Saturday, May 3, 2008

When borders are a Hindrance and a Competitive Advantage

When borders are a Hindrance and a Competitive Advantage
From Chapter 1
“Neither modern political theory nor international relations theory has an impressive record when it comes to theorizing the problems posed by borders, frontiers, and identity. In the case of Anglo-American liberal political theory, the dominant tendency is to regard political life as regulated by some kind of contract, and the bounded nature of the society that contains the “contractors” is generally uninvestigated. Non-liberal approaches, on the other hand, focus more explicitly on the community, which, in principle at least, involves a greater awareness of the importance of borders’ however, the impact of global social and economic change means that the notion of a bordered, self-contained community that is at the heart of these approaches has become difficult to sustain. The absence of either a liberal or a non-liberal theory of borders has become a major source of embarrassment for political theory.
What is interesting is that international relations theory is also underdeveloped in this area. Certainly, scholars of international relations have studied frontiers, but not in the context of borders and identity. Studying frontiers was the sort of thing that international lawyers did, or global bureaucrats, not international relations theorists.” Mathias. (Albert, 2001)

When we look at International Relations we must look at the borders that divide people. There are many ways to look at the divisions. There is the view that humans have control over those divisions and they are thus arbitrary or intentional. Then there is the view that these divisions or borders are natural and all we need is to “understand” them to in a partial way “control” them. I opt for a mix of them both and am partial to the latter view first. Humans act and react using specific processes. The first paradigm to understand in relation to borders is that of the “pecking order.” This idea was discovered by Thorleif Schjelderup-Ebbe in the early twentieth century. Borders are held by some form of power be it benign or malevolent. The power runs the course of a continuum that is perceived differently by people at different ends of the power grid. The understanding of the power grid is paramount to fully using it ethically to participate in a manner that empowers and sustains the nature of humanity. They become a hindrance when…

An excerpt from the book: “International Human Relations, Interpersonal Work Skills” by Frank Mueller and Dena Mueller due out in May of 2010. © 2008 All rights Reserved

Albert, Mathias. (2001). Identities, Borders, Orders: Rethinking International Relations Theory.
Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press.

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