Distant Proximities: Dynamics beyond Globalization.

Author:Winters, Cecilia Ann
Position:Book Review

by James N. Rosenau. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. 2003. Paper, ISBN: 0691095248, $24.95.420 pages + index.

James Rosenau's book is no doubt his magnum opus, providing a detailed, multi-faceted analysis of globalization's complexities in an ever-shrinking world of uncertainty, change, and contradiction. His endeavor might seem unwieldy to an economist who subscribes to the familiar analytical dichotomy, asking questions like is globalization good or bad, who are the winners and losers, what are the benefits and costs. If the reader is willing to break away from that type of intellectual tennis match, there is much to be gained by pacing through the 420 pages of specialized terminology that describes the complex events, relationships, and processes that affect all of our lives. The most important phrase is in the title, "distant proximities," meant to describe phenomena that are both remote and close at hand, at once near and distant, affecting us locally as we recognize them globally. An important and related concept is embodied in a word the author introduces, "fragmegration," an irritating verbal construct that is meant to convey the complex interactions between the fragmenting forces of localization and the integrative forces of globalization.

So the reader can appreciate and embrace the aforementioned concepts, part 1 begins with a meticulous explanation of the importance of micro-macro interactions and their many combinations and permutations. For an economist, micro-macro interactions should trigger immediate recognition, but in the context of "untangling the knotty feedback loops" of globalization, one has to read further to grasp the author's point. For example, we know that millions of Indonesians were plunged back into poverty shortly after the East Asian financial crisis began in 1987.1 Then, the IMF came to town with 40 billion bailout [dollars.sup.2] and prevailed upon Indonesia to follow inappropriate and painful adjustment programs. And the individuals involved suffered. Isn't that macro-micro interaction? There is nothing wrong with this account, so succinctly and clearly given to us by Joseph Stiglitz, to which mainstream economists interested in globalization are accustomed. Rosenau, however, is aiming for a subtle and detailed vision of globalization that humanizes the Indonesians and others by defining and giving them agency. This demands more jargon and numerous categorizations, but the result justifies...

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