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Transforming the European Nation-State and Social Internationalisation

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In Kjell Goldmann’s Transforming the European Nation-State the three dimensions of internationalization that he defines are problems, societies, and decisions.

Goldmann defines the internationalization of problems as the penetration of extra-national forces causing the promulgation of domestic problems. What this means is that problems that nation-states are challenged with, in today’s world, are rooted in the seeds of other nation-states, and often not the result of a nation-states own vices. Goldmann refers to environmental problems like emissions from the UK being blown into the Scandinavian region, and the catastrophic results of the Chernobyl nuclear accident as examples of large-scale problems imposed on innocent, by-standing nation-states.

He continues by citing the European Environmental Agencies delineation of the Europe’s 12 most significant environmental problems, concluding that for the most part, the existence of these problems in certain nations come as a result of others (Goldmann 10). Furthermore, and in line with the terrorist attacks on New York City over one year ago, Goldmann also identifies the already large and growing problem of international crime. In conclusion to his description of the internationalization of problems, he makes the assertion that, whether problems are regarded as such or not by a given nation-state, they exist and are more often than not rooted in places outside of the nation-state.

Societal internationalization is defined by Goldmann simply as, “…the intensification of all kinds of human relations across nation-state borders” (Goldmann 12). He notes drastic changes in the economy as being a telltale sign of increased international human interaction, making reference to leaps in international economic relations post-1970. Increased activity in terms of communication, culture, and migration are also noted as important signals of societal internationalization, but are noted as more difficult to track given their qualitative nature (Goldmann 14). Nonetheless, even in a qualitative sense, it is evident in day to day life, through media, that societies are exposed to and influences by one another in all parts of the world.

The third dimension of internationalization is that of decisions. This dimension is characterized by Goldmann by four key elements that contribute to increasingly advanced internationalization:

1. consultation with others before national decisions are made,

2. negotiated agreements,

3. decision-making by intergovernmental organizations, and

4. supranational decision-making (Goldmann 16).

He notes that these factors, all or in part, are associated with the decisions that national governments make regarding both domestic and externally directed policies.

The interplay of these dimensions is quite simple in theory; that is that all have a relatively logical relationship with one another. The relationship between problems and decisions is characterized by the fact that international problems require international decisions. However, somewhat ironically, the formulation of international decisions can also result in international problems. For example, a nation-state holding a position in an international organization may be subjected to (unwanted) sacrifices associated with the decisions of that organization. The next relationship is between societies and problems; the increasing level of international civil society also increases the level of exposure to problems within the international order.

On the other hand, international civil society is a new force ready to unite in the fight against certain international problems. Goldmann sites the example of the public’s effect on disarmament of nuclear weapons and stockpiling (Goldmann 31). The final relationship is between societies and decisions. Here, Goldmann returns to the notion that heightened social interaction and movement (which has impacted economic interaction most of all) prompts greater internationally-geared policy formation (which is mainly economic). Goldmann identifies the impact of decisions on societies in a congruent manner noting that they serve to better unify trans-national cooperation between special interests. The overall nature of all relationships is that they are respectively mutually re-enforcing of one another (Goldmann 35).

The discussion of exogenous and endogenous dynamics of internationalization in Goldmann seems rather complicated. Simply, however, it can be said that endogenous dynamics are those that originate within a nationalist framework from issues that are state-based, while exogenous dynamics are created in the trans-national sphere. This is not to say that problems that originate in one state are non-existent in another, and that solutions are not devised between governments, because the opposite is in fact the truth. For example, in the Swedish Government’s EU Policy Document the need to remedy the global economic situation is a central task (Swedish Government 6). The global economic situation is most certainly not a wholly Swedish problem, but, in part, it is. For this reason, Sweden along with all other EU member countries will endeavor to improve economic conditions in Europe and the world so that respective associated national problems will also be remedied.

An example of an exogenous dynamic of internationalization is the security aspect of the Swedish Government document. The goal to improve networks of information and strategy in the fight against organized crime is a truly global undertaking. This statement is reinforced by the European nations’ initiatives to unite (together and) with countries from around the world against a common enemy. Due to the high level of global integration within the EU, The Swedish Government’s EU Policy Document section pertaining to freedom, security, justice, and battling terrorist activities demonstrates a thoroughly exogenous dynamic of internationalization.


Goldmann, Kjell, 2001. Transforming the European Nation-State. London: Sage


Holden, Barry (ed.), 2000. Global Democracy. London: Routledge.

Pierson, Christopher, 1996. The Modern State. London: Routledge.

Stevenson, Nick, 1999. The Transformation of the Media: Globalization, Morality, and

Ethics. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Swedish Government, 2002. The Swedish Government’s EU Policy Goals for 2002.

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