Just Sociology

Globalization Governments and Borders: Impacts Origins and Paradoxes

The process of globalisation has provided opportunities for cross-border interactions, leading to the emergence of a shared global economy. However, the effects of globalisation on different aspects of society are often debated.

One area of interest is its impact on the role of governments and the way they manage their citizens. This article will highlight three key areas of how globalisation has affected governments: their focus on transnational corporations over citizens, a reduction in the welfare state, and a demand for tighter border controls.

Additionally, the article will explore the historical origins of borders and how they have evolved over time due to shifting cultural and economic practices, with a special focus on the impact of globalisation on borders and inequality. Globalisation’s Impact on Government:

Governments’ focus on Transnational Corporations over citizens

The rise of transnational corporations has profoundly influenced the way that governments think about their role in the global economy.

Many governments have had their policies shaped by transnational corporations, often at the expense of their citizens’ best interests. These corporations have grown in power and influence, even to the point where they can challenge the authority of governments.

They can act outside of the laws of individual countries, which can lead to an erosion of state sovereignty. This shift towards globalisation and corporations has created an unbalanced power dynamic between governments and citizens, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for governments to contain or regulate these entities.

Reduction of the welfare state

The welfare state was created to spread wealth and provide social safety nets for all citizens, thus reducing inequality. However, the rise of globalisation has created a more extractive model of capitalism, which has favoured the interests of corporations and the wealthy at the expense of society’s less privileged sectors.

As a result, many governments have been forced to reduce their welfare spending in order to remain competitive in the global economy. Furthermore, the concept of the welfare state is often viewed as outdated in the context of globalisation, particularly in countries that have adopted market-driven economic systems.

Demand for tighter border controls

One of the most visible consequences of globalisation has been a rise in the demand for tighter border controls. This is due to the increase in transnational flows of people, goods, and services.

Governments are becoming increasingly concerned with the security risks posed by the movement of people and goods across borders. The pressure to secure borders can be seen in the rise of nationalistic movements in countries that have traditionally been open to migration.

Governments are increasingly looking to enforce controls and restrict the movement of people across borders, even if it means limiting trade or other cross-border practices. Origins and Evolution of Borders:

Fluidity of border regions during Imperialism

The concept of territorial borders has evolved throughout history. During the era of Imperialism, colonial powers were less concerned with demarcating precise borders and more focused on exerting their influence in border regions.

As a result, the borders between colonies were often fluid and porous, which allowed for significant cultural exchange and movement of people, goods, and ideas.

Concept of the homeland and solidifying borders

The concept of the homeland marked a significant shift in the way that people thought about borders. It established a sense of ownership and identity tied to a particular geographical region.

This led to a push for solidifying borders and creating legal frameworks to restrict movement across them. Governments began to view borders as a way to control and regulate their citizens and resources effectively.

Globalisation’s impact on borders and inequality

Globalisation has simultaneously facilitated the movement of people worldwide while also contributing to border reinforcement. For example, while people are generally freer to travel internationally than ever before, states have tightened their border controls to prevent overcrowding, potential terrorism, and seeking better economic opportunities outside their countries.

Border control policies have enforced economic inequality as more immigrants are looking to flee their countries to achieve a better quality of life, those who can afford it choose to go through regular channels and gain official papers leading to entry, others are left behind and often resort to illegal means to cross borders. The irony is the need to migrate is enabled due to globalisation’s impact on creating economic disparities or leading to effects like environmental degradation, all of which have further implications for borders and cultural identity.


The impact of globalisation on governments and borders is complex, and the consequences are still unfolding. Transnational corporations have grown in power and influence, leading to an imbalance of power between governments and citizens.

Additionally, globalisation has reduced the relevance of the welfare state and increased the demand for tighter border controls. As for the historical origins and evolution of borders, they reflect the changing cultural, political, and economic forces that have acted throughout history, with the concept of the homeland marking a significant shift in the way that people thought about their connection to territories.

Despite the noble and rightful ideals of globalisation on enhancing the interconnectedness and cooperation of people, it has led to significant inequalities both within and between countries. Ultimately, globalisation’s effects on government and borders are part of an ever-evolving dialogue that must be carefully considered to ensure a more equitable world.


Governments and Transnational Corporations:

Governments’ difficulty in governing for their citizens

As transnational corporations become more influential in the global economy, some governments are finding it increasingly difficult to govern for their citizens’ interests. Corporations are often not beholden to any one country’s laws, and this can create problems for governments seeking to regulate them.

Governments that rely heavily on foreign investment or trade may be reluctant to enact policies that could alienate corporations, fearing that they will lose out on business opportunities or face legal challenges. Ultimately, this can lead to governments prioritising corporate interests over their citizens’ needs, creating a fundamentally undemocratic situation.

Governments negotiating with Transnational Corporations

As the power of transnational corporations continues to grow, governments have been forced to negotiate with them to ensure that they act within the framework of national laws and regulations. It is not uncommon for governments to offer extensive tax breaks, subsidies, and other incentives to corporations, leading to a situation where corporations hold significant power over government policy.

Negotiations can take place behind closed doors, leading to accusations of corruption and lack of transparency. Additionally, there may be a conflict of interest between elected officials and the corporations that fund their campaigns, raising important questions about democratic accountability.

The process of ‘rebordering’ and controlling people-flows

The phenomenon of ‘rebordering’ refers to the process of building new borders or strengthening existing ones, often due to increased globalisation and transnational flows of goods, services, and people. Large-scale migration is a particularly contentious issue concerning governments that fear losing economic control or cultural identity.

Some governments have responded by building walls, tightening visa restrictions, and even forcibly removing people who have entered illegally. This has led to debates concerning the ethical and moral implications of controlling people-flows, particularly the negative impact on those affected in the host or neighbouring countries.

Citizens’ Role in Border Control:

Increased expectation on citizens to be informal border guards

The rise of populist and nationalist movements in many countries has led to an increased expectation on citizens to act as informal border guards. This means that citizens are expected to report suspicious activity, especially that which pertains to undocumented migration, to the relevant authorities.

This expectation leads to a moral dilemma, whereby citizens are put in an awkward situation because they are caught between reporting suspicious behaviour and feeling as though they may be perpetuating prejudice or racism.

Legislation requiring UK citizens to inform on illegal immigrants

In the UK, legislation now requires citizens and organisations to have ‘due regard’ to the need to prevent illegal immigrants from accessing rented housing. This new provision within the Immigration Act of 2014 places the obligation on ‘every public authority to have regard to the likely effects of their decisions on the need to prevent illegal working.’ This legislation essentially forces citizens to act as informal border guards, a position that many are unhappy about.

Arguments put forward by campaigners have argued this could perpetuate discrimination towards ethnic minorities who may face more scrutiny as landlords and employers look to avoid the potential for penalties.

Negative consequences of informal policing

Whilst there is a need for rules and regulations to ensure social order, there is some negative impact in the sense that some community members may be criminalised based on suspicion, rather than concrete evidence. Additionally, there are no legal protections for those who are unfairly penalised or ostracised for breaking informal social norms or expectations.

Furthermore, informal policing could create surveillance cultures and given that members of the same community are often the enforcers in this type of policing, it could lead to retribution or personal vendettas. Conclusion:

The rise of transnational corporations has resulted in an imbalance of power between these corporations and governments that struggle to keep up.

This imbalance has led to a situation where governments are forced to negotiate with corporations, prioritising corporate interests in policies at the expense of citizen’s rights, ultimately undermining democracy. The ‘rebordering’ process has led to increased scrutiny and control of people-flows, which places an increased expectation on citizens to act as informal border guards.

Even though legislations may compel citizens to partake in informal policing, there are negative consequences to it, such as discrimination, lack of legal protection, and the creation of a surveillance culture. It remains to be seen if governments will be able to put in place policies to balance against the power of transnational corporations without impacting their citizens negatively.


Paradoxes of Neoliberalism and Borders:

Neoliberalism’s requirement for free movement of people

The principles of neoliberalism require the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital across borders. However, in practice, many of these freedoms are restricted or regulated, even within neoliberal countries.

The free flow of labour often remains the most politically sensitive aspect of neoliberalism, with many governments reluctant to open their borders to foreign workers. This contradiction creates a paradox: neoliberalism demands the free flow of people and competitive markets, yet governments that promote neoliberalism often restrict labour mobility, leading to a situation where countries are held to account for both promoting and opposing economic liberalism.

Longer-term economic consequences of tightening border controls

Recent global events have led to the tightening of border controls, but the long-term economic consequences of these policies are unclear. There are concerns over potential economic downturns if there is a drop in geopolitical cooperation and a decline in the international movement of labour and capital.

Furthermore, policies restricting movement may lead to reverse brain-drain and a loss of business opportunities to neighbouring countries that may hold a more inclusive policy in terms of migration. This situation could further undermine the principles of neoliberalism, which depend on cross-border economic partnerships to stimulate economic growth.

The irony of neoliberalism’s requirements and government policies

Political leaders who advocate for neoliberalism and its free-market ideals often find themselves adopting policies that are not in line with neoliberalism. While these policies may be popular with local voters and politicians, they can actively work to undermine the principles of neoliberalism.

Examples include rightist governments that promote market-driven policies but restrict immigration, or left-leaning governments that promote equality but betray with highly protectionist trade policies. The pursuit of political power is increasingly seen to be at odds with the idea of governance based on neoliberal principles.

This creates a contradiction where neoliberalism advocates for maximum market freedom whilst the governments in question, try to enact policies that limit cross-border flows. Conclusion:

The paradoxes of neoliberalism and borders highlight the contradictions that arise when an economic policy, such as neoliberalism, is implemented against a backdrop of global borders, each with its own set of laws and regulations.

Neoliberalism’s emphasis on free-market capitalism, private enterprise, and open borders can create conflicts when governments prioritize narrow political interests or public opinion. Additionally, as the recent tightening of border controls indicates, government policies can be influenced by a range of factors that come at odds with the ideals of neoliberalism.

The wider issue here is that political considerations often trump economic considerations and that the tension between the two can present a challenge for globalization’s ideals. Ultimately, these paradoxes highlight the need for greater clarity in policy-making concerning neoliberal economic policies, geopolitical cooperation, and the free movement of people across borders.

In conclusion, this article has discussed the complex and evolving relationship between globalization, governments, and borders. Through exploring the impact of globalization on government policies, the historical origins and evolution of borders, and the paradoxes of neoliberalism and borders, the article has highlighted the significant and far-reaching implications for modern society.

These issues relate to democratic accountability, economic inequality, social identity, and the tensions between globalization and nationalist dynamics. To provide further clarity, the following FAQs can help answer some common questions that readers may have:

– What are transnational corporations, and how do they affect government policies?

– What are the historical origins of borders, and how have they evolved over time? – What is the impact of tightening border controls on long-term economic consequences?

– How do political considerations come into play when defining government policies around neoliberal economic principles?

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