So what precisely is new about the notion of globalization? Not so much, some critics have argued. The novelty has been grossly overrated, it has been argued, by those who present globalization as an inevitable process, a juggernaut inexorably sweeping all before it Hirst and Thompson By implication, such critics have suggested, globalization is being defined as an irresistible contemporary process, a process portrayed as ultimately beneficial for humankind, or at least as inevitable. Such a view of globalization has been characterized as 'globaloney' by critics who prefer to focus upon resistance, based upon alternative understandings, linked to fundamentally different political objectives and geared towards achieving very different policy outcomes.
Before considering these critiques, however, the concept itself needs to be explored. In established development discourse, definitions of globalization include a number of related features.
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Meanwhile, this report continues, in parallel with these advances in communication technology, multinational companies. Raw materials and components may come from two different countries and be assembled in another, while marketing and distribution take place in still other venues. Consumers' decisions in, say, London or Tokyo become information that has an almost immediate impact on the products that are being made — and the styles that influence them — all over the globe.
The products in question may be automobiles or items of clothing, but the globalization of the processes of design, manufacture and marketing may be comparable. There are parallels here with the factors identified by Marx and Engels, but with the emphasis upon technological advances in communications, rather than in the social relations of production per se.
With a similar emphasis upon capital and the social relations of production as well as an emphasis upon new technologies including communication technologies War on Want's website defines globalization as 'the way that world trade, culture and technologies have become rapidly integrated over the last 20 years, as geographic distance and cultural difference no longer pose an obstacle to trade. New technologies have increased the ease of global communication, allowing money to change hands in the blink of an eye. Summarizing the sociological literature on differing approaches, Cohen and Kennedy start from Albrow's definition of globalization as referring to 'all those processes by which the peoples of the world are incorporated into a single society, global society' quoted in Cohen and Kennedy Cohen and Kennedy then go on to identify six component strands of globalization:.
On the basis of the changes that have taken place in communications technologies this list starts from the impact of these changes on people's perceptions of time and space, the 'time-space compression', which has been speeded up so dramatically by the development of electronic media. The accompanying effects in terms of increasing cultural interactions have also been widely identified as key features of globalization: we live in a global village, it has been argued, albeit a global village which is effectively dominated by Western, and particularly US, cultural influences.
Globalization is not simply a matter of culture and communications, however. As the subsequent items in Cohen and Kennedy's list indicate, globalization is also defined in terms of increasingly interconnected problems, including problems of the environment — which cannot be confined within national borders — and problems of poverty and civil strife, which give rise to the mass movements of peoples, as refugees and asylum-seekers.
These problems, in their turn, point to the economic and political dimensions of globalization, including the increasing power of transnational corporations, globally as well as locally. Their influence impacts on international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, as well as on national governments across the globe.
This links to debates about the changing role of the nation-state itself. As will be suggested below, one set of conclusions drawn from the increasing power of transnational corporations emphasizes the decreasing power of the nation-state — on its own, no national government can hope to influence, let alone control, the operations of transnational corporations.
Half the largest economies in the world are transnational corporations, not nation-states Cohen and Kennedy In an increasingly globalized context, it has been suggested, the nation-state has become, in many ways, redundant. Alternatively, however, as will be suggested in more detail below, critics have also argued that the effective demise of the nation-state has been vastly overemphasized Hirst and Thompson Nation-states, and particularly the most powerful nation-states and groupings of nation-states, can and do play key roles, too often facilitating the pursuit of the interests of transnational capital at the expense of the interests of labour and of the most oppressed and disadvantaged peoples, globally.
So even in an increasingly globalized context, in which political mobilizations need to focus on international targets, the nation-state also needs to remain a key focus for strategies for social change. Cohen and Kennedy conclude their discussion of definitions of globalization by exploring two related terms. While this theme emerges powerfully in the subsequent discussion of global social movements, this has also been contentious from the perspective of those critics who emphasize the conflicting rather than the common interests between global capital and labour, between the most powerful and the most oppressed peoples worldwide.
The other term that Cohen and Kennedy explore in this context is that of 'glocalization'. Far from conceptualizing globalization as a one-way process, sweeping all before it, sociologists such as Robertson, for example, have pointed to its interactive features: the global is also affected by contact with the local. There are two-way processes at work here. Robertson has defined the dynamics of globalization in terms of the 'twofold process of the particularization of the universal and the universalization of the particular' Robertson One reaction to the apparent tendency towards cultural homogenization has been an increased emphasis upon ethnic cultures and indigenous peoples' artefacts increasingly commodified as souvenirs, for the global tourist market.
Subsequent discussions of global social movements include examples of this type, as well as examples of socially progressive global movements.
Global Citizens: Social Movements and the Challenge of Globalization by Marjorie Mayo - narhouhatchrucon.cf
All three economic institutions have developed mechanisms to improve their relationships with NGOs. But while showing increased willingness to listen, the institutions have so far been reluctant to grant NGOs formal representational rights and access to the decision making process. As a result, O'Brien and his collaborators believe that in the short run the impact of global social movement "is unlikely to transform institutional functions. Some commentators point out that the very presence of radical and violent protesters has provided the moderate, reform-oriented NGOs with unprecedented access to the inner sanctum of the IMF and the World Bank.
Representative of Third World Countries continued their criticism and an unprecedented number of NGOs were invited to participate in the program. And while police action outside kept popular protests in the streets of Davos to a minimum, the UN General Secretary, Kofi Annan, declared renewed commitment towards reaching a so-called "Global Compact" - a project designed to monitor the performance of major companies with regard to human rights, working conditions and environmental protection.
But one can argue about the adequacy or significance of these changes.
The fundamental leitmotifs of the key multilateral economic institutions has not changed. Structural adjustment programs are still intact and neo-liberalism remains the modus operandi, and the underlying ideology, of global economic governance. Where, then, are the traces of Seattle? Contrary to the positions advocated by or implied in the Seattle protests, globalisation does not necessarily, or at least not only, lead to a centralisation of power and a corresponding loss of democratic participation and political accountability.
While these phenomena are undoubtedly occurring - and pose increasingly difficult ethical and political challenges to the world community - they are not the only aspects of globalisation. A focus on speed allows us to recognise the contradictory forces of globalisation, the manner in which its whirlwinds push and pull politics, form the local to the global, in a variety of directions. Quite to the contrary. There are at least two domains in which speed has magnified the possibilities for interfering with the conduct of global politics.
Many of the protesters that went to Seattle, Melbourne and Prague, for instance, were brought together by e-mail correspondences and a variety of web-sites that organised resistance against neo-liberal forms of globalisation. The increased ability to exchange information across large differences has had a tremendous influence on the mobilisation of dissent within civil society.
Social movements and NGOs that had hitherto existed in isolation can now easily communicate with each other. They can share data and insights about similar concerns and organise common actions in ways that was not possible before. The Internet was central to the camping insofar as it facilitated communication among activists, permitted publication of a related information and helped to put pressure on politicians and policy-makers in member states. The protests in Quebec City, for instance, have given raise to numerous web-sites that exchange information and coordinate future actions.
The World Bank, for instance, has started plans for a major online conference in order to avoid another round of public protests. Protest actions, such as street demonstrations or acts of civil disobedience, used to take place in a mostly local context. They engaged the spatial dynamics that were operative in the interactive relationship between ruler and ruler. The contraction of space, however, has altered the very foundations of these socio-political dynamics. An act of protest, as it took place in Seattle, now interacts in a much wider and more complex array of political spaces. Images of a protest march may flicker over television screens world-wide only hours after people have taken to the street.
As a result, a local act of resistance can acquire almost immediately a much larger, cross-territorial dimension. It competes for the attention of global television audiences and thus interferes with the struggle over values that ultimately shapes the world we live in. Nor is it as unproblematic as Klein suggests. For some the revolution of speed is too random to allow for critical interference and, indeed, for human agency.
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Jean Baudrillard, for instance, believes that the distinctions between reality and virtuality, political practice and simulation are blurred to the extent that they are no longer recognisable. The blurring of reality and virtuality has not annihilated dissent. The fact that televised images are hyperreal does not necessarily diminish their influence. Independently of how instantaneous, distorted and simulated images of a protest action may be, they still influence our perceptions of issues, and thus also our political responses to them.
To accept the logic of speed, then, is not to render political influence obsolete, but to acknowledge multiple and overlapping spatial and temporal spheres within which political practices are constantly being shaped and reshaped. Even without engendering immediate institutional transformations, traces of these protest events continue to influence the struggle over global values - and thus over the direction of politics. The repeated presence of protest actions around the world guarantees that a number of key issues, from environmental protection to minimal labour standards, remain discussed in the public sphere.
Indeed, even before Seattle, O'Brien and his collaborators had already concluded that the interaction between social movements and multilateral economic institutions has transformed the nature of global economic governance. The authors label this transformation "complex multilateralism" in order to recognise that actors other than states now can and do express the public interest and shape issues of governance. Consider, for instance, how global networks of communication have enabled indigenous peoples in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to engage in forms of activism that ensured them an audience beyond their immediate surroundings.
Who decides about the desirable course of action, the direction of protest, the means that are appropriate and the ends that are desirable? How is one to maintain a level of solidarity or common interest in a vast array of diverging and competing interests? As mentioned at various points in this essay, the people that participated in the protest actions in Prague and other cities represented a great variety of different and at times conflicting interests and constituencies, from steelworkers to feminist and environmentalists.
They ranged from radical anarchists to moderate reformers. It is hardly surprising, then, that not all forms of protest receive the same level of media attention. There is a significant different between coverage of activism in developed and developing countries. Countless IMF-sponsored structural adjustment program have triggered sustained protest reactions by the local populace. These protests have increased in recent years.
The Battle for Seattle, by contrast, was located at the heart of the industrialised world, and thus immediately turned into a global media spectacle. Twenty million Indian workers on strike or 80, Argentineans descending into the streets generate far less global attention than two dozen protesters in Davos, Melbourne or Gothenburg.
Southern social movements clearly operate not only in a different local environment, but also according to very different rules of power. About the struggle for voice and representation? Here too, one could go on debating the provenance and motivations of the protestors. They certainly were not all rich and not all Westerners.
But in most protest actions the Third World was clearly underrepresented. Significant political implications result. Some go as far as arguing that the new wave of global activism runs the risk of reproducing the very same neo-liberal practices of exclusion it so strongly opposes. Many developing countries face the challenge to promote basic economic growth and may not be able afford the same environmental standards that are now established in the developed world. Indeed, some representatives of the Third World in Seattle argued that the US government was able to use the protest as a convenient pretext to break off discussions on trade issues, for a successful WTO negotiation round could have brought certain benefits to the developing world and undermined the traditional support base of the Democratic Party.
Indeed, representation is, as Ankersmit stresses, at the hart of politics.