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Book Review: Globalization A Critical introduction

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Book Review: Globalization A Critical introduction
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    Fakultät für Sozialwissenschaften und Philosophie Global and European Studies Institute International Studies. Winter Semester Director: Prof. Ulf Engel Tutor: Claudia Baumann Book Review: Globalization A Critical introduction Cesar Briceño Ludwigstraße 15 04315 Leipzig cesarebriat@gmail.com Master “Global Studies”  First year Matriculation number: 3757660 Leipzig, 28.Februar   1 Book review Concerning the Author’s biography, the staff section of the University of Warwick says: Jan Aart Scholte is Professor in PAIS and Professorial Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR) at the University of Warwick. His main research covers globalisation, global governance, civil society in global politics, global democracy, and methodologies for global studies 1 . Scholte is active in several different centers for the study of Globalization and international studies. He is an invite professor in Cornell University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Linköping University, the London School of Economics, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, and Moscow State University. The book Globalization, A critical introduction had a first edition in the beginning of the 2000’, with a second edition “   systematically revised and updated new edition takes a broader perspective giving increased coverage of other dimensions of globalization” 2 . The book is structured in three sections, containing each four chapter, for a total of twelve chapters in approximately four hundred pages excluding the prefaces of the first and second edition, tables, charts and bibliography. The first part is consecrated to the evaluation of the different frameworks of analysis. In this part, the author dissertates on the current (and previous) debates on the employment of the term Globalization . His main focus is to give a historical and brief review of how this definition has been adopted, to which extent is it important to limit it and which are the different ambits where the term has been adopted and for which purposes. To Scholte, Globalization has gained in the political national and international scales, civil society and public opinion a value “[…] Steeped into oversimplification, exaggeration and wishful thinking. 3 ”By this, the author points out the necessity to attribute to this word the qualities and merits of what it is, but as well what the word is not. In this sense, he estimates that Globalization has been commonly interchanged with some other well accepted concepts (already vast  per se),  these are: Internationalization, Liberalization, Universalization and westernalization 4 . Therefore, there exist common notions that consider ‘global’ to be a synonym of a cross -boarded, economic-open, world-widely and americanized spread phenomenon 5 . Scholte does refer to the fact that Globalization  is an ambiguous word that concerns two large groups of scholars; the globalists who consider globalization to be one (not to say the most) important events in the history of humankind, and the skeptics that consider it a trend definition, which is empty in itself and based on mere 1  http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/people/scholte/ (last seen on 16.02.2015) 2  Abstract from the editorial Palgrave McMillan. In http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/globalization-jan-aart-scholte/?K=9780333977026 (last seen on 16.02.2015) 3  Scholte, Jan. (2005: 37) 4  Ibid. 3 (38-29). 5  Ibid 4.   2 rhetoric arguments. However, it is important to point out that the author establishes clear subdivisions on each group, for example within the globalists there are those who consider globalization as a long-data process that has existed since at least over five hundred years, and those who claim it to be the summit and deterministic goal of world’s society, economy and politics 6 . That said Scholte clearly exposes that finding a consensus for measuring common global relations is extremely difficult, and he attributes it mainly to the lack of empirical data collected. The Author exposes a comparison between different examples of theories that seek to offer an explanation to the question: what drives globalization. In his words, Scholte sets a scenario where two possible tends seek to clarify this question, the first is the idealist-materialist optic (motivated by liberalism, political realism, Marxism and social ecology) and the structuralist perspective. However, in the book Scholte seems to have chosen a middle perspective to explain his theories, out from the objectivist-subjectivist spectrum and the supposition that “knowledge and other aspects of reality form a duality of reciprocal causation” 7 . Scholte seems to raise awareness of the constant changes on various concepts that the phenomenon of Globalization  pretends to enclose. In this sense, topics such as production, governance, identity issues (result from social bonds) and structures of knowledge production and distribution are discussed to consider the real extent and implications that a phenomenon such as the globalization one could have an influence on. The author appears to relativize the expectations from different analyst, who seem to seek a newer definition to replace the labels of post-modernity and post-capitalist presumptions used until thirty years ago, when criticizing a systemic transformation approach. Scholte also estimates that issues such as security and democracy need to be read on a national and regional perspective, as a natural evolution of development rather than an immediate association to the international influence of the globalized world in the small scale. To conclude with his first section, Scholte enounces possible measures to be adopted by what he considers are the leading four distinctive groups regarding the Globalization process. Consequently, we find the neoliberals, leaned to let the market-led world be oriented by itself and rejectionist who consider the world should be taken to the pre-globalization status quo 8 . The reformists, who claim an intervention on the course of Globalization by the creation of policies and international laws ad hoc, and at last the transformists inclined to a futuristic, completely homogenized society and market, different from the two first more conservative perspectives. I personally find the second section of Scholte’s book, to be revealing of one of the key as sets of his theory, also what makes his work different from the precedent literature, and it is his focus on the notion of supraterritoriality as one of Globalization’s most characteristic features. He defines it himself as an utter conception of space, in his words: 6  Ibid. 3 (46-47) 7  Ibid. 3 (50) 8  Ibid. 3 (68-70)   3 The term globality resonates of spatiality. It says something about the arena and the place of human action and experience: the where of social life. In particular, globality identifies the planet  –   the earth as a whole  –   as a field of social relations in its own right 9  Nevertheless, Scholte seems to prefer to make a clear distinction between what he consider to be transplanetary relations, which are not new, just a process that has been identified in a short-term lapse of time. What gives the impression to be rather new on his approach, is the meaning the world supraterritoriality  gains for the author, in this regard, supraterritorial relations would make reference to social, economic or politic interconnections that transcend territorial geography (sic 9). An eventual consequence of adopting this notion could mean the   deterritorialization  of social spaces, briefly introduced by authors like Appadurai 10 , but definitely a trend view that would be also mobilized by other scholars, such as Rumford 11 or Della Porta and Tarrow when referring to the globalization of social movements 12 . For Scholte, however, there are different emphases contained inside the notions of Global, world, international and transnational that should not be confused. These previous appreciations are based, according to the author, on the complex understanding that before the mise-en-scène  of the term Global , the definition of world and international had already adopted a “ multiple spatial dimensions in addition to the global 13 ”, furthermore:  World social relations today have regional, country, local, household and other geographical aspects alongside the transplanetary facets. Thus ‘world’ is the social -ge ographical whole, while ‘global’ is only one of its spatial qualities. (sic. 3) Scholte, on the other hand, exposes how globalization has been manifested in our contemporary history by listing and explaining a series of multinational companies, international organizations, homogenization  processes and their implication with the shaping of today’s world. In other words, and coming back to the notion of space, globalization to Scholte acquires a constructed methodological sense of the “respatialization of so cial life” 14 , this is the critical understanding that all the phenomenon that used to take place in more national (sometimes international spheres) have been opened in a way that lacks of a proper, satisfactory classification. The author approaches briefly how incipient all the changes regarding telecommunications, law, military, organizations, money and finance, markets and even the levels of consciousness have been incipiently increased from the 19 th  century onward with an exacerbation climax in the second half of the 20 th  century. To one point, the reader can be led to think that Scholte’s intention is to persuade his audience that Globalization is, as a matter of fact, not a phenomenon, but rather a combination of notions and theories seeking 9  Ibid 3 (98) 10  Appadurai, Arjun. (2000 :7) 11  Rumford, Chris. (2006: 156-158) 12  Della Porta, Donatella and Tarrow, Sidney. (2005:5,11) 13  Ibid 3. 105 14  Ibid 3. 115, 118.   4 desperately an explanation to the world’s large acceleration on pretty much everything that can be accounted for. Notwithstanding, after discussing the diverse perspective and explanations for what in the conventional wisdom is thought to be Globalization, the author seems to accept the fact that this singularity of human history essentially exists. In Scholte’s own words “t he contemporary rapid growth of transplanetary and supraterritorial social connections has resulted partly from economic conditions ” 15 , which is a cause of the force of production in Globalization. According to Scholte, one of most Globalization’s most particular characteristics is the switch from a capitalist system to a Hypercapitalist one, e xplained by “ the growth of transplanetary social spaces has helped to increase surplus accumulation in areas such as primary production and heavy industr y” 16 . The author mobilize this premise to explain why capitalism structure has changed, inducing as a consequence the emergence of new forms of trade (i.e. off-shore trade, multinational/global companies, among others). I will allow myself to point out a clear contradiction on the author’s purpose, who claims several times that his intention is to remain as a far as possible from a Marxist analysis, despite the fact that he continues to bring up Marxist theoretical keys to interpret Globalization.   I find however interesting how Scholte approaches Governance from a ‘Global’ perspective. In this regard, I consider Scholter to be in line with some much recent publications, like is the case of Sorensen when defining the different forms of governance result from the interactions of the market and democracy 17 . This might also apply for his estimations on the privatization of governance, and I shall allow myself to compare it with both sides of the bench as far this notion is concerned. Let us then examine the first one, strongly marked by empirical  journalistic demonstration of private governance consequences by Naomi Klein 18 , and then the apologetic thesis, praising the benefits of letting the market fill the national (or supranational) State-level lacks 19 , by Norberg. Scholte picks up his previous work on ‘Global civil society 20 ’  to illustrate how the world is facing a transnational hybridization, despite the fact of the persistency of national identities, however he considers that these last will be soon replaced by non-national identities. During the course of the book, Scholter comes back to the same concepts and indicators (inequality, governance, security, market, knowledge, ontology, religion, peace, etc.) to explain how Globalization has an action-reaction active role on each, clarifying the significances for every case and also the different variants they could have when using a vast spectrum of approaches to analyze Global issues. However, he keeps a very critical speech on the most sensible matters 21  to conclude by saying that further stages of globalization need to be defined 15  Ibid 3. 174 16  Ibid 3. 206 17  Sorensen, Georg. (2006:346) 18  Klein, Naomi. (2006) 19  Norberg, Johan. (2003:17) 20  Scholte, Jan. (1999) 21  Such as gender inequalities, democratic crisis, terrorism, world pandemics, mass communication etc.
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