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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A theoretically intense but innovative take on globalization, November 9, 2008
This review is from: Network Power: The Social Dynamics of Globalization (Hardcover)
This engaging book presents the remarkable positive potential of social networks in wielding power, but also exposes the darker side of such power as it inexorably moves to a collectively self-inflicted conformity that can constrain choice. As a Harvard doctoral student in political science (or "government" as people in the old yard like to call it), the author is clearly well-versed in all the theoretical literature on the topic. While the book is written in a fairly accessible narrative, occasionally some rather cerebral passages make their way as well that may put off a casual reader of globalization.

Grewal is particularly concerned about globalization in its darker context since he believes that "everything is being globalized except politics". He is referring to our tendency to move towards common norms on language, dress and other harmonizing influences of globalization.

Coming from a multi-ethnic family with roots in America and India, he is perhaps personally influenced by this constant challenge between positive conformity and cultural dilution.

Grewal gives examples of the historical dominance of the gold standard and the growing dominance of English as a language to make his point. He also considers other areas where network power has encountered difficulties such as the failure of global trade talks in 2008. He does not have much sympathy for the collapse of the Doha Round of trade talks because the network power generated by this kind of system would have required a "suppression of democratic politics at a national level".

However, Grewal is perhaps too sanguine about the triumph of national politics, given various other challenges that confront us on a planetary scale. Environmental governance necessitates making connections across intrinsic ecological networks that are endowed by nature and often influenced negatively by anarchic human behavior. This is where making as many connections between individuals and societies in a systems-oriented approach to politics is so vitally consequential.

Grewal clearly has a bright future ahead as a scholar, and his voice will assume more clarity in years to come -- for a first book this is a commendable achievement.
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Initial post: Oct 1, 2012 10:48:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 1, 2012 10:49:03 PM PDT
Dear Mr. Ali,

Environmental governance would indeed necessitate making connections across intrinsic ecological networks. Whether ecologies are often influenced negatively by anarchic human behavior is an open question. And the necessity of global environmental governance too.

Sincerely,
Graham Peterson
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