Modernism and After (Vis Com) Semester 2
Week 4: Globalization
DIY Homework (for Week 6).
George Ritzer (reading on Moodle) sees Globalization as being comprised of two
conflicting tendencies: the tendency to create something and the tendency to create
nothing. Ritzer ties the former to a process called Glocalization and the latter to his
own term Grobalization.
An example of Glocalization given by Ritzer is a farmers‟ market. A farmers‟ market
is determined by the interests of those present on a given day, and is highly variable.
“The farmers do not fit into a pre-set structure, although they may by custom, sell
particular things in particular spots. Which farmers participate, and what they offer for
sale, will vary greatly from one time to another. Most importantly, once the market
has ended for the day, whatever structure was created will be dismantled and then
recreated again somewhat differently the next market day.” (Ritzer 2003)
Here then, Ritzer, who doesn‟t believe that truly „Local‟ things remain in any
significant way, is trying to describe certain interactions between Global forces and
local interests that retain a certain amount of complexity and variability (hence using
the term Glocal to describe them). Another example that Ritzer offers of the Glocal
are the restaurants in Provence, France, which make unique types of food in that
region. Due to the foods complexity and the availability of specific ingredients, these
dishes are not made elsewhere.
In contrast to this tendency to produce something, i.e. variation and contrast,
Grobalization, argues Ritzer, tends to produce nothing. Here, contrasting examples
would be shopping malls – that apart from the peculiarity of shoppers look very
similar from London to Milan etc – and fast food restaurants. These types of forms
rely upon formulae that allow them to be quickly replicated and expanded. Ritzer
ties them to GROBalization because they relate to power and the assertion of big
companies and nations. Eager to grow, Grobalization often flattens complex cultural
differences in order to make things that are simple.
Thinking about these ideas do the following activities:
1. Write down a list that pairs specific Glocal things with their Grobalized
equivalents. I.e. Cameo Cinema vs. Odeon; Forrest Cafe vs. Costa; Folk
Music vs. Pop Music. Think carefully about how you might include examples
from your own particular discipline, say photography or illustration for
2. Now think about the advantages and disadvantages of either the Glocalized
or Grobalized forms and write them down.
3. Choose either Glocalization or Grobalization and using one of your specific
examples try to argue its case. Why is it better? What makes it more
interesting? What makes it practical? What impact does it have?
4. Finally, and keeping in mind this Semester‟s assessment, try to think about
the ways that visual practitioners might engage with some of the issues raised
by Glocalization and Grobalization. What type of forms might be synonymous
with either of these tendencies? How might they be challenged, advanced or
changed? What impact might these tendencies have upon your own