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Social Sci LibreTexts

13: Globalization

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  • Learning Objectives

    • Define globalization and the 5 “scapes” that can be used to characterize global flows or exchanges.
    • Explain the relationship between globalization and the creation of new “glocal” lifestyles and forms of consumption.
    • Describe some of the ways people use agency to respond to globalization including syncretism and participation in alternative markets.
    • Assess the relationship between globalization, neoliberalism, and neocolonialism.
    • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the intensification of globalization.
    • Discuss the implications of globalization for anthropology.

    • 13.1: Overview and Early Globalization
      It is challenging to determine precisely when globalization began. Although some people discuss globalization as if it was an entirely new process without historical antecedents, in truth its precursors have been going on for a very long time. In this chapter, we argue that the distinguishing feature of globalization in the contemporary era is the speed, rather than the scope, of global interactions.
    • 13.2: The Five "Scapes" of Globalization
      Globalization refers to the increasing pace and scope of interconnections across the globe. Anthropologist Arjun Appadurai has discussed this in terms of five specific “scapes”: ethnoscapes, technoscapes, ideoscapes, financescapes, and mediascapes. Thinking of globalization in terms of the people, things, and ideas that flow across national boundaries is a productive framework for understanding the shifting social landscapes in which contemporary people are often embedded in their daily lives.
    • 13.3: Selective Importation and Adaptation
      Globalization most certainly changes the landscape of contemporary social life (see the discussion of the five "scapes" in the previous section). Yet it would be a mistake to think of globalization as a state that emerges without human agency. In most cases, people make decisions regarding whether or not they want to adopt a new product or idea that has been made available to them via globalization.
    • 13.4: Globalization in Everyday Life
      Although some within the discipline argue that anthropologists should report objectively on the cultures and social phenomena they study, given the structure of the discourse surrounding globalization, it is increasingly difficult to avoid being pigeonholed as “pro” or “anti” globalization. In truth though, globalization has had both positive and negative impacts.
    • 13.5: Globalization and Neoliberalism
      Latin America provides a good example of how the shift from colonialism to neoliberalism has been disseminated through and exacerbated by globalization. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the Latin American colonies’ independence from Spain and Portugal was secure, but the relations of power that prevailed during the colonial period had largely been replicated with local elites controlling the means of production.
    • 13.6: Responses to Globalization
      Cultures are dynamic and respond to changes in both the social and physical environments in which they are embedded. While culture provides a template for action, people are also active agents who respond to challenges and opportunities in a variety of ways, some of which may be quite creative and novel.
    • 13.7: Implications for Anthropology
      As has been argued throughout this text, culture is dynamic. So too is anthropology as the field of study dedicated to culture. Although many students of anthropology (let alone the public at large) may have romantic visions of the lone ethnographer immersing her or himself in the rich community life of a rural village in a remote land, this is not the reality for most anthropologists today.
    • 13.8: End of Chapter Discussion
    • 13.9: About the Authors

    Thumbnail: Counter service in a McDonald's restaurant in Dukhan, Qatar. Image used with permission (CC BY-SA 3.0; Vincent van Zeijst).​​​​