World culture in the world polity: A century of international and non-governmental organization. American Sociological Review 1997(62).
Boli & Thomas (1997) trace the origins of what can be called a global society. Examining the first major wave of organizations that helped create global political and social norms, the authors establish the case that a global society exists. This global society can be conceived of as a unified polity with shared social systems and norms. International NGOs (INGOs) are one of the institutional hallmarks of the global society. The study of INGOs illustrates the structure and function of global culture. Furthermore, INGOs can and should expand their role. Because they transcend the peculiarities of insular cultures and the nation-states that support them, INGOs present opportunities for human rights improvements.
Nation-states have generally responded well to the role of INGOs. INGOs have made major inroads in helping create a global society, especially in the sciences, the humanities, and various professions. Although states may remain in control of specific issues such as professional licensing, the INGO is more responsible for creating the culture within those professions.
In some ways, the influence of INGOs is paradoxical. The environment is one arena in which INGOs play a conflicting role. The global business culture often conflicts with traditional boundaries of the nation-state; and each of those interests conflicts with the best interests of environmental integrity. INGOs have made inroads in promoting womens rights as human rights, by pressuring state entities to embrace pro-female policies. The formal characteristics of global culture include universalism, individualsm, rational voluntaristic authority, progress, and world citizenship (p. 187). The INGO is replacing the state as the most significant force in political philosophy.
Questions: The control of military power remains squarely within the hands of the traditional nation-state, decades after some of the first INGOs were formed. Is there potential for the militarization of any or several INGOs? If so, what would the implications of such militarization be? Can conglomerations of like-minded nation-states serve similar functions as INGOs, only.