Understanding Globalization


Tony Schirato & Jen Webb

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  • Glossary

    • affect Term used to designate emotions and attitudes produced in textual and other interactions. Hardt and Negri (2000) extend this to discuss what they term the ‘affect industries’, especially the media and advertising: industries designed to construct a sense of attitude in their consumers.

    • archaeological The term used by Michel Foucault to refer to the process of working through the historical archives of various societies to bring to light the discursive formations and events that have produced the fields of knowledge and discursive formations of different historical periods.

    • biopower The technologies, knowledges, discourses, politics and practices used to bring about the production and management of a state's human resources. Biopower analyses, regulates, controls, explains and defines the human subject, its body and its behaviour. For Michel Foucault it is associated most particularly with official institutions that construct spaces and ways of regulating (and so producing) people–schools, hospitals and prisons.

    • Bretton Woods An international system of monetary management, based on a series of multilateral agreements and developed in 1944 to fix and stabilize foreign exchange rates following World War II; associated with the estabishment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

    • capitalism Currently the dominant system for the organization of economies; characterized by the private ownership of the means of production, and reliance on the market to direct economic activity and distribute economic goods and rewards. Its founding principle is the pursuit of self-interest through competition (see Marxism).

    • convergence theory Term associated with the Swedish economists Eli Heckscher and Bertil Ohlin, who developed it in reference to post-World War I commodity price convergence and income distribution effects; refers to the idea that increased circulation of trade, capital, technology, education and people necessarily leads to convergence of inequality across different nations.

    • cultural capital A form of value associated with culturally authorized tastes, consumption patterns, attributes, skills and awards. Within the field of education, for example, an academic degree constitutes cultural capital.

    • cultural field Term associated with Pierre Bourdieu, which refers to all those things in a society–institutions, rules, rituals, conventions, categories, designations, appointments and titles – which constitute an objective social hierarchy, and which produce and authorize certain discourses and activities. Cultural fields are always the site of conflict about what constitutes capital within that field, and how that capital is to be distributed. Examples of cultural fields include art, sport, the economy, education and other major social institutions which operate in relative autonomy from the general social field.

    • discourses The forms of language associated with, and which express the values of, particular cultural fields. A legal discourse, for example, expresses the values and beliefs of the field of law.

    • doxa Pierre Bourdieu's term for a set of core values and discourses which a field articulates as its fundamental principles and which tend to be viewed as inherently true and necessary. For Bourdieu, the ‘doxic attitude’ means bodily and unconscious Submission to conditions that are in fact quite arbitrary and contingent (see ideology).

    • Empire Coined by Hardt and Negri (2000), the term refers to both a system and a hierarchy which organizes the global world and orders it within their logic. Empire is constituted by, and constitutive of, the imbrication of the economic, political and cultural aspects of contemporary life.

    • Enlightenment, The Both a collection of ideas and attitudes (concerning reason, justice, equality, progress and rationality) and a series of political events (starting with the French revolution). Historically, the Enlightenment sought to replace the old order of absolute sovereignty, injustice, ignorance and superstition with an order based on reason, rationality and equality. The Enlightenment can be understood as being based on an interrogation of how and what and why things are, and as a particular self-referential attitude to oneself and one's time.

    • endocolonialism Paul Virilio's term for the new form of colonialism where social and economic inequalities are not exported ‘to the colonies’ but are accentuated within colonialist states such as the United States and the United Kingdom (see Empire).

    • exocolonialism The traditional form of colonialism, characterized by an imperial centre which controlled and directed politics, economic and social organization throughout the empire (see Empire).

    • foreclosure Usually associated with psychoanalytical theory; a process whereby certain feelings, desires, ideas and positions are both unthinkable with regard to, and simultaneously constitutive of, identity.

    • G-8 The Group of Eight, an international, informal organization compromising eight of the main industrialized countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) which meets annually to discuss economic policies.

    • global convergence The tendency, facilitated by communication technologies, to bring together different communities, institutions, media.

    • globalists ‘Believers’, in globalization, in the sense that for them it is a real and significant historical development.

    • habitus A concept that expresses, on the one hand, the way in which individuals ‘become themselves’–develop attitudes and dispositions–and, on the other hand, the ways in which those individuals engage in practices. An artistic habitus, for example, disposes the individual artist to certain activities and perspectives that express the culturallly and historically constituted values of the artistic field.

    • hegemony The way states and state institutions work to ‘win’ popular consent for their authority through a variety of processes which disguise their position of dominance.

    • hyperreality Artificially heightened, exaggerated form of realism which permeates much of contemporary culture, whereby fabrications seem to be more real than material reality–and better (more interesting, more beautiful, more efficient) than the original.

    • ideology A practice whereby a particular group within a culture attempts to naturalize their own meanings and values, or pass them off as universal and as common sense (see doxa).

    • informationalism Associated with the pre-eminence of knowledge, information and communication in the globalized world; a shift towards the production of ‘immaterial goods’ such as information and networking; and the transformation of how the world understands time and space.

    • Keynesianism An economic perspective developed from the work of British economist John Maynard Keynes, which argues against the classical capitalist view that the market is a self-regulating system capable of delivering prosperity. Keynesian economists encourage government intervention to ensure the smooth and equitable working of the market.

    • Marxism A way of understanding the world that focuses on economic relations and class conflict; includes as an objective the attainment of a Communist system of economic organization, whereby the means of production are held in public ownership (see capitalism).

    • mini-systems Term associated with Immanuel Wallerstein; where division of labour and economic exchange occur only within a discrete group (see world-systems).

    • modernity As used in disciplines like philosophy, historiography and sociology, generally refers to that period of (Western) history which dates from the Enlightenment to the present, and which is characterized by scientific rationality, the development of commerce and capitalism, the rise of education, surveillance, urbanism and atheism.

    • neoliberalism A way of understanding the world as committed to a particular idea of freedom, in the form of the unfettered circulation of capital and goods. Aspires to the liberation of money and entrepreneurship from social contexts and their obligations.

    • Neomarxism A way of understanding the world which draws on Marxism, but which is cautious of grand narratives (of which Marxism is one), and gives more emphasis to the cultural aspects than the economic organization of society.

    • Orientalism A term associated with Edward Said; it provides the tools through which the world is divided up into us/them, rational/irrational, centre /periphery, the West/the rest.

    • politics of naming The notion that powerful discourses shape everyday life; discourses which simultaneously name, and thus help bring into being, what they are supposedly designating or describing.

    • postmodernism Variously understood as a period of time (from about the 1960s), a way of thinking or a set of cultural practices that followed, and in many ways draw on, modernist notions. Associated with pastiche, irony and relativism.

    • public sphere Like ‘civil society’, related to but distinct from, and exceeding, national government. The public sphere is an important aspect of how people understand themselves as members of communities, because it appears at least to be a site in which the interests of ‘the people’ take precedence over the interests of power.

    • sceptics Writers on globalization who consider that it is not a new feature of sociopolitical organization, and that it is principally ideological rather than material.

    • sovereignty The combination of political control, administrative functions and regulatory mechanisms that characterize the individual nation-state, and that state's right to control activities within its borders.

    • standing reserve Martin Heidegger uses this term to explain that because modern technology is capable of producing an excess, of forcing nature to yield product, it always produces a store available for human use. He uses the example of an airliner waiting on the runway; it is standing reserve because its identity is ‘the possibility of transportation’ and it is simply waiting to be put to use. But, he goes on to argue, human beings are also part of the standing reserve, part of what is put to work in the great technological machine.

    • symbolic violence The violence which is exercised upon individuals in a symbolic, rather than a physical, way. It may take the form of people being denied resources, treated as inferior or being limited in terms of realistic aspirations. Gender relations, for example, have tended to be constituted out of symbolic violence which have denied women the rights and opportunities available to men.

    • technē Term associated with Martin Heidegger, who uses it to refer to all activities involving human skill (artisan craft, intellectual thought, artistic imagination and creation).

    • technological determinism The notion that technology is independent of social contexts, and simultaneously imposes itself on to society and transforms it.

    • technology For Sigmund Freud, simply an extension of our natural organs to get things done. Includes tools and machinery, and is often associated with progress; for Foucault, refers firstly to the ways in which societies pacify, dominate and regulate subjects, and secondly to ‘technologies of the self’ which allow individuals to shape their own bodies and thoughts.

    • turn to the local The tendency in contemporary society for communities to focus attention and loyalty on local traditions, values and practices, at the expense of national or international considerations.

    • universalism The attribution of universal standing and significance to contingent attitudes and issues; often seen in writings and media statements to extend to the entire world values that in fact may have very local meanings. To treat a set of values derived from a particular field as though they are universally applicable across every field. For instance, academics may attempt to universalize the value of contemplative reflection and regard it as a form of behaviour to which everyone should aspire.

    • Westphalia model Named for the signing in 1648 of the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War in Europe. A condition of the Peace was the recognition of sovereign states with clear geographical boundaries and recognized governments which held the monopoly of force over their territory. It changed the previous system of government and forms of identification because of this institution of territoriality and autonomy.

    • world-systems Term associated with Immanuel Wallerstein; where economic exchange occurs across political and cultural barriers (see mini-systems).


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