James N. Rosenau uses the expressions bifurcated world to refer to the new world order created by the tensions that arise out of the clash of centralizing and decentralizing tendencies that are unfolding in all parts of the world and on every level of organized activity, from local organizations to the international system. As technologies continue to shrink the world and render it more interdependent, so do they initiate forces which lead to division within and among groups. At one and at the same time, in effect, the world is thus becoming more and more integrated and more and more fragmented. Governments, corporations, churches, unions, and virtually every other type of enterprise founded on coordinated action are seeking both to expand and contract their reach, to coordinate more extensively with counterparts elsewhere even as as they subdivide their tasks and break up into smaller and more local units. And the processes are mutually reinforcing: the more a collectivity gets enmeshed in the expanding interdependence, the more do some of its parts seek greater autonomy and independence, just as the greater fragmentation then stirs desires for more cohesion and centralization.

Globalism and Localism influence state sovereignty at two opposing levels. They attract power and authority away from the state upwards to the international/global level through economic and ecological integration, while they detract state control downwards to the national and ethnic constituents. The state, especially in heterogeneous societies, is left in a very defensive position trying to maintain its basic role as the main organizer and protector of civility in human societies. Democracy is threatened by globalization due to the latter’s overwhelming forces of economic uniformity and cultural homogeneity that deprive the local peoples of their freedom of choice and sovereign participation in indigenous political institutions. Localism threatens democracy through its continuous intercommunal conflicts, minority oppression, and genocide.


  • Rosenau, James, N. (1999) Citizenship in a changing global order. In James N. Rosenau & Ernst-Otto Czempiel (Eds.): Governance without government: Order and change in world politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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