Globalization - University of Ottawa

CMN 2168
Recap: neo-liberalism
Information technology and globalization (part
Recap: main concepts of globalization.
Recap – Neo-liberalism
1. Neo-liberalism aims at getting gouverments
‘away from controlling or intervening in the
affairs of business’;
2. ‘…each goverment’s reforms involved the
reasonably predictable neoliberal goals of
downsizing or privatizing public institutions,
services and utilities such as airlines and
3. ‘…a failure to embrace the imperative to
‘reform’ bureaucracies could involve negative
consequences for those failing to comply’ (37).
Empire is a system and a hierarchy. It has its own
‘Sovereignty has taken a new form, composed of a
series of national and supranational organisms united
under a single logic of rule’.
‘The declining sovereignty of nation-states and their
increasing inability to regulate economic and cultural
exchanges is one of the primary symptoms of
Empire’ (Hardt and Negri).
2. ‘Empire processes cultures, crises, ressources
and power formations in order to reproduce
and extend itself ’ (33).
‘The rule of Empire operates on all-registers
of the social order extending down to the
depths of the social world. Empire not only
manages a territory and a population but also
creates the very world it inhabits’ (Hardt and
For Bourdieu, one of the most influential doxa
is neo-liberalism.
Neo-liberalism has been established and
imposed as a doxa through language and media.
‘the process of naming that brings about this
taken-for-grantedness is based on euphemisms
which direct attention away from the negative
social effects of economic competition and the
goal of maximum profit, and which is
consequently difficult to critique’ (35)
3. Empire is decentred and boundless.
Power is now diffused throughout different
apparatuses, organizations, agents…
4. ‘Empire is constituted by, and constitutive of,
the imbrication of the economic, political and
cultural aspects of contemporary life’ (34).
Technology and globalization
According to many, contemporary society is no
longer organized on the basis of material goods.
Everything is supposedly organized on the basis
of information and knowledge.
This is the global information society, also called
post-industrial or service society.
New information and communication
technologies (ICTs) are supposed to be
revolutionary innovations, which reshape the
whole world.
This means that grand narratives are over.
Grand narratives are global discourses, allencompassing stories that order individuals’
experiences and thoughts.
Central claims about the information society:
A social revolution
Transformation of economic relations
Transformation of political practices and communities
Decline of the state
Technology, informationalism and
space / time
The development of new technologies has led
to the reduction of the effects of space and time
on everyday life and on trade.
The speed of transmission, and the mobility of
capital, mean that both space and time seem to
have been collapsed entirely (46).
A large number of analysts reduce the processes
of globalization to the consequences of the
development of new communication
technologies (47).
Wrong or right?
There are many connections between
technology and globalization.
Classic correspondance between progress and
technological development.
Belief that technology can transform the world
for the better.
Beliefs present at different periods of time.
Armand Mattelart: many writers ‘ celebrated the
ways in which science and technology would
bring into being utopias marked by productive,
attractive and fair working conditions, the
abolition of child labour, universal
emancipation, the domestication of climates,
equality, an expanded public sphere, and the
disappearance of poverty, ignorance, class, and
cultural misunderstandings’ (48).
as well as:
Fear of uncontrollable aspects of technology.
As for globalization, there have different ways
of understanding the place and the effects of
technology on contemporary society.
For Jean-François Lyotard, the ideology of
communication transparency and the roles /
responsabilities / functions of the state are
bound to clash.
For Jacques Ellul, technologies have a powerful
impact on social relations, the latter being mostly
reduced to the interactions provided by the
technologies in question.
Beware of technological determinism!
Technological determinism is ‘the notion that
technology is independent of social contexts,
and simultaneously imposes itself on to society
and transforms it’ (219).
Here the question is the following: is technology
a product of a particular social context or does
technology produce society?
Schirato and Webb argue that ‘it is misleading to
try to make sense of the notion of globalization
purely or even predominantly in terms of
technical changes or developments… there is a
difference between pointing out that
technology… has affected the way many people
live and think, and going on from there to argue
that technology equals globalization’ (50).
‘… social and cultural factors determine
technological development at least as much as
technology determines cultural development’
‘… we can see technology as operating within a
context, transforming and being transformed by
the ‘larger assemblage of events and power’ in
which it is being utilized and given meaning’
Technology is tied up to the society in which it
is produced.
There is no universal / universalizing
‘…the processes associated with globalization can be
understood as a pledge of faith in the ability of science
and technology to bring into being the ‘freedom of
circulation’ of ideas, goods and peoples. This is where
technology comes to be seen as having a value
independent of the contexts in which it is involved or
deployed’ (56).
Borders and barriers are consequently made irrevelant
‘…technology allows an event… to be taken out
of time and place, since in a few seconds the
‘real’ of the here and now of an exotic foreign
location is available to [another] person…’ (57).
Recap – what is globalization?
The accelerating pace of globalisation is having a
profound effect on life in rich and poor countries alike,
transforming regions such as Detroit or Bangalore
from boom to bust - or vice versa - in a generation.
Many economists believe globalisation may be the
explanation for key trends in the world economy such
- Lower wages for workers, and higher profits, in Western
- The flood of migrants to cities in poor countries
- Low inflation and low interest rates despite strong
And globalisation has played a key role in the
unprecedented increase in prosperity in the last
50 years, which is now spreading from the
United States and Europe to include many
formerly poor countries in Asia, including China
and India.
In economic terms, globalisation refers to the
growing economic integration of the world, as
trade, investment and money increasingly cross
international borders (which may or may not
have political or cultural implications).
Globalisation is not new, but is a product of the
industrial revolution. Britain growing rich in the
19th century as the first global economic
superpower, based on its superior manufacturing
technology and improved global
communications such as steamships and
But the pace, scope and scale of globalisation
have accelerated dramatically since World War
II, and especially in the last 25 years.
The rapid spread of information technology
(IT) and the internet is changing the way
companies organise production, and increasingly
allowing services as well as manufacturing to be
The role of trade
Trade has been the engine of globalisation, with
world trade in manufactured goods increasing
more than 100 times (from $95bn to $12 trillion)
in the last 50 years since 1955, much faster than
the overall growth of the world economy.
Since 1960, increased trade has been made easier
by international agreements to lower tariff and
non-tariff barriers on the export of
manufactured goods, especially to rich countries.
In the post-war years more and more of global
production has been carried out by big
multinational companies who operate across
Multinationals have becoming increasingly
global, locating manufacturing plants overseas in
order to capitalise on cheaper labour costs or to
be closer to their markets.
Western anxities
The dizzying pace of change in the new world of
globalization is unprecedented, and can be frightening.
A recent poll by Deloitte in November 2006 showed a
sharp increase in worries about outsourcing of white
collar jobs in the UK.
Just 13% said it was a good thing , compared to 29% in
January, while 82% of the public believe enough jobs
have been sent abroad already, and 32% wanted to
force companies to bring jobs back to Britain.
(very good summary of what globalization is and does)

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