In this article I argue that TNCs are the most powerful actors under globalization. Additionally, I contend that the contradictory relationship between TNCs and the state represents one of the most important aspects of this era. The core of this article, however, probes the issue of future outcomes of globalization. My point is that, while globalization is a response of the dominant groups to the gains and status that subordinate classes obtained under Fordism, it contains important contradictions that allow the possibility for the democratization of contemporary society. Under Fordism, subordinate classes’ gains established never-reached-before levels of substantive democracy. Globalization represents a dominant class’ response to this situation and, above all, an attack on labor and class based movements and the historical Left. Under globalization, the historical Left’s ability to organize and find strength in the factories and agricultural fields has been significantly diminished. Resistance emerged from new social movements. The environmental and consumer movements are two among these new social movements. Because of their focus on quality of life and consumption, they have the possibility to counter TNCs and establish substantive forms of democracy. My point is that these new social movements represent new emancipatory actors in the era of globalization. New emancipatory actors are accompanied by spaces of emancipation. I identify one of these spaces in the state. Because of its contradictory relationship with TNCs, the state is called to support and legitimize corporate actions in a situation in which TNCs tend to by-pass state demands and consequently limit the state’s ability to assist them. This situation opens up a crisis of legitimation in which the state is called to justify actions that it cannot fully control and regulate. I further argue that the contradiction of realization experienced by TNCs is another space of emancipatory action. I argue that TNCs’ need to realize their production – i.e., to sell the commodities they produce in order to transform them into money – makes them vulnerable to new social movements’ demands and create the possibility for more ethically and socially acceptable forms of production. I conclude the article by arguing that, in spite of the above mentioned contradictions and anti-corporate movements, TNCs remain firmly in control of contemporary society. This situation makes the attainment of more democratic conditions a contested terrain whose outcome will be decided by the ability of alternative forces to exploit globalization’s contradictions and use available spaces of emancipation.
How to Cite
Bauman, Zygmunt. 1998. Globalization: The Human Consequences. New York: Columbia University Press.
Barry, John, Scott Johnson, Jay Wagner, William Underhill and Elizabeth Angell. 1999. “Frankenstain Foods?” Newsweek September 13: 33-35.
------.1992. Intimations of Postmodernity. New York: Routledge.
Beck, Ulrich. 1997. The Reinvention of Politics: Rethinking Modernity in the Global Social Order, translated by Mark Ritter. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
------.1995. Ecological Enlightenment. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press.
------.1992. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage.
Beck, Ulrich, Anthony Giddens and Scott Lash. 1994. Reflexive Modernization: Politics, Tradition and Aesthetics in the Modern Social Order. Stanford, CA.: Stanford University Press.
Bellamy Foster, John. 1993. “The Limits of Environmentalism without Class: Lessons from the Ancient Forest Struggle in the Pacific Northwest.” Capitalism, Nature, Socialism (4) 1:11-42
Benton, Ted. 1996. The Greening of Marxism. New York. The Guilford Press.
Boggs, Carl. 2000. The End of Politics. Corporate Power and the Decline of the Public Sphere. New York: The Guilford Press.
Bonanno, Alessandro. 1993. “Agro-Food Sector and the Transnational State: The Case of the EC.” Political Geography. 12(4):341-360.
Bonanno, Alessandro and Robert J. Antonio. 2003. “Democracy in the Era of Globalization.” Pp 43-66 in Michael Bell, Fred Hendricks and Azril Bacal (eds.) Walking Towards Justice: Democratization in Rural Life. Bristol, Great Britain: Elsevier Ltd.
Bonanno, Alessandro and Bill Blume. 2001. “The Environmental Movement and labor in Global Capitalism: Lessons from the Case of the Headwaters Forest.” Agriculture and Human Values.
Bonanno Alessandro and Douglas Constance. 2000.“Powers and Limits of Transnational Corporations: the Case of ADM.” Rural Sociology 65 (3): 440-460.
------.1996. Caught in the Net. The Global Tuna Industry, Environmentalism & the State. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.
Bonanno, Alessandro and Karen Bradley. 1994. “Spatial Relations in the Global Socio-Economic System and the Implications for Development.” Pp. 49-64 in David Syms and Anton Jansen (eds.) Agricultural Restructuring and Rural Change in Europe. Wageningen: The WAU Press.
Buttel, Frederick H. 1994. “Agricultural Change, Rural Society, and the State in Late Twenty Century: Some Theoretical Observations.” Pp. 13-31 in David Symes and Anton J. Jansen (eds.) Agricultural Restructuring and Rural Change in Europe. Wageningen: the WAU Press.
Buttel, Frederick H. and Philip McMichael. 1994. “Reconsidering the Explanandum and Scope of Development Studies: Toward a Comparative Sociology of State-Economy Relations.” Pp. 42-61 in David Booth Rethinking Social Development: Theory, Research and Practice. Harlow: Longman.
Coates, David. 2000. Models of Capitalism. Growth and Stagnation in the Modern Era.Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Constance, Douglas and Alessandro Bonanno. 1999. “Hegemonic Discourses: The Environmental Crisis of Hog Production.” Culture & Agriculture 21 (1):14-26.
Dewey, Scott. 1998. “Working for the Environment: Organized Labor and the Origins of Environmentalism in the United States: 1948-1970.” Environmental History 1:45-63.
Dixon, Jane. 1999. “A Cultural Economy Model for Studying Food Systems.” Agriculture and Human Values 16(2): 151-160.
Dreiling, Michael.1998. “Form Margin to Center: Environmental Justice and Social Unionism as Sites for Intermovement Solidarity.” Race, Gender and Class 6:1:51-69.
------.1997. “Remapping North America Environmentalism: Contending Visions and Divergent Practices in the Fight over NAFTA.” Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 8 (4):65-98.
Eagleton, Terry. 1996. The Illusion of Postmodernism. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Faber, Daniel (ed). 1998. The Struggle for Ecological Democracy. New York: The Guilford Press.
Friedmann, Harriet. 1990. “Family Wheat Farmers and Third World Diets: A Paradoxical Relationship between Unwaged and Waged Labor.” Pp. 193-213 in J. Collins and M. Gimenez (eds.) Work Without Wages. New York: State University Press of New York.
Gabriel, Yiannis and Tim Lang. The Unmanageable Consumer. London: Sage.
Giddens, Anthony.2000. Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping Our Lives: New York: Routledge
------.1994. Beyond Left and Right. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Gilpin, Robert.2000. The Challenge of Global Capitalism. The World Economy in the 21st Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Gordon, David. 1996. Fat and Mean. The Corporate Squeeze of Working Americans and the Myth of Managerial “Downsizing”. New York: The Free Press.
Gordon, Robert. 1998. “Shell No! OCAW and the Labor-Environmental Alliance.” Environmental History 3:460-88.
Gottlieb, Robert. 1993. Forcing the Spring. Island Press. Washington, D.C.
Gray, John. 1998. False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism. New York: The New Press.
Gray, Mark. 2000. “Iowa Farmers and California Yuppies: Niche Pork Producers’ Concepts of their Customers. Paper presented at International Conference “The Role of Culture of the Agriculture of the 21st Century.” San Antonio, TX. February 25-26.
Greider, William. 1997. One World Ready or Not. The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Hammond, Allen. 1998. Which World? Scenarios for the 21st Century: Global Destinies, Regional Choices. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
Harvey, David. 2000. Spaces of Hope. Berkeley: University of California Press.
------.1990. The Condition of Postmodernity. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Hirst, Paul and Grahame Thompson. 1996. Globalization in Question. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Humphery, Kim 1998. Shelf Life. Supermarket and the Changing Cultures of Consumption. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jameson, Fredric.1994. Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press.
------.1984. “Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.” New Left Review 46:53-92.
Kluger, Jeffrey. 1999. “Food Fight.” Time Magazine September 13:43-44.
Lang, Tim. 1999. “The Complexity of Globalization: The UK as a Case Study of Tensions within the Food System and the Challenge to Food Policy.” Agriculture and Human Values 16 (2): 169-185.
Lash, Scott and John.1994. Economies of Signs & Space. London: Sage Publications.
Lash, Scott, Bronislaw Szerszynski, and Brian Wynne. 1996. Risk, Environment and Modernity. London: Sage.
Lipietz, Alan. 1987. Mirages and Miracles. London: Verso.
Llambí, Luis and Lourdes Gouveia. 1994. “The Restructuring of the Venezuelan State and State Theory.” International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food 4:64-83.
Low, Murray. 1997. “Representation Unbound: Globalization and Democracy.” Pp.240-280 in Kevin Cox (ed.) Spaces of Globalization. New York: The Guilford Press.
Mandel, Ernest. 1976. Introduction to Karl Marx’s Capital. London: New Left Review.
Marcuse, Herbert. 1964. One Dimensional Man. Boston: Beacon Press.
Marx, Karl and Frederick Engels 1977. Capital. New York: Vintage Books.
Melucci, Alberto. 1996. Challenging Codes: Collective Action in the Information Age. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Merchant, Carolyn. 1997. Ecology. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press.
Miele, Mara and Jonathan Murdoch. 2000. “Fast Food/Slow Food: Resisting Standardization in Food Consumption.” Paper presented at the X World Congress of Rural Sociology. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August.
Miller, Daniel. 1995. (Ed.) Acknowledging Consumption. London: Routledge.
Mingione, Enzo. 1993. “Marxism, Ecology, and Political Movements.” Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 4(2):85-92.
Money, Janette. 1992. “The Decentralization of Collective Bargaining in Belgium, France and the United States.” Pp. 77-110 in Michael Golden and John. Pontusson (eds.) Bargaining for Change: Union Politics in North America and Europe. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Obach, Brian. 1999. “The Wisconsin Labor-Environmental Network.” Organization & Environment 12(1):45-74.
O'Connor, James.1988. “Capitalism, Nature, Socialism: A Theoretical Introduction.” Capital, Nature Socialism 1 (1):11-38.
Parsons, Talcott.1971. The System of Modern Societies. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
Piccone, Paul. 1995. “Postmodern Populism.” Telos 103:45-86.
Regini, Marino. 1992. (Ed.) The Future of Labor Movements. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Rieff, David. 1993. “Multiculturalism’s Silent Partner.” Harper 287 (August): 62-72.
Sassen Saskia. 1998. Globalization and its Discontents. New York: The New Press.
Schnaiberg, Allan. 1980. The Environment: From Surplus to Scarcity. New York: Oxford Press.
Shabecoff, Philip. 1993. A Fierce Green Fire. The American Environmental Movement. New York: Hill and Wang.
United Nations. 2002. Annual Human Development Report. New York: The United Nations.
Walker, Richard A. 1997. “Fields of Dreams, or the Best Game in Town.” Pp. 273-284 in David Goodman and Michael J. Watts (eds.) Globalizing Food. Agrarian Question and Global Restructuring.. London: Routledge.
Western, Bruce. 1995. “A Comparative study of Working-Class Disorganization: Union Decline in Eighteen Advanced capitalist Countries.” American Sociological Review 60: 179-201.
Yergin, Daniel and Joseph Stanislaw. 1998. Commanding Heights. New York: Simon & Schust