The world today is made up of a still growing number of independent countries (formally referred to as states) founded, most often, on the basis of a national identification. And, it is in this sense that they are frequently termed nation-states. Since the birth of modernity, the existing states have had to deal with the reality of belonging to a wider global community. Indeed, most political theorists suggest that the modern system of international states dates from the Treaty of Westphalia in the 17th century. This arrangement, however, did little to abate the conflict and war that still largely characterizes international relations. In fact, even the creation of supra-national organizations such as, first, the League of Nations (1920) and, then, the United Nation (1945) has merely added new tensions to the global environment by obligating governments to cope with both the national (internal) bases of the state and the demands of internationalism.
Indeed, the global, the international, the supra-national (it matters little what we call it) can come into conflict with the deeply embedded 'nationalisms' of nation-states and their members. And so long as peoples' paramount identity is wedded to a national state, they will feel variously threatened by the manifold manifestations of internationalism. Unfortunately, many of them have and will continue to die because of this perceived threat to their very sense of self. It is therefore quite evident that globalization (if we mean by this the existence of global arenas of trade, politics and culture) is hardly a new phenomenon but one whose acceleration poses new challenges for human beings and societies all over the world.
This book is intended to provide a framework to study and analyze social life in general and apply its concepts to some key situations and problems that characterize today's global society.
Dr. Lynn-Darrell Bender
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