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The Globalization Reader, 5th Edition by John Boli, Frank J. Lechner

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9 World Society and the Nation-State

John W. Meyer, John Boli, George M. Thomas, and Francisco O. Ramirez

This essay reviews arguments and evidence concerning the following proposition: Many features of the contemporary nation-state derive from worldwide models constructed and propagated through global cultural and associational processes. These models and the purposes they reflect (e.g., equality, socioeconomic progress, human development) are highly rationalized, articulated, and often surprisingly consensual. Worldwide models define and legitimate agendas for local action, shaping the structures and policies of nation-states and other national and local actors in virtually all of the domains of rationalized social life – business, politics, education, medicine, science, even the family and religion. The institutionalization of world models helps explain many puzzling features of contemporary national societies, such as structural isomorphism in the face of enormous differences in resources and traditions, ritualized and rather loosely coupled organizational efforts, and elaborate structuration to serve purposes that are largely of exogenous origins. World models have long been in operation as shapers of states and societies, but they have become especially important in the postwar era as the cultural and organizational development of world society has intensified at an unprecedented rate.

The operation of world society through peculiarly cultural and associational processes ...

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