National policy space: reframing the political economy of globalization and its implications for national sovereignty and democracy
This paper critiques the trilemma framing of the political economy of globalization, and offers an alternative framing based on the construction of national policy space. The paper makes three main contributions. First, building on Stein (2016), it deconstructs the categories used by Rodrik (2011) and introduces distinctions between the “degree”, “type”, and “dimensions” of globalization; “effective” versus “formal” national sovereignty; “content” versus “process” of democracy; and “national” versus “global” democracy. The deconstruction shows countries face choices involving a series of margins, not a trilemma. Second, that suggests reframing the problematic in terms of national policy space, which is the “funnel” through which globalization impacts democracy and national sovereignty. Third, the paper shows a country can be impacted by globalization even if it does nothing because other countries’ actions change its possibility set. The reframing shows globalization is an intrinsically political project. To the extent it is now driving a nationalistic anti-democratic turn in politics, responsibility lies with political elites.
JEL Classification: F0; F02; F50.
Keywords: Globalization trilemma policy space sovereignty democracy policy lock-in