Postgraduate Course: Globalization (SCIL11016)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course critically examines the subject of globalisation from a sociological perspective. Globalisation is a vast topic, and no one course can cover all its aspects. This course aims to give the student grounding in the most fundamental aspects of globalisation, with exploration of selected substantive topics ('case studies') to help root the general in the particular. We examine the concept itself, the central themes of changing communications, social networks, and experiences of space and time, and the major economic, political and ideological dimensions of globalisation. The view taken in this course is that, while there have been distinctive social changes associated with globalisation in recent decades, to understand this process we need to regularly relocate it in a long-term historical perspective. Globalisation has been happening for centuries, and to understand current processes of globalisation, we need to relate them to a deeper history of globalisation. We also need to be careful about talking of globalisation as if it were one thing. In fact this very broad term encompasses an array of different social processes that need to be distinguished in order to be better understood.
This course critically examines the subject of globalisation from a sociological perspective. Globalisation is a vast topic, and no one course can cover all its aspects. This course aims to give the student grounding in the most fundamental aspects of globalisation, with exploration of selected substantive topics ('case studies') to help root the general in the particular. We examine the concept itself, the central themes of changing communications, social networks, and experiences of space and time, and the major economic, political and ideological dimensions of globalisation.
Globalisation is also a very popular topic, resulting in a lot of loose and poorly thought-through talk and writing around the subject. The view taken in this course is that, while there have been distinctive social changes associated with globalisation in recent decades, to understand this process we need to regularly relocate it in a long-term historical perspective. Globalisation has been happening for centuries, and to understand current processes of globalisation, we need to relate them to a deeper history of globalisation. We also need to be careful about talking of globalisation as if it were one thing. In fact this very broad term encompasses an array of different social processes that need to be to be distinguished in order to be better understood.
1. Introduction: conceptualising globalisation critically
We interrogate the very concept of globalisation. Is it a system? A process? When did it begin? What does it mean to look at it sociologically, historically, politically, economically? What is meant by such cognate terms as 'globalism' and 'globality'?
2. 'Communications', 'networks' and 'space/time compression'
If one idea ties together the diverse literature on globalisation, it is that communication has accelerated, and space and time have become 'compressed', as messages, information, ideas, commodities, money, people, and so on, move ever more extensively and rapidly around the globe. This is frequently linked to the idea that new kinds of social networks are forming in this new context. We explore these ideas.
3. Case Study: Global production and China as world factory
In this class, we will consider how production processes have been remade in an era of global economic integration, exploring some different ways of thinking about the forces involved in turning China into a factory for the world. Should we think of these changes as mainly driven by capital? To what extent is the state also an actor? How about labour? How do the different scales on which these sets of actors operate contribute to shaping the conditions of the 'world factory'? We will also explore how the specific institutional landscape of work and residence in contemporary China has facilitated the integration of Chinese factories into global chains of production.
4. Economic processes: trade, markets, capitalism
Most conceptions of globalisation emphasise the role of economics, trade, market exchange, capitalism, and high finance. With an often unspoken nod to Marx, economics processes are seen as an infrastructure that drives changes in other aspects of social life. Is this true? What has changed economically in recent decades? How uniform are these processes? What does 'capitalism' have to do with it?
5. Case Study: Financialisation of the economy
Is finance, to quote sociologist Saskia Sassen, 'the steam engine of our epoch', present everywhere directly or indirectly, simultaneously beneficial and destructive in its effects? How did financial markets and institutions become global, and what does it mean to say that? In what ways are they not global at all? What do financiers do, and what do financiers and finance do for us? What do the vast sums of money quoted in analyses of and debates about the financial industry actually mean? We explore how new financial instruments and the logics that underpin and justify them have extended into new markets and across borders and in the process remade not just the banking industry or stock exchanges but fundamental understandings of politics of ethics.
6. Political processes: states, nations, empires, colonialism and hegemons
How has politics served to integrate the world over the centuries? How are those processes changing? How has political domination, authority and legitimacy been created at ever larger scales? What are the possibilities and limits of this trend? We look at empires, the enduring powers of national states, and democratization.
7. Case Study: Globalisation and social/political movements
Contemporary movements emerge, mobilise and operate within a global context. Ideas, tactics and resources are diffused across countries and continents and both Political Opportunities and targets of mobilisation are no longer confined to the nation state in which protest arises. In this lecture we will consider globalisation as context, process and ideal in social movement enterprises.
8. Ideological processes: religion, science, '-isms', and beliefs
Ideas and beliefs travel and spread around the globe, and have done for centuries. What are some of the major ways this has happened? Are there global belief systems? Much of the literature on globalisation emphasises global 'culture', but we focus more on a broad concept of ideology and the conditions that accompany the movement of ideas and beliefs.
9. Case Study: 'Neoliberalism' as a world ideological movement
The term 'neoliberalism' is often used in ways that are almost synonymous with globalisation itself. Here we try to distinguish neoliberalism as an ideological formation with a history of articulation and growth. To what extent is it prescriptive versus descriptive? Is it reaching its limits, or will it continue to shape and reflect the world¿s political economy?
10. Conclusion and review
The last class is relatively open. It is an opportunity to look back at the course and get an overview, and to raise any outstanding questions. No new readings are assigned but students are encouraged to re-read or catch up on materials from the course, and to write down a few questions in advance, before coming to class.
The course is taught through a combination of one-hour lectures by the convenor and by guest lecturers on specialist topics. Five two-hour student-run advanced seminars, allow small groups of students to present on selected topics and lead discussions, with the guidance of the course convenor. The emphasis in these seminars is more on surveying a lot of material and getting a feel for the issues, than it is on close reading of particular texts. It is not a matter of reporting back on assigned readings, but rather an exercise in defining key questions and issues within a topic area, for further investigation. Under each topic there is a list of 'resources'. Nothing is assigned. Students should read within and beyond these as suits their interest, as long as they engage with the general topic for the seminar.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||In this course the students are assessed by a single long, 4000 word essay on a globalization topic of their choice, agreed in consultation with the course convenor. This should be decided by the end of Week 7 to allow plenty of time to develop the essay. I will also supply a list of pre-approved essay titles. If you do not define your own topic by the deadline you will be expected to use one of these titles.
||All essays are electronically marked and moderated, and given extensive feedback comments. Students are invited to submit an essay abstract outline to receive feedback in advance of submitting their essay that they can feed into the final essay.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Be able to demonstrate a clear grasp of the concept of globalisation and contending definitions of it.
- Appreciate of the importance of historical perspective for a sociological understanding globalisation.
- Grasp the importance of key concepts of 'communication' and 'social networks' for the study of globalisation.
- Know how to distinguish between economic, political and ideological dimensions of globalisation, and articulate an analytic understanding of how they interact.
- Write an independently researched essay on a globalisation related topic.
Albrow, M. (1996) The Global Age: State and Society Beyond Modernity. Cambridge: Polity.
Beck, U. (2005) Power in the Global Age. Cambridge: Polity.
Bhagwati, J. (2004) In Defense of Globalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Castells, M. (1997) The Power of Identity, Vol. II of The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Cambridge MA and Oxford: Blackwell.
Cowen, T. (2002) Creative Destruction. How Globalization Is Changing the World¿s Cultures. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Dasgupta and Kiely, R. (eds.) (2006) Globalization and After. New Delhi: Sage.
Diamond. J. (1998) Guns Germs and Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13, 000 Years, London: Vintage.
Giddens, Anthony (1999) Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping our Lives, London: Profile Books.
Featherstone, M. Lash, S. and Robertson, R. (1995) Global Modernities, London: Thousand Oaks.
Harvey, D. (2006) Spaces of Global Capitalism. Toward a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development. London: Verso.
Held, D. and McGrew, A. (eds) (2003) The Global Transformations Reader, 2nd edn, Polity.
Hirst, P. and Thompson, G. (2009) Globalization in Question, 3rd edn, Polity.
James, P. (2006) Globalism, Nationalism, Tribalism: bringing theory back in. London: Sage.
Kreiger, J. (ed.) (2006) Globalization and State Power: A Reader. New York: Routledge.
Mann, M. (2011) Power in the 21st Century: Conversations with John A. Hall, Cambridge: Polity.
Mann, M. (2013) The Sources of Social Power, Vol. 4: Globalizations, 1945-2011. Cambridge: CUP.
Mittleman, J. H. (2000) The Globalization Syndrome: Transformation and Resistance, Princeton UP.
O¿Byrne, D. J. and Hensby, A. (2011) Theorizing Global Studies. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Osterhammel, J. and Niels P. P. (2003) Globalization: A Short History, Princeton UP.
Pieterse, J. N. (2009) Globalization and Culture. The Global Mélange. Lanham MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Ray, L. (2007) Globalization and Everyday Life, London: Routledge.
Ritzer, G. (2007) The Globalization of Nothing, 2nd edn, Sage.
Ritzer, G., (ed.) (2008) The Blackwell Companion to Globalization, Blackwell. (e-book)
Ritzer, G. (2011) Globalization: The Essentials. Wiley-Blackwell.
Robertson, R. (1992) Globalization: social theory and global culture. London: Sage.
Rosenberg, Justin (2000) The Follies of Globalisation Theory. London: Verso.
Santos, B. de S. (2002) Toward a New Legal Common Sense: law, globalization and emancipation. Cambridge UP.
Sassen, S. (2007) A Sociology of Globalization, W. W. Norton.
Sassen, S. (2008) Territory, Authority, Rights. From Medieval to Global Assemblages. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Scholte, J. A. (2005) Globalization: a critical introduction, 2nd edn, Palgrave Macmillan. (e-book)
Steger, M. B. (2009) Globalization: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Stiglitz, J. (2002) Globalization and its discontents. London: Penguin Books.
Stearns, Peter N. (2009) Globalization in World History. London: Routledge.
Therborn, G. (2011) The World: A Beginner¿s Guide, Cambridge: Polity.
Waters, M. (1995) Globalization, 2nd edn, London: Routledge.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||This course is taught in conjunction with an undergraduate course of the same name. Postgraduates attend weekly lectures for that course and are invited to stay on for second hour discussion of weekly topics. Postgraduates are also required to attend a two-hour 'advanced seminar' every two weeks (10 hours over 10 weeks) in which students lead in-depth exploration of more specialised topics.
|Course organiser||Dr Angelica Thumala
Tel: (0131 6)50 6631
|Course secretary||Ms Nicole Develing-Bogdan
Tel: (0131 6)51 5067