Posts Tagged ‘globalisation’
Today’s dose of “Sociology Stuff” is a complete Global Development chapter (or “World Sociology” as it was when these notes were written) originally created by Mark Peace and cobbled together from pages in my possession and those shared by Bridget Gray. Because of the somewhat arbitrary recreation of the chapter some of the initial pages / numbers aren’t strictly sequential but they should still make sense…
While it’s not the most popular of a-level options there are areas in the chapter – such as global inequalities and the nature of social changes – that those teaching and learning other areas of the Specification might find helpful.
Having said that, these notes are around 10 years old and the pace of global change has increased markedly over this time period, so you probably need to approach the statistical content with care – the more-theoretical areas, such as theories of development, are probably more-robust in terms of their long-term relevance.
This set of Notes focuses on:
- Identifying the basic economic, political and cultural characteristics of modernity
- Relating these characteristics to the development of Consensus and Conflict Structuralism.
Although the idea of global influences on local and national cultural behaviours is not particularly new (different cultural practices and products have influenced “British culture” for many hundreds of years) what is new is the scope and speed of cultural diversity and change – processes hastened by technological developments such as cheap air travel in the mid-20th century and the Internet in the 21st century.
Those of you with long memories may recall the ATSS (Association for the Teaching of Social Science), an organisation that was eventually folded into the British Sociological Association and lives on (sort-of) in their Teaching Group.
Anyway, a while back (probably 10 years or so?) ATSS produced a range of Teacher Support booklets, some of which I’ve rediscovered on one of my many hard drives and now present to you “as is” on the off-chance you might find them useful (or you may be able to update and adapt them to your current needs…).
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.
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.
With the growth of video, podcasts seem to have fallen out of fashion in recent years which is a bit of a shame because they can be useful teaching / learning aids. From a production point-of-view they’re also cheap to create and easy to distribute so it’s perhaps surprising that more aren’t made.
Be that as it may, one accusation that can’t be levelled at AQA is jumping on a bandwagon before the train has left the station; so, a little late admittedly, comes these podtastic offerings for your listening pleasure. Atm there are only 4 casts (3 if you discount the “Overview”) and whether there will be any more is anyone’s guess (and mine, for what little it’s worth, is that there won’t be, but I’m prepared to be surprised).
Aside from the issues it raises about globalisation, social class and social inequality, this article is also useful as a contemporary example of labelling theory. How, for example, the label attached to something, such as “taxation” and “welfare benefits”, changes both our perception of – and behaviour towards – it.
Like its A-level Psychology counterpart, Sociology Review offers good-quality articles and support materials designed to help students gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of both Sociology and the requirements of the A-level exam.
The publishers, Hodder Education, have started to develop a strong web presence for the print magazine, part of which involves offering some nice freebies related to each issue’s content, which you can check-out here:
Sample Magazine – actually, if you know where to look (and we do…), 4 free online sample magazines with articles based around the following themes:
Applying concepts of McDonaldisation and Disneyfication to contemporary cultural products helps students get to grips with the concept of globalisation (particularly its cultural form, but also its economic form). These concepts also provide a relatively easy way for students to explore some of the effects of globalisation in terms of cultural homogenisation and diversity theories.
In small groups, using the following table as a template choose a category, such as film (or add your own) and identify any common cultural products for your age group that you think conform to the idea of McDonaldisation and/or Disneyfication.
Once you’ve done this, repeat the process – but this time identify cultural products that don’t conform to McDonaldisation and/or Disneyfication.
|Pop [bands are manufactured to appeal to certain age and gender group]||Romantic comedies [follow standard themes and developments]||
Teachers can use this exercise to introduce:
- Globalising processes.
- Globalising effects.
- Concepts of globalisation / glocalisation.
This short series of blog posts looks at various dimensions of new media, beginning with a broad overview of some key distinquishing features:
As Socha and Eber-Schmid (2012) argue “Part of the difficulty in defining New Media is that there is an elusive quality to the idea of new”. This “elusive quality” can, perhaps, be best captured by thinking about how Crosbie (2002) suggests three features of new media make them qualitatively different to old media:
- They can’t exist without the appropriate (computer) technology.
- Information can be personalised; individualised messages tailored to the particular needs of those receiving them can be simultaneously delivered to large numbers of people.
- Collective control means each person in a network can share, shape and change the content of the information being exchanged.
As an example Crosbie suggests “Imagine visiting a newspaper website and seeing not just the bulletins and major stories you wouldn’t have known about, but also the rest of that edition customized to your unique needs and interests. Rather than every reader seeing the same edition, each reader sees an edition simultaneously individualized to their interests and generalized to their needs”.
A further feature of new media is its capacity to be truly global in scope and reach. While older technologies like TV and film have global features – the American and Indian film industries, for example, span the globe – they are fundamentally local technologies; they are designed to be consumed by local audiences that just happen to be in different countries while new media, such as web sites or social networks, are global in intent. They enable global connections through the development of information networks based on the creation and exchange of information. A significant aspect of these global features is the ability to create and share text, images, videos and the like across physical borders through cyberspace.
The development of new media has led to a general debate about the implications of changing technologies and their impact on economic, political and cultural life, polarised around two opposing views – the first of which can be characterised as:
From this viewpoint the defining characteristic of new media is a form of digital liberation based, for Negroponte (1995), on four processes:
These processes impact on society in a range of ways:
In economic terms we see the development of new models of production, distribution and exchange, particularly “free” or “gifting” models where the consumer pays nothing to use a medium. One significant new model is the development of open economic systems where software, for example, is developed collaboratively to take advantage of wide creative pools of talent – an idea Tapscott and Williams (2008) call “Wikinomics” to reflect the pioneering collaborative efforts of Wikipedia.
Producers, especially large corporations, have to be more responsive to consumer demands because the ability to act as a global crowd, passing information swiftly from individual to individual, means corporate behaviour is continually being monitored, evaluated and held to account. Surowiecki (2005) argues digital technology facilitates crowd-sourcing, a process based on “the wisdom of crowds”; if you ask enough people their opinion a basic “crowd truth” will emerge.
Politically, the global flow of information weakens the hold of the State over individuals and ideas. Repressive State actions are much harder to disguise or keep secret when populations have access to instant forms of mass communication, such as Twitter. The Internet also makes it harder for the State to censor or restrict the flow of information and this contributes to political socialisation by way of greater understanding of the meaning of issues and events.
Culturally, behaviour can be both participatory and personalised, processes that in cyberspace can be complementary. The global village combines collectivity with individuality; cooperation flourishes while people simultaneously maintain what Negroponte calls the “Daily Me” – the personalisation of things like news and information focused around the specific interests of each individual. Personalisation contributes to participation through the development of a diverse individuality that leads to the development of new ways of thinking and behaving. The ability to be anonymous on the web encourages both freedom of speech and whistle-blowing.