Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture

Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture

Books

Roland Robertson

Abstract

The global society. Today everyone from scholars to politicians is debating the nature and makeup of a global society. But what is actually meant by a global society? Does such a global society actually exist? In Globalization, Roland Robertson argues that the real nature of globalization is obscured while peripheral concerns, such as minute economic analyses, are overstated. Robertson presents an alternative view that incorporates the economic and cultural aspects of the global scene, and in the process connects general social structures to historical developments in the modern world. Offering a distinctively cultural focus on the social theory of the contemporary world, Globalization makes a major contribution to the current debate for graduate students and professors of sociology, social theory, and cultural studies. “A professor ...

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  • Theory, Culture & Society

    Theory, Culture & Society caters for the resurgence of interest in culture within contemporary social science and the humanities. Building on the heritage of classical social theory, the book series examines ways in which this tradition has been reshaped by a new generation of theorists. It will also publish theoretically informed analyses of everyday life, popular culture, and new intellectual movements.

    EDITOR: Mike Featherstone, University of Teesside

    SERIES EDITORIAL BOARD

    Roy Boyne, University of Northumbria at Newcastle

    Mike Hepworth, University of Aberdeen

    Scott Lash, University of Lancaster

    Roland Robertson, University of Pittsburgh

    Bryan S. Turner, University of Essex

    Also in this series

    Global Culture

    Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity

    edited by Mike Featherstone

    Talcott Parsons

    Theorist of Modernity

    edited by Roland Robertson and Bryan S. Turner

    Images of Postmodern Society

    Social Theory and Contemporary Cinema

    Norman K. Denzin

    Promotional Culture

    Advertising, Ideology and Symbolic Expression

    Andrew Wernick

    Cultural Theory and Cultural Change

    edited by Mike Featherstone

    Changing Cultures

    Feminism, Youth and Consumerism

    Mica Nava

    Risk Society

    Towards a New Modernity

    Ulrich Beck

    Max Weber and the Sociology of Culture

    Ralph Schroeder

    Copyright

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    Dedication

    To Kate

    Acknowledgments

    I can only indicate here a few of those who have, in various ways, helped me. I express my thanks to Bryan Turner, whose wide-ranging interests and publications have stimulated me for many years. To Mike Featherstone I am grateful for his encouragement, his skepticism about such notions as ‘order’ and ‘religion,’ and his informed interest in contemporary culture. I owe a lot to Frank Lechner, both for his work and observations on globalization as a graduate student in the early 1980s and for his more recent, insightful contributions to globalization analysis. To Ronald Miller I also owe much for his long-standing interest in globalization and as interlocutor in intense conversations about the making of the contemporary world. Bill Garrett has been a source of continuous encouragement, as well as in terms of his own work on human rights and the theory of religion. John Simpson recognized the significance of the global perspective in its various manifestations from an early stage and he also has been a source of thoughtful comment. Recently I have begun to collaborate with Tom Robbins on aspects of globalization and I am pleased to acknowledge that. Stephen Barr of Sage Publications has been enormously helpful in a number of respects.

    There are others who have stimulated, challenged and prodded me, particularly various groups of graduate students at the University of Pittsburgh. Joe Roidt, of a recent cohort, has provided assistance and helpful comment. I hope that those I have not named individually here will understand. Some of them are in any case mentioned in the following chapters. The University of Pittsburgh, to which I initially came as a visitor in 1967, has provided a setting in which area, comparative and international studies have been encouraged. Secretaries in the Department of Sociology worked very hard for me in the last phase of putting this book together and I am very grateful for that.

    My greatest debt is undoubtedly to my wife, Kathleen White. Her own work in planning and administering programs in international studies has been a source of inspiration, as has her independent eagerness to live in and talk almost incessantly about the multifaceted and politically charged, globalized world on a day-to-day basis.

    None of the above, it should be said, is to be held responsible for what is said in this book.

    Much of the following originated in presentations at conferences and/or was published in the first place in books or journals. However, it should be emphasized that none of the chapters is published here in its original form. Each of those which derives from a previous publication has, in varying degrees, been revised and in most cases considerably expanded.

    Chapter 2 is a modified and expanded version of ‘The sociological significance of culture: some general considerations,’ which appeared in Theory, Culture & Society, 5 (1), 1988.

    Chapter 3 is a revised and expanded version of ‘Mapping the global condition: globalization as the central concept,’ which appeared in Theory, Culture & Society, 7 (2–3), 1990.

    Chapter 4 is mainly a combination of a revised version of ‘Modernization, globalization and the problem of culture in world-systems theory,’ which appeared in Theory, Culture & Society, 2 (3), 1985 and part of ‘Globality, global culture and images of world order,’ which appeared in Hans Haferkamp and Neil J. Smelser (eds), Social Change and Modernity, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. The former was originally written jointly with Frank Lechner, who has kindly agreed to its revised publication here. He is not, however, a party to the present version.

    Chapter 5 is a revised and expanded version of ‘Globalization and societal modernization: a note on Japan and Japanese religion,’ which appeared in Sociological Analysis, 47 (S), 1987.

    Chapter 6 is a revised and expanded version of ‘Social theory, cultural relativity and the problem of globality,’ which appeared in Anthony D. King (ed.), Culture, Globalization and the World-System, London: Macmillan; Binghamton: State University of New York, 1991.

    Chapter 7 is a revised and expanded version of ‘“Civilization” and the civilizing process: Elias, globalization and analytic synthesis,’ which appeared in Theory, Culture & Society, 9 (1), 1992.

    Chapter 8 is an edited version of ‘Globalization theory and civilization analysis,’ which appeared in Comparative Civilizations Review, 17 (Fall), 1987.

    Chapter 9 is a modified version of a review essay entitled ‘Globality and modernity,’ which appeared in Theory, Culture & Society, 9 (2), 1992.

    Chapter 10 is a much revised version of ‘After nostalgia? Wilful nostalgia and the phases of globalization,’ which appeared in Bryan S. Turner (ed.), Theories of Modernity and Postmodernity, London: Sage, 1990.

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