Politik und Gesellschaft Online
International Politics and Society 2/1999


There will be no equal opportunities for women and men without a fundamental reordering of the relationship between market and household - i.e. the "public" and the "private" economic spheres in their true sense. At present, the market is currently creating totally new relationships here and is depriving the roles which have so far been allocated to the sexes of their material basis. In issue 4/1998, Elisabeth Stiefel considered these interrelationships in terms of the threats to the protection that exists for human "reproduction". In this issue, Birgit Sauer, a political scientist from Vienna, is tackling the subject again from the perspective of altered opportunities in life for women (and men). The review section offers additional viewpoints regarding this at once central and neglected aspect of the massive social change we are experiencing.

Hegemony of the world market versus residual scope for political action: this contrast not only structures Birgit Sauer's discussion of female emancipation strategies, but dominates the entire globalisation debate - and this publication is no exception. Recreating scope for political action at supranational level is an important theme, and it finds its purest expression in the "global governance" debate (cf. Dirk Messner in our last issue). The "EU governance" debate is basically a regional variation on this. Friedrich Heinemann's consideration of the question of European tax harmonisation and our rather wider-ranging "debate" on policy harmonisation in general fall under this theme.

The "governance" debate pushed another important perspective into the background: economic globalisation is taking place in a global arena which is still structured politically, and it ultimately acquires its impact from the scope granted to it by "politics". This idea not only brings the left-wing theme of the relationship between class interests and state activity into play, but also the inter-state power structure. Hans-Joachim Spanger, the Frankfurt-based political scientist, shows how, in this "geo-economic" perspective, global economic structures become the object of national interests - particularly in the United States, which as a superpower has a certain affinity to geo-economic thinking (cf. Czempiel in issue 2/1997). That Europe has notorious difficulties with the role of a global policy-maker and at best tends to bring "national" interests to bear on petty matters is highlighted once again by the article on European policy on the Mediterranean by Volker Perthes, the Middle East expert from Ebenhausen.

The tension that exists between the concepts of a depoliticised world market, global governance, and the continuing primacy of national realpolitik constitute a challenge not only for the interpreters of political events, but also for the protagonists who create them. This forms the background to the article by Qingguo Jia, a member of China's young academic elite, who provides an inside view into the People's Republic of China's foreign policy learning curve. It is a description of a maturing major power emancipating itself in a world which is no longer seen as hostile, but is certainly viewed in terms of realpolitik. As Jia emphasises, China is still learning. But no state is entitled to act as teacher.

Whilst China is gaining ground as a global player, the community of nations has acquired a host of new members as a result of the break-up of the Soviet Union, and it will take quite some time to assign them their places. Some of them have the potential to become new "powers". One of these is Ukraine. Andreas Wittkowsky's article helps us to understand this large entity, whose feet are still very much of clay.

Will the crisis in eastern Asia become a permanent topic in INTERNATIONAL POLITICS AND SOCIETY? No - but Eddy Lee, "chief economist" at the ILO, summarises very clearly the sometimes rather diffuse debate about this global economic shock.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition juliag | März 1999