Political Science Project Topics

Is Globalization a Threat to Democracy? Analyzing the Globalization of Democracy

Is Globalization a Threat to Democracy Analyzing the Globalization of Democracy

Is Globalization a Threat to Democracy? Analyzing the Globalization of Democracy

Chapter One

Objectives of the study

The main objective of the study is to analyze the impact of globalization on the Nigerian democracy.

  1. To examine the influence of globalization on democracy, democratization and democratic governance.
  2. To examine the historical background of globalization and democracy.
  3. Challenges and interface of globalization on democracy, democratization and democratic governance.



Concept of globalization

Knowledge of globalization is substantially a function of how the concept is defined, and the concept provides an analytical lynchpin for understanding social change in the contemporary world (Arokiasamy, 2012). The notion of globalization is not new but the concept and its far reaching implications have a great influence on the political and economic relations. The concept of globalization emerged in the period between the latter half of the 19th century and the initial years of the 20th century (1850 –1914) (O’Rourke and Williamson, 1999). In recent times, globalization has probably become one of the most widely used concepts by different people to convey different connotations in varying context within the political, journalistic and academic realm (Kellner, 1995). This development has enormously given rise to the current wave of controversy associated with the definitive problem of the concept among pundits.

The concept of globalization has become intensely controversial in terms of meaning and as such, no clear and universally acknowledged definition has been favoured. Globalization refers to the emergence of an international network of social and economic systems. Sociologically, Robertson (1992) conceives globalization as the compression of the world and the intensification of the consciousness of the world as a whole. Similarly, Albrow (1990) presents globalization as all those processes by which the peoples of the world are incorporated into a single world society. In line with the social relationship concept, Giddens (1990) advances that globalization is the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa.

The concept of globalization is an amalgam of two sociological processes namely glocalization and grobalization (Ritzer, 2003). Glocalization is a combination of globalization and localization used to describe a product or service that is developed and distributed globally that accommodate the user or consumer in a local market. Glocalization creates variety and heterogeneity within society (Douglas, 2007). On the other hand, Grobalization, a term coined by Ritzer himself, refers to imperialistic ambitions of nations, corporations, organizations to impose their likes and desires on the various geographic areas. As opposite to glocalization, grobalization aims to overwhelm local. Its ultimate goal is to see profit grow through unilateral homogenization. The concept of globalization in this regard is of relevance to other theories of globalization, including those dealing with economic and political issues (Ritzer, 2003).

Held, McGrew, Goldblatt and Perraton (1999) state that globalization is the processes of change which underpin a transformation in the organization of human affairs by linking together and expanding human activity across regions and continents. This definition tacitly places premium on the notion of geographical distant events taking place across national boundaries. However, Tomlinson (1999) posits a positive view on the facet of globalization process that dwells on distant events and the forces that impact on local and regional activities

Suchacek (2008) presents globalization as a process of change from national to global scale of integration of production, exchange and consumption. He further argues that technological information and revolution have tremendously propelled and laid the necessary infrastructure required for the formation of a global economy. This definition places premium on the perspective of economic theory and thus presents globalization as an economic process. Friedman (2005) in aligning with the economic perspective of the globalization process, examines the impact of the flattening of the globe and argues that globalized trade, outsourcing, supply chaining and political forces have made the world to change for both better and worse.

The concept of globalization in economic context places premium on the perspective of economic theory and thus presents globalization as an economic process in which production exchange and consumption metamorphose from national to a global scale through integration. To this end, Tom G. Palmer of the Cato Institute sees globalization as the diminution or elimination of state enforced restrictions on exchange across borders and the increasingly integrated and complex global systems of production and exchange that has emerged as a result. Two main strands of process drivers are central in this concept – the liberalization of economic policies, and trade transaction across national frontiers that give rise to global interdependence and interpenetration (Lechner, 2009).

The context of globalization entails how the concept has been in the milieu of organizations. Globalization is a recent term used to describe the changes in societies and the world economy that result from dramatically increased international transactions and cultural exchange. It describes the increase of international transactions and connectivity due to the falling of barriers and increased interdependence of countries. In specifically economic contexts, the concept of globalization is often understood to refer almost exclusively to the effects of trade, particularly trade liberalization or free trade (Bettis and Hall, 1982). 

According to Bhatia (1985), between 1910 and 1950, a series of political and economic upheavals dramatically reduced the volumes and importance of international trade flows. But starting with World War I and continuing through World War II when the Bretton woods institutions were created – the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), globalization trends reversed.




Globalization and Democratization Wave in Nigeria: History and Dynamics.

Nigeria’s history is one replete with the attempts at democratization. The series of attempts have met with outright failure or severe obstacles namely; colonialism, neo-colonialism, inter and intra class struggle, inter and intra ethnic antagonisms, maladministration, military rule, corruption and economic underdevelopment and dependency. All these factors jointly and severally contributed in one way or the other in botching Nigeria’s hope towards democratization and democracy. However the major stop gap in Nigeria’s experience towards realising the democratic ideals was military rule. Military rule slowed the pace of democratic experiencing in Nigeria. The first phase of military interregnum was between 1966 to 1979.Nigeria then had another short exercise in democratic experiment which terminated in December 1983 with another coup de tat. Military dictatorship continued till May 1999. However during the long haul of military dictatorship, various military regimes romanced with the idea of transition to democracy, new constitutions were drafted, parties were formed and disbanded, politicians were banned and un-banned and  elections were conducted and cancelled. However many of these factors did not spur the agitation for democracy as much as the economic hardship and abuse of human rights that accompanied the economic policy of structural adjustment Programme (SAP). SAP and its accompanying market reform programmes ushered in the first experience of nascent globalization process in Nigeria. In fact the debate preceding the adoption of SAP in Nigeria was Nigerians first brush with the international financial institutions (IFIs) which are the major vehicles of economic globalization. In that debate majority of Nigerians opposed the Nigeria’s acceptance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan and its conditionalities  but the military regime of Babangida ignored the people’s feelings and went ahead to adopt the Funds stabilisation program. Central to this policy is the substantial devaluation of the Naira through the interplay of market forces, rationalization and privatization of public enterprises, removal of subsidies especially those for petroleum products and certain social services.



Challenges of Globalization on Democracy, Democratization and Democratic Governance

In demonstrating that the phenomenon has been increasing democratization, it is also the main challenge of democratic governance, Scholte (2005b) like many others who observed globalization in relation to democracy from the critical viewpoints, he stated that the phenomenon has caused the state form of governance not to live and develop on its own and it encouraged the emergence of many centres of regulation. He explain that although “globalization has impacts on several forms of social stratification, including, age, gender, class race, urban/rural divides, country and (dis) ability; it has contributed to slim social hierarchies in certain respects, certainly the process has widened gaps in life chances structurally” (p. 316). 

He further explained that the conventional framework of liberal democracy, which focus on nation’s territorial selfdetermination, is not an adequate formula for rule by the people in the multi-centred governance of a more global world.




A democratic governance run for and by a people with the problem describe above surely has inherent seed of destruction. This is because it is dealing with degenerate potentials that are so ignorant and easily manipulated by unscrupulous politicians seeking their selfish ends. Therefore identifying and assessment of these challenges as they affect Nigeria especially as they affect democratic process is critical in outlook. Thus impartial application of rule of law such as penalising offenders in respect to the provision of the constitution would serve as deterrence not to subvert democratic processes or the general development of the country

This study also examined the relationship between globalization and democracy especially as it pertains to an African social formation like Nigeria. One fact is obvious, and that is that globalization though has made some significant contribution in driving the third wave democratization, and has helped to sustain the exercise through the wide spread information and communication technology; it has nevertheless also contributed to the denigration or erosion of democratic values. Most importantly it has reduced if not eroded the importance and relevance of the nation state as the primary repository of sovereignty. It has made the state mere observer in the decision making processes of its domestic and even international policies. In this way is not only national sovereignty that is at stake but also democratic sovereignty (Parenti 2007). In fact globalization has blocked the establishment of economic conditions necessary for genuine democracy to take place through the imposition of models, strategies and development policies of the IFIS that tend to not only block but stultify the development initiatives of the local population.  By imposing economic policies based on the needs and interests of external capital and transforming the economies of African states into enclave economies linked to the out side but with very little linkages among them, divisions within African countries are accentuated and the emergence of national consciousness and a sense of common destiny are frustrated. Democracy with its emphasis on tolerance and compromise can hardly thrive in such an environment (The Challenges of Globalization 2002). The paradox of globalization is that while it calls for transparency, accountability and responsiveness of leaders to the needs and aspirations of its citizenry, it at the same time vitiates the states capability and effectiveness in meeting these objectives. Yet central to the success of market reform engendered by the global actors is the effectiveness of the state. This underscores the state shrinkage that accompanies these reforms.


After an assessment of the feature of the fourth republic era, the study suggest that the only reliable recommendation, therefore is to allow democratic principles of governance to take its course. This means the attitudes of Nigerians must concur with democratic principles. The expectation is that the attitude of any public or political office holder would help in actualization of having viable strong democratic institutions. After all if attitudes and institutions stand strong the issue managing resources would naturally manifest accountability and transparency.


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