Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2001


Globalisation, Regionalisation, and the State

Lecturers: Professor Bob Jessop and Dr. Ngai-Ling Sum,
Lancaster University, UK
Dates: 30. July - 3. August 2001


Course description
This course develops a post-disciplinary perspective on three major topics in recent economic and political geography. These are globalisation, regionalisation, and the state. All three are considered from the viewpoint of the relativisation of the national scale associated with the postwar boom not only in advanced capitalist economies but also in the East Asian newly industrializing economies. In this context the course addresses the material and discursive production of scale, its institutional matrices and governance, and the problems involved in managing interscalar relations. In developing this relatively novel approach, the course also offers a critique of more conventional approaches to globalisation, regions and regionalism, and the 'crisis of the national state'. It also explores the complex interrelations between time-space compression and time-space distantiation and their implications for changing forms of economic, political, and socio-cultural power.

Globalisation is treated as a complex, emergent resultant of activities and processes on many different scales and is regarded as a deeply contradictory phenomenon, especially in its dominant neo-liberal form. Approaching globalisation as a multi-scalar and multi-centric phenomenon enables us to examine its linkages to regional challenges to the primacy of the national scale - whether through micro-regionalism, the resurgence of cities and interurban networks, cross-border regions, virtual regions, or the emergence of supra-national regional blocs.

These developments are involved in complex and contradictory relations with globalisation. They serve both as regional loci or carriers of globalisation processes and as sites and means of resistance by providing alternative scales of economic, political, and socio-cultural organization and identification. Finally, although globalisation and regionalisation are often seen as sources of challenge and threat to the survival of the national state, national states can also be seen as involved in promoting both sets of processes and as acquiring new significance as key players in the process of interscalar articulation in the face of a 'relativisation of scale'.

The course combines theoretical analyses with examples drawn from Western Europe, North America, and East Asia. Students on the course will therefore acquire:


Basic readings


Course outline

Lecture 1: Introduction to the Course and Its Key Concepts (BJ and NLS)
First half: key themes and purpose of the course are introduced; coursework responsibilities allocated. Second half: key concepts are defined and debated.

Background Reading:


Lecture 2: The Production of Scale (BJ with NLS)
More on the concept of scale. The material-discursive production of scale; the institutionalisation of scale; scale as a temporal or intertemporal phenomenon as well as a spatial phenomenon. Scale and identity.

Background Reading: (* can be found in course pack)


Lecture 3: The Primacy of the National Scale (BJ with NLS)
The primacy of the national scale in postwar advanced capitalist societies, in developmental states, and in national security states. How this primacy came to be constituted through economic, political, socio-cultural, and identitarian practices. How challenges to this primacy were managed during the postwar boom years.

Background reading: (* can be found in course pack)


Lecture 4: Globalisation vs the National (BJ with NLS)
Globalisation is often presented as a challenge to the postwar primacy of national economies, national states, and national identities. This lecture summarizes and critiques such positions on globalisation and develops an alternative, less one-sided perspective. We introduce the concept of the relativisation of scale and its significance for comparative studies in social science.

.Background reading: (* can be found in course pack)


Lecture 5: Regionalisation vs the National (BJ and NLS)
The relativisation of scale signifies the relative absence of any primary scale in securing institutional integration and managing social cohesion. Alongside the global, the resurgence of many different forms of region and regional identity is often presented as another challenge to the primacy of the national scale. This lecture summarizes and critiques the view that the regional and the national scale are necessarily opposed.

.Background reading: (* can be found in course pack)


Lecture 6: Glocalisation as a Chaotic Concept (BJ and NLS)
The concept of 'glocalisation' has been widely adopted in the literature to grapple with the complex interlinking of global and local processes. This concept has the merit of highlighting the interscalar nature of the social; but it suffers from an overextension to all forms of interscalar articulation. We begin to provide a more differentiated account of interscalar articulation, its actors and strategies, and its contradictions and dilemmas. Some examples of these different types of interscalar articulation will be discussed in the next three lectures.

Background reading: (* can be found in course pack)

Lecture 7: Entrepreneurial Cities and Glurbanisation (NLS with BJ)
This lecture discusses the entrepreneurial city. Particular attention is given to the strategies involved in securing a favourable insertion of such cities into the global division of labour ('glurbanisation'). Brief case studies are presented from E. Asia and W. Europe.


Background reading: (* can be found in course pack)


Lecture 8: Regional Blocs (NLS with BJ)
This lecture considers the formation of different types of regional bloc, problems of multi-tiered governance, and the emerging forms of connection between regional blocs (e.g., ASEM, APEC, New Transatlantic Agenda).

Background reading: (* can be found in course pack)


Lecture 9: Cross-Border Regions (NLS with BJ)
This lecture examines the importance of cross-border regions, drawing especially on material from East Asia. We discuss the management of cross-border regions and their insertion into broader regionalisation and globalisation processes. The concept of time-space governance is introduced. Supplementary examples from Western Europe may also be given.

Background reading: (* can be found in course pack)


Lecture 10: In guise of Conclusion (BJ and NLS)
This session re-states the importance of a post-disciplinary approach to the production and articulation of scale, re-emphasises the importance of adopting a multi-scalar perspective on contemporary economic and political changes, and draws some general conclusions about how to research the production of scale.


The lecturers
Bob Jessop studied sociology at Exeter University and then moved to the University of Cambridge to undertake doctoral research in political sociology. After completing a study of British political culture and writing a book on the sociological theory of reform and revolution, he became a Research Fellow in Social and Political Sciences at Downing College, Cambridge. In 1975 he moved to the Department of Government at the University of Essex and began teaching in the areas of political sociology, historical sociology, state theory, and political economy.

In 1990 he came to Lancaster University, where he now hold his position as a professor in sociology. Among his books are State Theory: putting capitalist states in their place (1990) and Regulation Theory: putting capitalist economies in their place (forthcoming). His newest project will appear as The Future of the Capitalist State later in 2001. He has also published numerous articles in such journals as International Social Science Journal, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Economy and Society, Journal of Political Philosophy, New Political Economy, and Environment and Planning.


Ngai-Ling Sum is Lecturer in in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Lancaster University. She took her Ph.D. in Sociology from Lancaster University in 1994. She has also been a research fellow in the Political Economy Research Centre (Sheffield University) and the International Centre for Labour Studies (Manchester University). Her main research interests are globalization and regionalization, regulation theory, governance and models of capitalism and cultural political economy. She is editing a book with Markus Perkman: Globalization and Regionalization: the Building of Cross-Border Regions (forthcoming 2001), and has published a number of articles in such journals as New Political Economy, Emergo: Journal of Transforming Economies and Societies, Economy and Society, and Urban Studies.