In the current world, globalization can be viewed both in a social context and in economic terms. For instance, it can address the unity and international openness of people all around the world, but it can also mean global trade, international political and economic associations, and so on. Thus, the extent to which a country can preserve its autonomy and impose its will on others in the age of globalization largely depends on the particular aspect of globalization that is under consideration.
O’Neill et al. discuss the case of France in both contexts. They highlight that the country is experiencing difficulties due to globalization. For example, economic and political autonomy has proved to be extremely difficult to achieve in the current global situation, primarily because France is part of the European Union. The recent economic crisis within the European Union has undermined the country’s ability to conduct certain domestic reforms that were aimed at increasing French economic autonomy (O’Neill et al. 195). Thus, France is now committed to ensuring the financial stability of the European Union, and in most cases, this commitment comes first, before the country’s desire for economic autonomy.
Nevertheless, the lack of financial independence due to the country’s active participation in the global economy did not prevent the preservation of French social and cultural autonomy. O’Neill et al. explain that, as a legacy of the French Revolution, the French have a powerful sense of citizenship (152). Moreover, French people show a serious commitment to the promotion of the same values that were established during the Revolution: Even the country’s decision to get involved with the European Union was seen as a strategic tool to pursue French ideals rather than as a measure to achieve stability and ensure global cooperation (O’Neill et al. 197). This is exactly why the public’s support of the European Union has been decreasing in recent years (O’Neill et al. 153)—instead of becoming a stage for the country to promote its ideals in other parts of the world, being involved with the European Union has turned out to be a threat to the economic autonomy of France.
Another example of France’s social and cultural autonomy can be seen in the country’s ability to accommodate people of different ethnicities and religious beliefs while at the same time keeping a distinct national identity. As O’Neill et al. state, “It has long been a sacrosanct pillar of French political culture that national identity trumps religious or ethnic identity” (152). The country allows people of different religious and ethical backgrounds to be considered rightful French citizens, which undoubtedly strengthens the people’s sense of belonging, thus creating an independent nation. Through the complicated history of the country, French identity became the key feature of its citizens, thus creating a firm opposition to the forces of globalization.
Overall, I believe that preserving autonomy and imposing their will on others is a difficult task for any country. We can see that France’s attempts to promote its values on the global level have not been particularly effective, whereas its economic autonomy has largely been threatened by international trade and participation in international political and economic associations. However, a strong legacy has allowed the country to preserve its cultural autonomy by maintaining a national identity, which is supported and embraced by the citizens.
O’Neill, Patrick H. et al. Cases in Comparative Politics. W.W. Norton & Company, 2015.