(2004) JLP 50: 61-69




Arnaldo Moraes Godoy




Globalization has had an immense impact on traditional political concepts such as sovereignty. This paper argues that the modern nation-state is no longer the principal form of political rule across the globe and that legal pluralism could be on the rise. In South America, as globalization diminishes the size and burdens of traditional nation-states, legal pluralism seems to reappear in order to fill normative spaces that are left empty. This seems to happen, thanks to the new shape of a minimal state, as a result of a new world order. Legal pluralism can also represent a cluster of alternatives against the normative destruction that globalization has effected in the world’s legal cultures. Conflict between institutions in a worldwide trade of cultural values suggests the victory of the stronger. A sort of social Darwinism has been in operation and the weakest partners in today’s globalized world are facing the implementation of new forms of conflict compositions. Because there is a weak and minimal state present in most of South America today, traditional sources of power have been the objects of popular distrust. As one can easily find out in Brazil’s forensic and non-forensic realms, many different legal experiences have been unfolding. Several patterns of non-traditional jurisdiction, alternative dispute resolution in the field of labor law, neighborhood councils to prevent crime, lay arbitrators, etc. suggest there is something new in the air. The declining authority of the state has implications for the ordinary citizen, who wants options to solve the problems under which he or she labors. The paper reveals an unexpected relationship between globalization and legal pluralism in South America, presenting a case study in Brazil. It shows that instead of creating a world shaped by sameness, globalization can be responsible for the empowerment of local institutions. So there is a chance of rescue from an imminent tragedy of cultural loss that we are all about to face in less developed countries.