Archive for June, 2016
If you prefer your globalization notes in a handy, easily-reproduced, pdf format (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then this handy, easily-reproduced, pdf-format booklet is probably just what you’ve been searching for (although it has, of course, been here all along, just in a not-very-handy, difficult to reproduce, blog format).
As with their political counterpart, we need to keep in mind that cultural interrelationships are frequently related to economic relationships and that these, in turn, inform cultural connections and relationships. This is particularly pertinent when we talk about culture industries like television, film and print, where reference is often made to the cultural hegemony (or “leadership”) of Western society and the USA in particular.
Such hegemony, it’s often argued, goes hand-in-glove with the “global dominance” of the English language as a ‘common cultural language’, although it’s perhaps pertinent to note what we might term a “reflexive relationship” (where one influences the other) between the hegemony of culture industries and the hegemonic status of English; that is, it’s difficult to disentangle one from the other. Does the English language dominate because of the hegemony of culture industries or does the hegemony of these industries necessitate consumers developing an understanding of English in order to consume such products?
Conventionally, political relationships operate between nation states in three general areas:
- Trade: The development of transnational trading blocs (in North/South America, Asia and Europe, for example) involves some measure of political interrelationship. In the case of Europe, economic interrelationships have developed alongside a range of political interrelationships – the European Union has an elected parliament, bureaucratic structure and single European currency, although member countries may opt out of specific parts of political agreements (the UK, for example, is not currently part of the single European currency).
On a global level, world trade agreements relating to the movement of goods, access to markets and the like provide some form of regulatory framework for economic activity. In some instances, these agreements override national law (as in the case of the European Union, for example, and the provision for the free movement of labour across national boundaries).
- International law: Political relationships between societies also exist at the legal level, not just in terms of trade agreements (which can be legally enforced and tested), but also in terms of areas like extradition treaties, cross-border policing (in the European Union, for example), membership of the United Nations and the like.
- Military: How different countries relate to one another in military terms (through cooperation or antagonism, for example) also represents a political dimension to the interrelationship between societies. (more…)
The first dimension of globalisation we can outline and examine is the changing nature of economic relationships, based around the idea of trade; this involves the production, distribution and exchange of goods and services focused around manufacturing, financial instruments and, increasingly, knowledge industries.
In the context of globalisation, a key idea here is the concept of mobility, something that has two main dimensions:
a. capital mobility, whereby companies and investments move into and out of different countries as profitability and economic policy dictates.
b. labour mobility, where workers can move with relative freedom between nation states.
David Rosenhan’s “pseudopatient experiment” is a classic study for both sociologists and psychologists, that raises a range of interesting questions relating to areas like mental illness, labelling theory and ethics.
Rosenhan’s research was designed to discover if doctors could correctly diagnose mental illness. If they couldn’t, this would tell us something very important about the relationship between mental illness and labelling – that mental illness is not an objective category but a subjective condition; it is, in other words, whatever medical professionals claim it to be – a situation that has hugely-important ramifications for contemporary ideas about crime and deviance, for example.
As Sklair (1999) suggests, globalisation provides a context for understanding the relationship between societies in the contemporary world because it represents a process that both reflects and contributes to change – the idea that how nations relate to each other is different now compared to even the very recent past. In this respect, therefore, we need to understand what globalisation is – how it can be initially defined – before we can apply it to an understanding of changing economic, political and cultural relationships.
Although we can refer, in vague terms, to globalisation as ‘a process’, it’s much harder to pin down a definition that’s broadly recognised and accepted within the sociology of development. It is with good reason, therefore, that Rosamond and Booth (1995) refer to globalisation as a contested concept – one whose meaning is nebulous, fluid and hotly debated.
“Evaluation” is a key skill in A-level Sociology that scores lots of exam marks and while there are many different ways to evaluate ideas and arguments there are some useful generic concepts students should be encouraged to regularly (and repetitively) deploy in their evaluation armament from the start of their course – one such being the concept of “relative differentiation”.
It’s useful because it’s a concept that can be applied to a range of questions in ways that both allow students to show an awareness of “sociological problems” and encourage them to develop lines of evaluation that dig deeper into areas like sociological methodology where the Really Big Marks are to be found. (more…)