- Origins of Globalization in the Framework of the Afroeurasian World-System History
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- Globalization as Evolutionary Process - George Modelski - Innbundet () » Bokkilden
Then, as today, these organisations have functioned as the common property of the core countries. What is new is the extent and power of transnational institutionalisation over the last three decades. This is one of the senses in which the emergence of global governance Murphy, has come to be used.
Origins of Globalization in the Framework of the Afroeurasian World-System History
The other sense, which is more prospective and utopian, relates to the enquiry into the transnational political institutions which will, in future, correspond to the economic and social globalisation currently in progress Falk, ; Chase-Dunn et al. Some authors have transposed the structural conflicts of the previous period onto the new arena of globalisation and imagine the political counterparts which this will bring into being. Whilst for some they have a secondary role, given that the capitalist world economy is more integrated into political and military power and market independence then into a normative and cultural consensus Chase-Dunn, 88 , for others, political power, cultural domination and institutionalized values and norms precede market dependence in the development of the world system and the stability of the interstate system Meyer, ; Bergesen, Although the question of the original matrix of globalisation is posed in relation to each of the dimensions of globalisation, it is in the domain of cultural globalisation that it is posed more acutely or more frequently.
The issue is to determine whether what is termed globalisation should not be more correctly termed Westernisation or Americanisation Ritzer, , since the values, cultural artifacts and universal symbols which are globalised are Western and, often, specifically North American, whether individualism, political democracy, economic rationality, utilitarianism, the supremacy of law, the cinema, advertising, television, the Internet etc.
In this context, the electronic media, especially television, have become one of the great issues of the debate. Although the importance of the globalisation of the media is emphasised by all, not everyone draws the same conclusions from this. Appadurai, for example, sees in this one of the two factors the other is mass migration responsible for the rupture with the period we have just left behind the world of modernisation and the period we are just entering the post-electronic world Appadurai, It is no longer confined to the romantic individual and the expressive space of art, myth and ritual but is part of the everyday life of ordinary citizens ibid.
This theme acts in conjunction with another equally central one within the context of cultural globalisation, that of determining to what point globalisation creates homogeneity. If, for some authors, the specific features of local and national cultures are at risk Ritzer, , for others globalisation produces homogeneity as much as it produces diversity Robertson and Khondker, Institutional similarity, particularly in economic and political domains, coexists with the affirmation of differences and particularities.
For Friedman , cultural and ethnic fragmentation on the one hand and modernist homogeneity on the other, are not two opposing perspectives of what is taking place, but rather two trends which both constitute global reality Featherstone, In the same way, Appadurai emphasizes that the electronic media, far from being the opium of the people, are actively processed by individuals and by groups, and are fertile ground for exercises in resistance, selectivity and irony 7. Appadurai has come to stress the growing role of the imagination in a social life dominated by globalisation.
It is through imagination that citizens are disciplined and controlled by states, markets and other dominant interests but it is also through imagination that citizens develop collective systems of dissidence and new representations of collective life What is not clear in these positions is the elucidation of the social power relations which preside over the production of both homogeneity and differentiation. This elucidation is particularly useful for a critical analysis of the process of hybridisation or creolisation which result from the confrontation or cohabitation of homogenizing trends and particularizing trends Hall and McGrew, ; Appadurai, Another central theme in the discussion of the cultural dimensions of globalisation — also related to the previous debate — refers to the question of determining whether, in recent decades, a global culture has emerged Featherstone, ; Waters, It has been understood for a long time that since at least the 16th century a hegemonic ideology of European science, economics, politics and religion has produced, through cultural imperialism, some similarities between the different national cultures in the world system.
The question now is to know whether, in addition to this, certain cultural forms have emerged in recent decades which are transnational in origin or whose national origins are relatively unimportant in view of the fact that they circulate throughout the world more or less without roots in any national culture.
These cultural forms are identified by Appadurai as mediascapes and ideoscapes , by Leslie Sklair as the consumerist culture-ideology and by Anthony Smith as a new cultural imperialism From another perspective, the theory of international regimes has begun to draw our attention towards the processes of forming consensuses on a world level and to the emergence of a normative global order Keohane and Nye, ; Keohane, ; Krasner, ; Haggard and Simmons, And, from yet another perspective, the theory of international structure accentuates the way in which Western culture has created social actors and significant cultures for the whole world Thomas et al.
The idea of a global culture is clearly one of the main projects of modernity. As Stephen Toulmin brilliantly demonstrates, this can be identified from Leibniz to Hegel and from the 17th century until our own. Sociological attention given to this idea in the last three decades has, nevertheless, had a specific empirical base.
It is believed that the dramatic intensification of transfrontier flows of goods, capital, work, people, ideas and information has given rise to convergences, similarities and hybrids between the different national cultures, whether they are architectural styles, fashion, eating habits or cultural consumption. Nevertheless most of the authors maintain that, although important, these processes are far from leading to a global culture.
Culture is, by definition, a social process constructed on the intersection between the universal and the particular. Similarly, Appadurai states that the cultural is the arena of differences, contrasts and comparisons We may even state that that culture is, in its simplest definition, the struggle against uniformity.
The powerful and involved processes of the diffusion and imposition of culture, imperialistically defined as universal, have been confronted throughout the world system by multiple and ingenious processes of cultural resistance, identification and indigenisation. However, the topic of global culture does have the merit of showing that the political struggle surrounding cultural homogeneity and uniformity has transcended the territorial configuration in which it was located from the 19th century until very recently, that is, the nation state.
In this respect, the nation states have traditionally played a very ambiguous role. Whilst externally they have been the heralds of cultural diversity and the authenticity of national culture, internally they have promoted homogeneity and uniformity, crushing the rich variety of local cultures existing in within national territories through the power of politics, law, the education system or the media and, more often than not, through all of them together.
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This role has been carried out with very varied intensity and efficiency in the core, peripheral and semi-peripheral states, and may now be changing as part of the ongoing transformations to the regulatory capacities of nation states. Under the conditions of the world capitalist economy and the modern inter-state system, there seems only to be space for partial global cultures.
They are partial, whether in terms of the aspects of social life which they cover or in terms of the regions of the world they cover. Seen from outside Europe, particularly by regions and people intensively colonised by the Europeans, this family of cultures is the quintessential version of Western imperialism, in the name of which so much tradition and cultural identity has been destroyed. Given the hierarchical nature of the world system, it becomes crucial to identify the groups, classes, interests and states which define partial cultures as global cultures, and which, in this way, control the agenda of political domination under the guise of cultural globalisation.
If it is true that the intensification of cross-border contacts and interdependence has opened up new opportunities for the exercise of tolerance, ecumenism, solidarity and cosmopolitanism, it is no less true that, at the same time, new forms and manifestations of intolerance, chauvinism, racism and xenophobia and, in the last instance, imperialism have also arisen.
Partial global cultures can, in this way, have very different characters, scope and political profiles. In the current circumstances it is only possible to visualise pluralist or plural global cultures. Within the cultural domain, the neo-liberal consensus is very selective. Cultural phenomena are only of interest in so far as they transform themselves into merchandise which can then follow the trail of economic globalisation. Thus the consensus relates, above all, to technical and legal support for the production and circulation of the products of the culture industries such as, for example, communications and information technology and the rights of intellectual property.
References made in previous sections to the dominant facets of what is usually termed globalisation, in addition to omitting an underlying theory of globalisation, may well give the false impression that globalisation is a linear phenomenon, both monolithic and unequivocal. This idea of globalisation, although false, is prevalent nowadays, and tends to be all the more so for the globalisation which flows from scientific discourse into political discourse and thence into everyday language.
Apparently transparent and without complexity, the idea of globalisation masks more than it reveals of what is happening in the world.
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And what it masks or hides is, when viewed from a different perspective, so important that the transparency and simplicity of the idea of globalisation, far from being innocent, must be considered as an ideological and political device endowed with specific intentionalities. Two of these intentionalities should be stressed. The first is what is known as the determinist fallacy. It consists of inculcating the idea that globalisation is a spontaneous, automatic, unavoidable and irreversible process which intensifies and advances according to an inner logic and dynamism strong enough to impose themselves on any external interferences.
The most circumspect of academics, as well as the ambassadors of globalisation embrace this fallacy. From amongst the former, I would point out Manuel Castells, for whom globalisation is the unavoidable result of the revolution in information technology. The fallacy consists in transforming the causes of globalisation into its effects. Globalisation results, in fact, from a set of political decisions which are identifiable in time and authorship. The Washington Consensus is a political decision of the core states, as are the decisions of the states which adopted it with a greater or lesser degree of autonomy and selectivity.
We cannot forget that, to a great extent, and above all on an economic and political level, hegemonic globalisation is a product of the decisions of national states. The deregulation of the economy, for example, has been an eminently political act. The proof of this lies in the diverse responses of the national states to the political pressures currently emerging out of the Washington Consensus. Equally political in nature are the reflections on the new forms of state which are emerging as a result of globalisation, on the new political distribution of national, international and global practices, and on the new form of public policies relating to the rising complexity of social, environmental and redistribution issues.
The second political intentionality of the non-political nature of globalisation is the fallacy of the disappearance of the South. The situation began to change in the sixties taking into account theories of dependency or dependent development and was radically transformed from the eighties onwards. Today, whether on a financial level, or on the level of production or even of consumption, the world has become integrated into a global economy in which, faced with multiple interdependencies, it no longer makes sense to distinguish between North and South and, furthermore, between the core, periphery and semi-periphery of the world system.
The more triumphant the concept of globalisation is, the less visible the South, or the hierarchies of the world system, become. The idea is that globalisation has a uniform impact on all the regions of the world and on all sectors of activity and that its architects, the multinational companies, are infinitely innovative and have the ability to organise well enough to transform the new global economy into an unprecedented opportunity. Even the authors who recognise that globalisation is highly selective, produces imbalances and has a variable geometry, tend to think that it has destructured the hierarchies of the previous world economy.
According to him, the latest international division of labour has not occurred amongst countries but amongst economic agents and distinct positions in the global economy which compete globally, using the technological infrastructure of the information economy and the organizational structure of networks and flows In this sense it also no longer makes sense to distinguish between the core, periphery and semi-periphery in the world system.
The new economy is a global economy, as distinct from the world economy.
Globalization as Evolutionary Process - George Modelski - Innbundet () » Bokkilden
Whilst the latter is based on the accumulation of capital, obtained throughout the world, the global economy is able to function as a unit in real time and on a planetary scale Without wishing to diminish the importance of the transformations taking place, I do however think that Castells takes the image of globalisation as an all-powerful bulldozer, against which there can be no possible resistance, at least in economic terms, too far. And equally, he takes the idea of the segmentation of the processes of inclusion-exclusion which are taking place too far.
In the first place, it is Castells himself who recognises that the processes of exclusion can extend to an entire continent Africa and entirely dominate the processes of inclusion in a subcontinent Latin America Secondly, even admitting that the global economy no longer needs geo-political areas in which to reproduce itself, the truth is that the external debt continues to be accounted for in terms of individual countries and it is through this and through the financialisation of the economic system that the poor countries of the world have become transformed, from the eighties onwards, into net contributors to the wealth of the rich countries.
In third place, contrary to what may be understood from the framework drawn up by Castells, the convergence of countries in the global economy is as significant as their divergence and this is particularly obvious in the core countries Drache, Since salary and social security policies continue to be defined on a national level, liberalisation measures taken since the eighties have not significantly reduced the differences in labour costs in the different countries.
It is true that the liberalization of markets has destructured the processes of inclusion and exclusion in different countries and regions. However, the most important thing is to analyse the ratio between inclusion and exclusion in each country. It is this ratio which determines whether the country belongs to the North or the South and to the core, periphery or semi-periphery of the world system.