Why the citizen vote and national sovereignty continue to mean less and less

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were the objects of tremendous scholarly attention. At the time the state-centric model of world politics was undergoing one of its many attacks and NGOs were enlisted in the assault. Many scholars argued that since non-state actors were growing in number and power, students of world politics would be better served by paying attention to these as well as, if not instead of, nation-states.

For example, a substantial number of multinational corporations (MNCs) had assets in excess of the gross national product (GNP) of certain states and had projects in numerous countries, leading many scholars to argue that MNCs were curtailing state action and represented an independent variable for explaining world events.

Likewise, advances in communications technology opened the way for non-state actors such as revolutionary groups, the Catholic church, and political parties to play a greater role in world politics.

Innovations in overseas travel, international wire services, computer networks, and telecommunications were enabling these actors to influence the ideas, values, and political persuasions of people around the globe.

Scholars argued that they were having a significant impact on questions of peace, international morality, and the salience of political issues. In short, the surge in transnational activity suggested that the nation-state might not be the most important variable for explaining world events.

– Paul Wapner, from “Politics Beyond the State: Environmental Activism and World Civic Politics”, 1995

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