Globalization and democracy: the triumph of liberty over equality

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter seeks to reconcile divergent views about how globalization affects democratic governance at the national level. Despite numerous studies on this subject, the resulting literature has not reached an overarching consensus. Some scholars conclude that globalization usually promotes democracy by fragmenting the political power of entrenched elites, by creating powerful demands for the rule of law, and by making democracy the global norm for governance. Other scholars, however, draw very different conclusions. They argue that globalization generally weakens democracy by reducing the autonomy of national governments, by generating “democratic deficits” between international policy makers and ordinary citizens, and by significantly enhancing the class power of transnational capital. To bridge these two literatures, the present chapter highlights that democracy has at least two normative charges: (1) it should promote civil and political liberties (its liberal dimension) and (2) it should promote social and economic equality (its social democratic dimension). When viewed from this perspective, it appears that globalization does indeed promote democracy, albeit a particular form of democracy in which the maintenance of civil and political liberties takes precedence over the realization of socioeconomic equalities. Furthermore, this perspective suggests that globalization can simultaneously promote democracy in some parts of the world (i.e., by encouraging authoritarian countries to adopt civil and political liberties), while undermining it elsewhere (i.e., by impeding political actors seeking to promote socioeconomic equality).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDemocratic Paths and Trends
EditorsBarbara Wejnert
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780857240910
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2010

Publication series

NameResearch in Political Sociology
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN (Print)0895-9935


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