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The Shrinking World: Political Sociology Week 3
 

The Shrinking World: Political Sociology Week 3

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It is now commonly understood that we live in a ‘global’ world, one defined by the undeniable fact that societies since the late 20th century have become more interconnected due to the greater ...

It is now commonly understood that we live in a ‘global’ world, one defined by the undeniable fact that societies since the late 20th century have become more interconnected due to the greater deregulated flow of capital worldwide. Theorists of globalization, working from a variety of perspectives, have looked at globalization as an economic, a cultural, as well as a political and social phenomenon. The increased globality of capital has also affected the ways we live our lives with greater access to travel, knowledge about other environments and ever-similar patterns of cultural consumption from London to Lahore. A useful term to describe this is ‘glocalized identities’. These similarities also extend into growing inequality with effects in both the ‘first’ and the ‘developing’ world; e.g. when labour is outsourced from richer countries to poorer ones, workers at home suffer because they lose their jobs whilst those in poorer countries are often exploited by their employers in order to be able to sell cheaper goods in the rich North. A number of scholars have begun to theorise what most people call globalization from a non-western perspective that emphasises a decolonial approach informed by ‘border thinking’. Border thinking does not reject European modernity but incorporates elements – such as democracy – redefining them for their own indigenous practice (e.g. the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico). Looking at how, not only the West has informed the rest of the world, but how all knowledge, wealth and progress is an amalgamation of cultures, ideas, inventions, etc. from across the globe helps us to understand globalization to the fullest extent.

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  • There has been much focus in political sociology, economics and social and political theory over the last 15 years on the notion of globalization. We are said to live in a global era, determined by the ever-faster flow of information, capital, goods, and people around the planet.\n\nThere are many different facets to globalization and diffrent approaches taken to the debate.\n\nHowever, more recently a group of scholars mainly from Latin America, as well as India and Africa, have been challenging the dominance of ideas of globalization. Globalization should not be seen as something that we are currently witnessing - as a process through which we are living only in our postmodern age. Rather, the world was always global. The problem is that the tendency to see political, social and economic processes from a western/European perspective has led to this fact becoming obscured.\n\nThe global interconnectedness between people, ways of thinking, culture, economic relations, etc. which has been a fact since human beings began to travel has largely been hidden. What this means, according to some of the critics whose work we will be looking at today, is that we are generally only given a one-sided picture of how global processes work.\n\nThe suggestion is that instead of talking about globalization, which implies a current process, we should focus on what Anibal Quijano calls the ‘colonial power matrix’ which allows us to see how different parts of the globe are entwined in a variety of unequal power relations. This in turn allows us to see how globalization should not be reduced to capitalism alone, but should be understand in terms of multiple and overlapping systems of domination which are as much cultural as they are economic.\n\nTo fully make sense of this historically and for our times, we need to engage in what Gloria Anzaldua calls ‘critical border thinking’ - a reinterpretation of ideas associated with the West, such as democracy, for the struggles of indigenous/excluded/subaltern people for liberation from exploitation. \n\nLooking at processes that we call globalization from the point of view of insiders versus outsiders, those who benefit versus those who lose out, those who win versus those who lose, allows us both to see its unevenness and to realise that the core is always constituted by the periphery, or in other words that we cannot understand who we in the West are without understanding how we are always linked across space and time to others who seem very different to ourselves. \n\nWhat happens in the rich global North always has an impact on what happens in the poorer global South, but the opposite has historically also been true and continues to be so whether or not we realise it. \n
  • \n
  • Deterritoralization\n\nA growing range of social activities can take place regardless of location of the participants.\n\nScholte (1996) names ‘telecommunication, digital computers, audiovisual media, rocketry and the like.’\nWe could also add the internet most importantly today, but also the speed and availability of international travel making it possible for people to interact despite the distance between them. \n\nInterconnectedness\n\n(Different meaning to the one espoused by Bhambra to be explained later)\n\nThe interconnection between processes across locations means that distant events and decisions have an increasing impact on local life.\n\nThis is perhaps most important from a financial point of view where something called the ‘global economy’ which is not rooted in one particular centre affects almost every locality in the world.\n\nMany have pointed out the significance of global economic and political institutions such as the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in imposing the dictates of the global economy upon local markets. For example, because the World Trade Organisation placed a ban on the manufacture of generic retroviral treatments, many countries such as India and South Africa where these drugs were being produced were forced to adopt expensive brand name drugs leading directly to the deaths of AIDS patients in those countries. \n\nAs we shall see in our case study, the imposition of privatisation as a condition of loans to developing countries from the IMF has led to the privatisation of many key public goods such as education, health and even water.\n\nSpeed or velocity of social activity\n\nBeing able to link together and expand social activities across borders globally is based on the increased ease and speed of the movement of information, capital and goods. However, as has often been noted, while capital flows apparently effortlessly, the movement of people is restricted with only those from the rich North/West being allowed to travel freely while the rest of the world is policed and controlled at the borders. \n\nThis ease of speed of goods and capital explains the outsourcing of much manufacturing from countries in the rich North where labour is expensive to the East and South where it is cheap and where labour law is weak. Because it is relatively fast and cheap to transport goods across the world, it makes greater sense for a company to have its goods produced in one country, assembled in another and packaged in a third, for example. This often contributes directly to unemployment in the so-called ‘first-world’ leading some theorists (e.g. Michael Parenti) to talk about the ‘third-worldization’ of the first world.\n\nA long-term process\n\nMany agree that globalization is in fact a longer process than what was originally identified (as beginning in the 1970s). According to Giddens, modern history is replete with examples of globalization (e.g. imperialism). \n\nIndeed, for some theorists, what we call globalization is merely a type of neocolonialism whereby the West attempts to impose its culture, values and economic system upon the rest of the globe.\n\nHaving said this, theorists such as David Harvey point out that the processes of globalization have intensified in recent times because of the speed of developments and the depth of the changes brought about by technological innovations such as the internet and high-speed travel.\n\nMulti-pronged\n\nGlobalization is not a singlular phenomenon. It is not uniquely an economic process but should be understood as economic, political as well as social and cultural. Each aspect creates its own conflicts. For example, the increase in migration afforded by globalization creates tensions in the countries to which people migrate. \n\nPolitical globalization have caused some to ask whether or not the nation-state has become obsolete. They point to the existence of transnational political institutions like the EU or the World Bank, etc. which increasingly have a say over the possibilities for decision-making of national governments.\n\nIn response, those who are sceptical about the reach of political globalization point out that many of these organisations, although global in name, are still run by the same few powerful countries, such as those of the G8.\n\nThere are also fears that global governance is anti-democratic because it bypasses democratic accountability at the local level. So for example, the recent IMF bail-outs in Ireland and Greece don’t seem to be leaving ordinary people with a choice but to face austerity in order to repay the loans given to their countries by the IMF. However, ordinary citizens did not vote for the bail-out.\n\n
  • Deterritoralization\n\nA growing range of social activities can take place regardless of location of the participants.\n\nScholte (1996) names ‘telecommunication, digital computers, audiovisual media, rocketry and the like.’\nWe could also add the internet most importantly today, but also the speed and availability of international travel making it possible for people to interact despite the distance between them. \n\nInterconnectedness\n\n(Different meaning to the one espoused by Bhambra to be explained later)\n\nThe interconnection between processes across locations means that distant events and decisions have an increasing impact on local life.\n\nThis is perhaps most important from a financial point of view where something called the ‘global economy’ which is not rooted in one particular centre affects almost every locality in the world.\n\nMany have pointed out the significance of global economic and political institutions such as the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in imposing the dictates of the global economy upon local markets. For example, because the World Trade Organisation placed a ban on the manufacture of generic retroviral treatments, many countries such as India and South Africa where these drugs were being produced were forced to adopt expensive brand name drugs leading directly to the deaths of AIDS patients in those countries. \n\nAs we shall see in our case study, the imposition of privatisation as a condition of loans to developing countries from the IMF has led to the privatisation of many key public goods such as education, health and even water.\n\nSpeed or velocity of social activity\n\nBeing able to link together and expand social activities across borders globally is based on the increased ease and speed of the movement of information, capital and goods. However, as has often been noted, while capital flows apparently effortlessly, the movement of people is restricted with only those from the rich North/West being allowed to travel freely while the rest of the world is policed and controlled at the borders. \n\nThis ease of speed of goods and capital explains the outsourcing of much manufacturing from countries in the rich North where labour is expensive to the East and South where it is cheap and where labour law is weak. Because it is relatively fast and cheap to transport goods across the world, it makes greater sense for a company to have its goods produced in one country, assembled in another and packaged in a third, for example. This often contributes directly to unemployment in the so-called ‘first-world’ leading some theorists (e.g. Michael Parenti) to talk about the ‘third-worldization’ of the first world.\n\nA long-term process\n\nMany agree that globalization is in fact a longer process than what was originally identified (as beginning in the 1970s). According to Giddens, modern history is replete with examples of globalization (e.g. imperialism). \n\nIndeed, for some theorists, what we call globalization is merely a type of neocolonialism whereby the West attempts to impose its culture, values and economic system upon the rest of the globe.\n\nHaving said this, theorists such as David Harvey point out that the processes of globalization have intensified in recent times because of the speed of developments and the depth of the changes brought about by technological innovations such as the internet and high-speed travel.\n\nMulti-pronged\n\nGlobalization is not a singlular phenomenon. It is not uniquely an economic process but should be understood as economic, political as well as social and cultural. Each aspect creates its own conflicts. For example, the increase in migration afforded by globalization creates tensions in the countries to which people migrate. \n\nPolitical globalization have caused some to ask whether or not the nation-state has become obsolete. They point to the existence of transnational political institutions like the EU or the World Bank, etc. which increasingly have a say over the possibilities for decision-making of national governments.\n\nIn response, those who are sceptical about the reach of political globalization point out that many of these organisations, although global in name, are still run by the same few powerful countries, such as those of the G8.\n\nThere are also fears that global governance is anti-democratic because it bypasses democratic accountability at the local level. So for example, the recent IMF bail-outs in Ireland and Greece don’t seem to be leaving ordinary people with a choice but to face austerity in order to repay the loans given to their countries by the IMF. However, ordinary citizens did not vote for the bail-out.\n\n
  • Deterritoralization\n\nA growing range of social activities can take place regardless of location of the participants.\n\nScholte (1996) names ‘telecommunication, digital computers, audiovisual media, rocketry and the like.’\nWe could also add the internet most importantly today, but also the speed and availability of international travel making it possible for people to interact despite the distance between them. \n\nInterconnectedness\n\n(Different meaning to the one espoused by Bhambra to be explained later)\n\nThe interconnection between processes across locations means that distant events and decisions have an increasing impact on local life.\n\nThis is perhaps most important from a financial point of view where something called the ‘global economy’ which is not rooted in one particular centre affects almost every locality in the world.\n\nMany have pointed out the significance of global economic and political institutions such as the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in imposing the dictates of the global economy upon local markets. For example, because the World Trade Organisation placed a ban on the manufacture of generic retroviral treatments, many countries such as India and South Africa where these drugs were being produced were forced to adopt expensive brand name drugs leading directly to the deaths of AIDS patients in those countries. \n\nAs we shall see in our case study, the imposition of privatisation as a condition of loans to developing countries from the IMF has led to the privatisation of many key public goods such as education, health and even water.\n\nSpeed or velocity of social activity\n\nBeing able to link together and expand social activities across borders globally is based on the increased ease and speed of the movement of information, capital and goods. However, as has often been noted, while capital flows apparently effortlessly, the movement of people is restricted with only those from the rich North/West being allowed to travel freely while the rest of the world is policed and controlled at the borders. \n\nThis ease of speed of goods and capital explains the outsourcing of much manufacturing from countries in the rich North where labour is expensive to the East and South where it is cheap and where labour law is weak. Because it is relatively fast and cheap to transport goods across the world, it makes greater sense for a company to have its goods produced in one country, assembled in another and packaged in a third, for example. This often contributes directly to unemployment in the so-called ‘first-world’ leading some theorists (e.g. Michael Parenti) to talk about the ‘third-worldization’ of the first world.\n\nA long-term process\n\nMany agree that globalization is in fact a longer process than what was originally identified (as beginning in the 1970s). According to Giddens, modern history is replete with examples of globalization (e.g. imperialism). \n\nIndeed, for some theorists, what we call globalization is merely a type of neocolonialism whereby the West attempts to impose its culture, values and economic system upon the rest of the globe.\n\nHaving said this, theorists such as David Harvey point out that the processes of globalization have intensified in recent times because of the speed of developments and the depth of the changes brought about by technological innovations such as the internet and high-speed travel.\n\nMulti-pronged\n\nGlobalization is not a singlular phenomenon. It is not uniquely an economic process but should be understood as economic, political as well as social and cultural. Each aspect creates its own conflicts. For example, the increase in migration afforded by globalization creates tensions in the countries to which people migrate. \n\nPolitical globalization have caused some to ask whether or not the nation-state has become obsolete. They point to the existence of transnational political institutions like the EU or the World Bank, etc. which increasingly have a say over the possibilities for decision-making of national governments.\n\nIn response, those who are sceptical about the reach of political globalization point out that many of these organisations, although global in name, are still run by the same few powerful countries, such as those of the G8.\n\nThere are also fears that global governance is anti-democratic because it bypasses democratic accountability at the local level. So for example, the recent IMF bail-outs in Ireland and Greece don’t seem to be leaving ordinary people with a choice but to face austerity in order to repay the loans given to their countries by the IMF. However, ordinary citizens did not vote for the bail-out.\n\n
  • Deterritoralization\n\nA growing range of social activities can take place regardless of location of the participants.\n\nScholte (1996) names ‘telecommunication, digital computers, audiovisual media, rocketry and the like.’\nWe could also add the internet most importantly today, but also the speed and availability of international travel making it possible for people to interact despite the distance between them. \n\nInterconnectedness\n\n(Different meaning to the one espoused by Bhambra to be explained later)\n\nThe interconnection between processes across locations means that distant events and decisions have an increasing impact on local life.\n\nThis is perhaps most important from a financial point of view where something called the ‘global economy’ which is not rooted in one particular centre affects almost every locality in the world.\n\nMany have pointed out the significance of global economic and political institutions such as the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in imposing the dictates of the global economy upon local markets. For example, because the World Trade Organisation placed a ban on the manufacture of generic retroviral treatments, many countries such as India and South Africa where these drugs were being produced were forced to adopt expensive brand name drugs leading directly to the deaths of AIDS patients in those countries. \n\nAs we shall see in our case study, the imposition of privatisation as a condition of loans to developing countries from the IMF has led to the privatisation of many key public goods such as education, health and even water.\n\nSpeed or velocity of social activity\n\nBeing able to link together and expand social activities across borders globally is based on the increased ease and speed of the movement of information, capital and goods. However, as has often been noted, while capital flows apparently effortlessly, the movement of people is restricted with only those from the rich North/West being allowed to travel freely while the rest of the world is policed and controlled at the borders. \n\nThis ease of speed of goods and capital explains the outsourcing of much manufacturing from countries in the rich North where labour is expensive to the East and South where it is cheap and where labour law is weak. Because it is relatively fast and cheap to transport goods across the world, it makes greater sense for a company to have its goods produced in one country, assembled in another and packaged in a third, for example. This often contributes directly to unemployment in the so-called ‘first-world’ leading some theorists (e.g. Michael Parenti) to talk about the ‘third-worldization’ of the first world.\n\nA long-term process\n\nMany agree that globalization is in fact a longer process than what was originally identified (as beginning in the 1970s). According to Giddens, modern history is replete with examples of globalization (e.g. imperialism). \n\nIndeed, for some theorists, what we call globalization is merely a type of neocolonialism whereby the West attempts to impose its culture, values and economic system upon the rest of the globe.\n\nHaving said this, theorists such as David Harvey point out that the processes of globalization have intensified in recent times because of the speed of developments and the depth of the changes brought about by technological innovations such as the internet and high-speed travel.\n\nMulti-pronged\n\nGlobalization is not a singlular phenomenon. It is not uniquely an economic process but should be understood as economic, political as well as social and cultural. Each aspect creates its own conflicts. For example, the increase in migration afforded by globalization creates tensions in the countries to which people migrate. \n\nPolitical globalization have caused some to ask whether or not the nation-state has become obsolete. They point to the existence of transnational political institutions like the EU or the World Bank, etc. which increasingly have a say over the possibilities for decision-making of national governments.\n\nIn response, those who are sceptical about the reach of political globalization point out that many of these organisations, although global in name, are still run by the same few powerful countries, such as those of the G8.\n\nThere are also fears that global governance is anti-democratic because it bypasses democratic accountability at the local level. So for example, the recent IMF bail-outs in Ireland and Greece don’t seem to be leaving ordinary people with a choice but to face austerity in order to repay the loans given to their countries by the IMF. However, ordinary citizens did not vote for the bail-out.\n\n
  • Deterritoralization\n\nA growing range of social activities can take place regardless of location of the participants.\n\nScholte (1996) names ‘telecommunication, digital computers, audiovisual media, rocketry and the like.’\nWe could also add the internet most importantly today, but also the speed and availability of international travel making it possible for people to interact despite the distance between them. \n\nInterconnectedness\n\n(Different meaning to the one espoused by Bhambra to be explained later)\n\nThe interconnection between processes across locations means that distant events and decisions have an increasing impact on local life.\n\nThis is perhaps most important from a financial point of view where something called the ‘global economy’ which is not rooted in one particular centre affects almost every locality in the world.\n\nMany have pointed out the significance of global economic and political institutions such as the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in imposing the dictates of the global economy upon local markets. For example, because the World Trade Organisation placed a ban on the manufacture of generic retroviral treatments, many countries such as India and South Africa where these drugs were being produced were forced to adopt expensive brand name drugs leading directly to the deaths of AIDS patients in those countries. \n\nAs we shall see in our case study, the imposition of privatisation as a condition of loans to developing countries from the IMF has led to the privatisation of many key public goods such as education, health and even water.\n\nSpeed or velocity of social activity\n\nBeing able to link together and expand social activities across borders globally is based on the increased ease and speed of the movement of information, capital and goods. However, as has often been noted, while capital flows apparently effortlessly, the movement of people is restricted with only those from the rich North/West being allowed to travel freely while the rest of the world is policed and controlled at the borders. \n\nThis ease of speed of goods and capital explains the outsourcing of much manufacturing from countries in the rich North where labour is expensive to the East and South where it is cheap and where labour law is weak. Because it is relatively fast and cheap to transport goods across the world, it makes greater sense for a company to have its goods produced in one country, assembled in another and packaged in a third, for example. This often contributes directly to unemployment in the so-called ‘first-world’ leading some theorists (e.g. Michael Parenti) to talk about the ‘third-worldization’ of the first world.\n\nA long-term process\n\nMany agree that globalization is in fact a longer process than what was originally identified (as beginning in the 1970s). According to Giddens, modern history is replete with examples of globalization (e.g. imperialism). \n\nIndeed, for some theorists, what we call globalization is merely a type of neocolonialism whereby the West attempts to impose its culture, values and economic system upon the rest of the globe.\n\nHaving said this, theorists such as David Harvey point out that the processes of globalization have intensified in recent times because of the speed of developments and the depth of the changes brought about by technological innovations such as the internet and high-speed travel.\n\nMulti-pronged\n\nGlobalization is not a singlular phenomenon. It is not uniquely an economic process but should be understood as economic, political as well as social and cultural. Each aspect creates its own conflicts. For example, the increase in migration afforded by globalization creates tensions in the countries to which people migrate. \n\nPolitical globalization have caused some to ask whether or not the nation-state has become obsolete. They point to the existence of transnational political institutions like the EU or the World Bank, etc. which increasingly have a say over the possibilities for decision-making of national governments.\n\nIn response, those who are sceptical about the reach of political globalization point out that many of these organisations, although global in name, are still run by the same few powerful countries, such as those of the G8.\n\nThere are also fears that global governance is anti-democratic because it bypasses democratic accountability at the local level. So for example, the recent IMF bail-outs in Ireland and Greece don’t seem to be leaving ordinary people with a choice but to face austerity in order to repay the loans given to their countries by the IMF. However, ordinary citizens did not vote for the bail-out.\n\n
  • David Held has (classically) claimed that approaches to globalization can be divided into the ‘globalists’ and the ‘sceptics’. \n\nGlobalists see the world as more and more interlinked through processes of cultural and economic globalization. This does not mean that they necessary see all of these phenomena as positive.\n\nSceptics include both realists and Marxists.\nRealists do not see an erosion of nation-state power.\nMarxists see globalization as an extension of western imperialism.\n\nHowever, this rather simplistic division tends to obscure some of the social consequences of globalization which is what political sociologists should arguably be more concerned with.\n\nThree writers - Zygmunt Bauman, Arjun Appadurai and Naomi Klein - question the social impacts of globalization, in particular in terms of how it has affected levels of equality across the world.\n\nLets look briefly at their main ideas in turn.\n \n\n
  • In his 1998 article, ‘On Glocalization’, Zygmunt Bauman argues, following Kenneth Jowitt, that globalization can be described as the ‘new world disorder’.\n\nIn globalised times, no one seems to be in control, there is no one centre of power, the world has become a man-made wilderness. \n\nBauman believes that the state has been weakened by the growth and spread of economic globalization. Global finance, trade and the information industry need a weak state in order to ensure their freedom of movement. Under these conditions, the role of international institutions (EU, IMF, World Bank, etc.) has been to force states to give up their control over economics so as to free up the free movement of capital. \n\nBauman follows Roland Robertson’s suggestion that we should speak of glocalization rather than globalization. This describes the way in which global processes are translated for a local context. Globalization is not about cultural uniformity, but the increasing choice from a variety of possibilities available to us through the increase in knowledge about the world.\n\nHowever, not everyone benefits from this. In fact, while globalization has allowed the rich to make more money more quickly, two-thirds of the world has actually lost out due to globalization.\n\nThose who benefit from globalization live in time rather than space. They are not constrained by their geographical location because their wealth allows them to move freely.\n\nIn contrast, those who lose out are stuck in space. As Bauman puts it, ‘in their time, nothing ever happens’ because they do not have the ability to move as they please. \n\nSo globalization and localization should be seen as two sides of the same coin.\n\nBauman refers to the first (rich, global) group as tourists and the second (poor, local) group as vagabonds.\n\nTourists become wanderers because they want to. It doesn’t matter to them if they have no fixed home because their wealth allows them to enjoy all that is good about the world and permits them to feel at home anywhere. This might apply to bankers, international business-people, ‘ex-pats’, some international students...\n\nBut, not all wanderers move out of choice. They move because they have to. This could apply to migrant workers, many of whom migrate within their own countries (e.g. in China) because multinational companies have set up industrial centres in particular regions. Because work is scarce in their home towns/villages, they are forced to migrate.\n\nBauman refers to this group as vagabonds. “The vagabonds are the waste of the world which has dedicated itself to tourist services” (Bauman 1998: 47).\n\n[Example of Goa Tribal women.]\n\n
  • In his book Fear of Small Numbers, Appadurai departs from the idea that what he calls a ‘national ethnos’ (pure national culture) is a dangerous notion. \n\nBut he says that understanding the inherent danger of this idea does not explain why some nations more than others descend into inter-ethnic violence, civil war, etc. A degree of ‘social uncertainty’ is necessary to make this happen. Social uncertainty increases under globalization because the degree of movement by people leads to doubts of who ‘we’ are and who ‘they’ are. This is clearly the problem expressed by far-right groups like the BNP who object to multiculturalism and immigration because the can no longer identify a clear national ‘we’.\n\nAppadurai argues that where the lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’ have become blurred, globalization exacerbates the problem. For the same kinds of reasons that Bauman pointed out, the uncertainties brought about by the blurring of identities under globalisation leads to a ‘fear of small numbers’ whereby majority groups feel threatened and lash out at minorities living among them.\n\nAppadurai pays special attention to violence against Muslims in India which frequently erupts. He documents the rise of the Hindutva (Hindu right) movement in India, explaining its popularity as being due to the popular belief that Muslims in India have a stronger allegiance to the greater Muslim world/Pakistan than to the Indian nation. \n\nThis ideology is used by Hinduist elites to mobilise among poor, disenfranchised Hindus many of them facing economic pressures as a result of globalisation which has led to increased internal migration and resulting pressure on employment, housing, and quality of life.\n
  • In her 2002 book, Fences and Windows, Naomi Klein notes that despite the discourse about freedom of movement which is said to define globalisation, the global order fences in a greater and greater number of people, denying them opportunity.\n\nFences are used both to protect the rich and keep out the poor.\n\nShe notes the rise of gated communities, where rich people are protected by security fences, guards and sophisticated alarms from the majority of people living around them.\n\nOn the other side, there is a rise in detention centres for asylum seekers across the world - prisons largely run by private companies paid for by nations desperate to keep unwanted migrants hidden from society.\n\nSimilarly, workers in the Philippines are often kept in caged factories and made to work under the watch of guards with machines guns and watchtowers. The existence of such factories allows us to shop for less as our goods are produced under slave-labour like conditions.\n\nWhen those of us who benefit from privilege look out of our windows, we rarely see these fences which are erected out of view to give the impression of greater freedom under globalisation. However, as Klein notes, this freedom comes at a cost.\n\n\n
  • While, as we have seen, contemporary social theory admits the interconnected nature of globalization, critics of these more mainstream approaches argue against seeing this as a new phenomenon.\n\n1. According to Gurminder Bhambra, the problem with most globalization theory is that it assumes that previously separate entities, processes, etc. are becoming connected due to globalizing processes. However, she argues, “there are no entities that are not hybrid, that are not always and already hybrid.”\n\nEverything has already in some way been influenced by something else. For example, while we talk about the importance of the Industrial Revolution in facilitating the growth of capitalism and locate the milling industry in places like Manchester, we do not always remember that cotton milling were only made possible because cotton was brought from India where it was grown. In other words, the industrial revolution and the growth of capitalism was only made possible through the connection between India and Europe.\n\n2. Bhambra argues that we speak of the world becoming global rather than already being global. And when we speak of this process of becoming, we generally mean the impact of Europe or the West on the rest of the world.\n\nSo globalisation is seen as a synonym for westernisation which is in itself equated with modernisation. The only way in which it is possible to see the world from this perspective is to essentially silence and make invisible other non-western experience.\n\n3. Instead of seeing the global as an extension of western modernity, we should focus, according to Bhambra, on the interconnectedness of the world, or the ‘common world’. \n\nBhambra explains that European social theory has explained the evolution of the modern world in terms of a series of separate processes taking place independently in different parts of the world. Therefore, capitalism for example is seen as a western process that is then extended to the rest of the world through colonialism firstly, and globalization more recently.\n\nHowever, to see things from this perspective would be to ignore the example of the cotton mills I gave before. Globalization should be seen as a series of ‘conjunctions and connected and entangled histories’. There are many different roots of the world as we know it today.\n\nTherefore, it is simplistic to reduce it to the extension of European culture, politics, economics, etc. to the rest of the world as if (a) the rest of the world was a blank slate before it was confronted with Europeans, and (b) no ideas, inventions, philosophies, systems of rule, etc. pre-existed European hegemony nor failed to influence European thought. \n\n\n
  • The decolonial project mainly originates among Latin American scholars. \n\nIt has been defined by one of its premier thinkers, Walter Mignolo, as being “akin to de-Westernization... De-Westernization is neither left nor right: it questions Occidentalism, racism, a totalitarian and unilateral globality and an imperialist epistemology. The difference is that de-coloniality frontally questions the capitalist economy, whereas de-Westernization only questions who controls capitalism - the West or emerging economies.”\n\nScholars working from a decolonial approach are committed to what they call the decolonizing of knowledge. If we decolonize knowledge we cannot continue to see globalization as westernization because we would have to privilege the work of historical and contemporary thinkers from the Global South.\n\nGrosfoguel points out that doing this does not mean becoming inward looking, anti-European or fundamentalist. On the contrary, a decolonial approach would be based in a truly universal outlook which looks, as Bhambra says, at how ideas are always arrived at from a variety of sources - there is no one truth out there, but many truths.\n\nGrosfoguel challenges us to look at the world from the perspective of a poor Latin American woman, a process which would reveal the organisation of power globally in terms of what Anibal Quijano calls the ‘colonial power matrix’.\n\n\n
  • For Grosfoguel, the global colonial power matrix should be seen as a series of entangled (interlinked) heterogeneous global hierarchies.\n\nIn other words, globalisation is not just about the effects of a globalised economy upon people around the world, but it affects us across a number of different cross-cutting domains.\n\nAccording to Grosfoguel, we should speak of the ‘coloniality of power’ rather than globalised power. Coloniality means the persistence of colonial logics after the end of colonialism. \n\nThe lingering colonial mentality on a world scale explains why global capital is based upon the exploitation of poor workers in the Global South who are still considered racially/ethnically inferior to those in the richer North. This also explains the exploitation of migrant workers in the West/North. \n\nthis also happens at the level of states, with nations that are considered peripheral (e.g. non powerful/western) being forced to live under a regime imposed on them by the IMF, World Bank, etc.\n\n“Peripheral zones remain in a colonial situation even though they are no longer under colonial administration.”\n\nInterestingly, the same is now happening to peripheral zones within Europe as can be seen in Greece. \n
  • Critical Border thinking, a concept often attributed to Chicana poet and feminist Gloria Anzaldua, is based on the understanding that European culture and thought has been imposed upon the whole world not only through colonialism in the past but through the persistence of western models of ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’, etc.\n\nEven decolonised nation-states accept a western ethos by reproducing the nation - which is a European invention - upon populations that did not necessarily want to live within these artificially created territorial units.\n\nCritical border thinking rejects both Eurocentrism and the fundamentalist retreat into anti-western third world identities.\n\nTherefore, things like citizenship, democracy, human rights, humanity and economic relations are disconnected from their presumed origin in westerns institutions/ideologies, and redefined to make sense in non-western contexts.\n\nGrosfoguel gives the examples of the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico. The Zapatistas are not anti-modern. They accept democracy but redefine it for a local indigenous standpoint.\n\nThe Zapatistas use slogans such as ‘commanding while obeying’ to convey how democracy should be both led by people themselves as well as in respect for elected leaders.\n\nGender\nFundamentally, Anzaldua’s work also introduces a particular focus on gender as a further power divide. It is not enough to understand global inequalities as dividing between the rich North and the poor South. But, gender divides also reproduce these inequalities within and across all societies. \n\nPart of the decolonising project, according to Arturo Escobar, is to decolonise these uneven power relations between men and women.\n\nBorder thinking then, challenges us to go beyond simple divisions into north and south, rich and poor, us and them, citizen and foreigner, men and woman, straight and queer, etc. The challenge - like for an interconnected understanding of globalisation - is how we contain all of these elements in ourselves and, using this, to overcome (at least in theory) the resultant inequality. \n\n\n
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The Shrinking World: Political Sociology Week 3 The Shrinking World: Political Sociology Week 3 Presentation Transcript