffrey A. Griffin, and Steven Elliott-Gower

Interdependence is a key structural feature of the international system. While ambiguity exists over the concept and its usage, interdependence is central for explaining the nature and dynamics of international organization (IO), as well as international relations more broadly conceived. Interdependence involves interconnection/linkages among actors and systems of interrelationships of actors. Yet, interdependence means more than simple interconnectedness. It entails a relationship in which two or more parties are linked in a system of action in such a way that changes in one party impact in some meaningful way on the attainment of needs, values, and/or desired outcomes of the others. In other words, the satisfaction of each party’s needs and values is contingent to some degree on the behavior of others. The concept of interdependence is used in several areas. In general international systems, a system functions as a whole because of the interdependence of its parts. Interdependence also plays a significant role in Immanuel Wallenstein’s world-systems theory, as well as the closely related concept of dependency. Another important analytical thread in interdependence theorizing has been international integration, where the creation of cooperative transnational linkages for dealing with technical issues could result in a learning process that changed attitudes about cooperation. Finally, with interdependence as a core element, more systematic frameworks for analyzing and explaining the nature and role of transnational relations in world politics can be made.

Article

Thomas Hickmann

Much of the contemporary literature in the field of international studies deals with the concept of authority. Scholars concerned with global policymaking often suggest that the increasing importance of transnational actors, such as subnational networks, nonprofit organizatons, and business associations, leads to a loss of authority at the expense of state-based forms of governance. This perspective is closely linked to the concept of global governance and challenges classical approaches to international politics and conventional concepts of authority in world politics. However, other scholars take a different view and contend that the development of transnational governance initiatives does not imply a one-sided shift of authority from national governments and international institutions to sub- and nonstate actors. While these authors recognize the emergence of novel forms of authority in global policymaking, they stress the persistent authority of nation-states and underline the centrality of established modes of interstate cooperation. In terms of a theoretical middle ground between these two perspectives, one can argue that we observe a reconfiguration of authority across various actors and levels of decision making. This development does not automatically question the prevailing position of national governments and their institutions. Instead, state power seems to be expressed and rearticulated in new ways within a changing global environment. This ongoing debate pertaining to the changing patterns of authority is key to our understanding of the role and function of state and sub- and nonstate actors as well as their interactions in contemporary global politics.

Article

Violence against women represents the most popular gender related issue for global women’s activists, international development agencies, and human rights advocates. Although state responsiveness to violence against women was previously seen by feminist political scientists as only a domestic issue, international studies scholars have begun to theorize how states’ responsiveness is shaped by foreign interventions by global actors. As countries around the world began to adopt new policies opposing violence against women, social scientists adept in both feminist theory and social science methods began the comparative study of these reforms. These studies pointed to the importance of the ideological and institutional context as structural impediments or opportunities as well as suggested the more effective strategic alliances between activists, politicians, and civil servants. Those studies that attempt a deeper analysis rely upon indirect measures of effectiveness of policies and interventions, such as judging policy on how feminist it is and judging reforms based on the recognition of the relationship between violence against women and gender based hierarchies. Through these measures, feminist social scientists can estimate the response’s impact on the sex–gender system, and indirectly on violence against women, which is seen to be a result of the sex–gender system. The next challenge is differentiating between the various types of intervention and their different impacts. These various types of intervention include the “blame and shame,” in which activists hold countries up against standards; bilateral or transnational networking among activists; the widespread availability of international funding; and traditional diplomacy or warfare.

Article

Raffaele Marchetti

Global democracy is a field of academic study and political activism concerned with making the global political system more democratic. This topic has become a central area of inquiry for established literatures including political philosophy, international relations (IR), international law, and sociology. Along with global justice, global democracy has also been critical to the emergence of international political theory as a discrete literature in recent decades. Global democracy is particularly concerned with how transnational decision-making can be justified and who should be entitled to participate in the formation of global rules, laws, and regulations. As democratic nations increase trade among themselves, policies like isolationism and nationalism make far less sense. Borders blur through free trade agreements and the creation of economic zones. As nations begin to take the interests of their partner nations into consideration when drafting laws and regulations, global democracy begins to take shape. However, due to globalization, the supposed alliance between democracy and the nation-state has come unstuck. The expansion of global connections has functioned in close cooperation with increased efforts to govern global affairs. Many scholars argue that increased transnational activity undermines national democracy. On the contrary, global democrats share the view that individuals should collectively rule themselves—to the extent that decision-making power migrates beyond the state, democracy should follow.

Article

Transnational corporations (TNCs) are networks of related enterprises, composed of a parent in one country and subsidiaries or affiliates in other countries. They play a central role in the global economy, and have recently come into focus in international political economy (IPE) scholarship. Early studies on TNCs and foreign direct investment (FDI) took place in the late 1960s and the 1970s. FDIs are a type of cross-border investment in which a resident in one economy establishes a lasting interest in an enterprise in another economy, in order to ensure a significant degree of influence by the direct investor in the management of the direct investment enterprise. Both TNCs and FDIs were controversial in the field, as tensions arose between TNCs and host states and people began to question whether or not FDIs were beneficial for developing countries. By the 1980s and 1990s, the world fell into the grip of financial crisis, and the study of TNCs fell largely into neglect, only to witness a revival during the 2000s. Since then, while the field of IPE has returned to focus its research on FDI, the current literature has taken a different track from the earlier work, and the results have made important contributions to answering questions about the effects of FDI and about what affects firm–state bargaining or the governance of TNCs in the twenty-first century. Too much of the recent literature, however, still focuses narrowly on explaining investment flows.

Article

The shift in America’s national security priorities has significantly changed the foreign intelligence needs of US policymakers in recent years. Due to the substantial rise of transnational threats, intelligence requirements have become increasingly numerous and varied, necessitating ever closer communication between consumers and producers to facilitate the production of relevant and timely intelligence. Producer-consumer relations is the glue which pulls together the intelligence cycle; for what happens at the interface of policy and intelligence ultimately determines the success or failure of the entire intelligence endeavor. Efforts to reform intelligence analysis have been motivated by the assumption that accurate analysis naturally leads to effective policy decisions. From this perspective, computational resources have primarily been devoted to the collection and assessment of empirical data in an effort to provide consumers with increasingly accurate predictions. The perennial issues facing the intelligence community can be roughly summarized as follows: the intelligence professional must guard against politicization and uphold his analytical integrity while at the same time maintaining close enough contact with policymakers to provide personalized and relevant intelligence support. Scholars argue that what the producer-consumer relationship needs is not radical change but some amelioration. The general reform objective should be to deepen the incorporation of intelligence throughout the policymaking process, to improve the two-way understanding of policy requirements, and to ensure that the intelligence community maximizes and maintains its unique expertise.

Article

Foreign policy analysis (FPA) occupies a central place in the study of international relations. FPA has produced a substantial amount of scholarship dealing with subjects from the micro and geographically particular to the macro relationship of foreign policy to globalization. It brings together many different subject areas, indeed disciplines, as between international relations and comparative politics or political theory, or history and political science. FPA generates case studies of major world events, and the information that probes behind the surface of things, to make it more possible to hold politicians accountable. Meanwhile, officials themselves are ever more aware that they need assistance, conceptual and empirical, in making sense of how those in other countries conduct themselves and what can feasibly be achieved at the international level. However, each subject under FPA needs to be revitalized through the development of new lines of enquiry and through the struggle with difficult problems. Work is either already under way or should be pursued in eight important areas. These are (i) foreign policy as a site of agency, (ii) foreign policy and state-building, (iii) foreign policy and the domestic, (iv) foreign policy and identity, (v) foreign policy and multilateralism, (vi) foreign policy and power, (vii) foreign policy and transnationalism, and (viii) foreign policy and ethics.

Article

Polly Rizova and John Stone

The term “race” refers to groups of people who have differences and similarities in biological traits deemed by society to be socially significant, meaning that people treat other people differently because of them. Meanwhile, ethnicity refers to shared cultural practices, perspectives, and distinctions that set apart one group of people from another. Ethnic differences are not inherited; they are learned. When racial or ethnic groups merge in a political movement as a form of establishing a distinct political unit, then such groups can be termed nations that may be seen as representing beliefs in nationalism. Race and ethnicity are linked with nationality particularly in cases involving transnational migration or colonial expansion. Anthropologists and historians, following the modernist understanding of ethnicity, see nations and nationalism as developing with the rise of the modern state system. They culminated in the rise of “nation-states,” in which the presumptive boundaries of the nation coincided with state boundaries. Thus, the notion of ethnicity, like race and nation, developed in the context of European colonial expansion, when mercantilism and capitalism were promoting global movements of populations at the same time that state boundaries were being more clearly and rigidly defined. Theories about the relation between race, ethnicity, and nationality are also linked to more general ideas about the impact of genomics on social life—ideas that often refer to the growing “geneticization” of social life.

Article

Transnational organizing by groups dedicated to promoting the rights of gay men and lesbians is not a particularly new phenomenon, though it remained rare in the postwar era. It was not until the advent of the sexual liberation movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues became more prominent. Moreover, despite their diversity, these transnational groups and networks have been able to speak with an increasingly unified voice and have begun to set out a relatively coherent vision for global LGBT human rights organizing. Over the past two decades, transnational LGBT human rights activists have become increasingly successful in getting their voices heard and demands met within prominent international organizations such as the EU and UN. This success, however, has varied dramatically across organizations. Perhaps not surprisingly given the Western origins and biases of transnational LGBT movements and human rights principles, as well as the greater levels of tolerance towards homosexuality in the region, LGBT rights organizations have had their greatest successes in Europe. Generally speaking, however, there has been a significant expansion of LGBT rights over the past 20 years. Yet despite these dramatic developments, the study of LGBT politics has remained peripheral to most fields within the discipline of politics, though there has been an empirical turn in LGBT research.

Article

Transnational crimes are crimes that have actual or potential effect across national borders and crimes that are intrastate but offend fundamental values of the international community. The word “transnational” describes crimes that are not only international, but crimes that by their nature involve cross-border transference as an essential part of the criminal activity. Transnational crimes also include crimes that take place in one country, but their consequences significantly affect another country and transit countries may also be involved. Examples of transnational crimes include: human trafficking, people smuggling, smuggling/trafficking of goods, sex slavery, terrorism offences, torture and apartheid. Contemporary transnational crimes take advantage of globalization, trade liberalization and new technologies to perpetrate diverse crimes and to move money, goods, services, and people instantaneously for purposes of perpetrating violence for political ends. While these global costs of criminal activity are huge, the role of this criminal market in the broader international economic system, and its effects on domestic state institutions and economies, has not received widespread attention from an international political economy (IPE) or political science perspective. Given the limits on the exercise of extraterritorial enforcement jurisdiction, states have developed mechanisms to cooperate in transnational criminal matters. The primary mechanisms used in this regard are extradition, lawful removal, and mutual legal assistance.

Article

Rebecca Davies

Global restructuring across the developing world can have profound, if uneven, political, economic, and social consequences. As such, the relationship between diasporas and development is necessarily complex. The diaspora spans all of the local, national, regional, and global levels, its networks and communities set apart from other migration flows in terms both of geography and time. It is contended that these groupings are constituted by three main elements: dispersion across or within state borders; orientation to a “homeland” as a source of value, identity and loyalty; and boundary maintenance, involving the preservation of a distinctive identity vis-à-vis a host society over an extended time period. Yet each of these core elements has been contested, most especially that of continued loyalty to a homeland and an enduring transnationalism that evokes a regularized range of interactions between the host country and homeland. Moreover, there is no one paradigmatic concept of diaspora. While none of the interpretations in the mainstream scholarship is necessarily wrong, they tend to be grounded in a very basic categorization of diasporic identifications and groupings, thus leading to new questions about how to tackle the issue of diaspora in the development process. And although many of the central traits of diasporas are apparently well understood, new interpretations of the shifting politics of the diaspora in the context of broader liberal processes of globalization are needed.

Article

Diasporas are transnational communities that have received significant interest from international relations (IR) scholars. Attempts to conceptualize diaspora as a modern analytical term posed a major challenge in terms of drawing a distinction between people on the move—such as migrants, refugees, and seasonal workers—and people who are diasporic members of a transnational community. There are different categories of diaspora: historical (or classical/core) diasporas, modern (or recent) diasporas, incipient diasporas, state-linked diasporas, and stateless diasporas. A widely used system of categorization distinguishes among victim, trade, labor, and imperial diasporas. Most of the diaspora research done today in IR deals with the relations between diasporas and their host state and state of origin. There is also a growing body of literature on the role of diasporas in conflict and peace in the homeland. Recent studies have focused on ethnonational diasporic communities, especially the relations between diasporic kin groups in the homeland and in other states of residence, as well as their influence on the foreign policy of their host states. The study of diasporas presents a few major challenges. For instance, it forces us to rethink the rubrics of state and of nation, to challenge accepted notions of citizenship, and to question existing conceptualizations of the importance of territoriality. It also exacerbates the fuzziness between inner and outer politics in research and practice.

Article

Lands of recent settlement refers to countries settled predominantly by European migration during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as the United States, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, and New Zealand. Current scholarship on the lands of recent settlement reveals a very active agenda of comparative studies covering a broad range of areas and issues: culture, institutions, gender, ethnicity, labor, national identity, geography, ecology, environment, noneconomic factors of growth, and transnationalization and globalization. In explaining the different levels of development between lands of recent settlement and the rest of the world, traditional explanations pointed to propitious external factors and factor endowments. These explanations include the analysis of the history of the United States based on the notion of “frontier development” and the staple theory of growth. Meanwhile, recent works debate whether institutions, culture, or geography plays a crucial role. These works focus on the social, domestic, geographic, and biological elements of development, the cultural and institutional legacy of colonialism, as well as questions on gender, ethnic, and national identity. Although they do not reject the importance of foreign demand, capital, and labor in explaining the development of the lands of recent settlement, they question the adequacy of interpretations based solely on economic factors. Ultimately, the most important contribution of the study of development of lands of recent settlement is in the area of an analysis of transnational networks and globalization.

Article

Wendy W. Wolford and Timothy Gorman

Organization by rural landless movements has been the primary factor driving the implementation of land reform projects. At the heart of land reform is a debate over the very nature of both property and rights within and between socialist and capitalist economic systems of the modern era. One common interpretation of the development of property rights was articulated by Karl Marx, who argued that capitalism was made possible through theft of common land by a rising bourgeois class. The issue of private property rights in land emerged as a crucial aspect of national socialist transformation in the early 1900s. Known as the “Agrarian Question,” it was first formulated by Karl Kautsky as both a political and economic question. Land distribution occurs today via three main mechanisms, which differ in their emphasis on market transactions, state appropriations, and grassroots mobilizations: the market, state, and civil society. Grassroots mobilization to demand access to land has been a key factor behind most if not all land distribution programs. There is a growing literature on the transnational peasant movement (TPM), but much of it is laudatory and descriptive, focusing on the formation of various movements and campaigns. Comparative work is needed to elucidate general trends and retain sensitivity to local conditions in the future. Furthermore, the literature on land reform must be interdisciplinary, with attention to economic issues, political factors, social relations (including power), and historical particularities.

Article

The emerging discipline of Political Science recognized international organization as an object of study earlier (i.e., around 1910) than International Law, which through an engagement with League of Nations ideals began to follow the developments of international organizations (IOs) during the 1920s, and History, which kept its focus on states and war rather than on IOs until the early 2000s. The debate between Liberal Institutionalism and (after 1945 dominant) Realism deeply influenced the study of IOs. The engagement of the United States in the United Nations System, however, stimulated further studies of IOs and produced new theoretical orientations that left room for Realist factors. The modernization of International Relations studies through Regime Theory eventually removed the need to ask historical questions, resulting in short-term studies of IOs, but new approaches such as Constructivism and Historical Institutionalism contributed to studies of long-term change of IOs and critical junctures in history. The main International Relations approach traces the rise of the United Nations System (or, more broadly, IOs) as an instrument of American exceptionalism in the world. This view is being criticized by the paradigmatic turn in the discipline of History in the early 2000s, which has included IOs in its research and relates the creation of IOs to imperial powers such as the United Kingdom and France that wanted to safeguard their empires. These historical studies start in 1919 rather than 1945 and also question International Relations’ Western-centrist universalism by including competing universalisms such as anticolonial nationalism.