Globalization: The Human Consequences

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The word "globalization" is used to convey the hope and determination of order-making on a worldwide scale. It is trumpeted as providing more mobility―of people, capital, and information―and as being equally beneficial for everyone. With recent technological developments―most notably the Internet―globalization seems to be the fate of the world. But no one seems to be in control. As noted sociologist Zygmunt Bauman shows in this detailed history of globalization, while human affairs now take place on a global scale, we are not able to direct events; we can only watch as boundaries, institutions, and loyalties shift in rapid and unpredictable ways. Who benefits from the new globalization? Are people in need assisted more quickly and efficiently? Or are the poor worse off than ever before? Will a globalized economy shift jobs away from traditional areas, destroying time-honored national industries? Who will enjoy access to jobs in the new hierarchy of mobility?

From the way the global economy creates a class of absentee landlords to current prison designs for the criminalized underclass, Bauman dissects globalization in all its manifestations: its effects on the economy, politics, social structures, and even our perceptions of time and space. In a chilling analysis, Bauman argues that globalization divides as much as it unites, creating an ever-widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots. Rather than the hybrid culture we had hoped for, globalization is creating a more homogenous world.

Drawing on the works of philosophers, social historians, architects, and theoreticians such as Michel Foucault, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Alfred J. Dunlap, and Le Corbusier, Globalization presents a historical overview of the methods employed to create and define human spaces and institutions, from rural villages to sprawling urban centers. Bauman shows how the advent of the computer translates into the decline of truly public space. And he explores the dimensions of a world in which―through new technologies―time is accelerated and space is compressed, revealing how we have arrived at our current state of global thinking. Bauman's incisive methods of inquiry make Globalization an excellent antidote to the exuberance expressed by those who stand to benefit from the new pace and mobility of the modern life.

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Book Description:

Globalization may spur the movement of people, capital, and information across the globe, but if people themselves are not in control of these processes, who benefits? Human affairs now take place on a global scale, but we can only watch as boundaries, institutions, and loyalties shift rapidly. These new uncertainties place everyone at a disadvantage as jobs disappear from traditional arenas, time-honored national industries collapse, and new hierarchies arise in which everyone is expendable and replaceable. Drawing on the works of philosophers, social historians, architects, and theoreticians such as Michel Foucault, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Alfred J. Dunlap, and Le Corbusier, Zygmunt Bauman takes a closer look at globalization's positive and negative effects. From the creation of absentee landlords to prison architecture designed for the criminalization of the underclass, Bauman ultimately finds more division than unity in the rise of a more homogenous, disenfranchised world.

From the Back Cover:

'Globalization' is a word that is currently much in use. This book is an attempt to show that there is far more to globalization than its surface manifestations. Unpacking the social roots and social consequences of globalizing processes, this book disperses some of the mist that surrounds the term.


Alongside the emerging planetary dimensions of business, finance, trade and information flow, a 'localizing', space-fixing process is set in motion. What appears as globalization for some, means localization for many others; signalling new freedom for some, globalizing processes appear as uninvited and cruel fate for many others. Freedom to move, a scarce and unequally distributed commodity, quickly becomes the main stratifying factor of our times.


Neo-tribal and fundamentalist tendencies are as legitimate offspring of globalization as the widely acclaimed 'hybridization' of top culture - the culture at the globalized top. A particular reason to worry is the progressive breakdown in communication between the increasingly global and extra- territorial elites and ever more 'localized' majority. The bulk of the population, the 'new middle class', bears the brunt of these problems, and suffers uncertainty, anxiety and fear as a result.


This book is a major contribution to the unfolding debate about globalization, and as such will be of interest to students and professionals in sociology, human geography and cultural issues.

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