Globalization does not have the same meaning for every-one. For some, it mainly refers to the changing geographies of production, distribution and consumption, to new spaces of interaction with other people that they are – able to be – part of, the changing characteristics of the community and environment in which they live. Or to the different worlds – real, digital or virtual – in which they can have a presence, altering feelings of identity and belonging. Others associate globalization – when travelling – with the seemingly similar goods and cultures they are able to consume in irrespective what corner of the globe, against the preservation of traditions that also can be experienced. Or, with new cross-border networks that restructure the way politics, government and governance are conducted. Yet others perceive globalization as change or restructuring beyond their immediate life sphere, but impacting this sphere, without ability of control.
In the past decades generally judged as positively impacting economic, social, political, cultural and spatial change, globalization recently has come under attack as it is seen as the root cause of a range of current social issues. Responses accomodating negative sentiment are already evident. To mention a few: anti-EU sentiment is propelling institutional reconfiguration, international trade agreements have been scrapped as international economic integration is perceived to be doing more harm than good and its benefits are seen as uneven; changing sentiment in local communities produces barriers to newcomers; international migration meets new fences; protectionism and nationalism are on a rise, cross-cultural relations are changing. Globalization is increasingly perceived as contrarian to values in the social and environmental field: social equality, sustainability. On a grander scale, uncertainties are raised by a process of global change whereby the existing order may be fundamentally reshaped as ‘Westernization’ is giving way to ‘Easternization’. While one camp argues closure of the era of globalization, another camp laments a full retreat: it should be reshaped but not abandoned.
What is globalization exactly about, how has it changed economies, societies, communities and places. What are the debates and thoughts on the merits of globalization as we know it? Are the responses to anti-sentiment justified? Will we see its demise or will it be reshaped? Who are the actors and what influence do they have? Are new global relations and ‘a different world’ at our doorstep? What will be the implications for diverse groups in different societies?
This course delves into these questions and assesses globalization from different angles, such as economy (dealing with mobilities of production, financial capital and labour), governance and institutional arrangements, culture, society and geopolitics. Geography is brought in, by considering a) the redefinition of concepts such as place, space, scale and territorial development, b) the differential experience of globalization in different places, and c) global shifts.