Globalization: The Key Concepts

By Thomas Hylland Eriksen | Go to book overview
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Neo-tribal and fundamentalist tendencies, which reflect and articulate the
experience of people on the receiving end of globalization, are as much legitimate
offspring of globalization as the widely acclaimed 'hybridization of top culture
the culture at the globalized top.

Zygmunt Bauman


This book has shown that, in an important sense, the human world is presently more tightly integrated than at any earlier point in history. In the age of the jet plane and satellite dish, the age of global capitalism, the age of ubiquitous markets and transnational mediascapes, it is time and again claimed that the world is rapidly becoming a single place. Yet, a perhaps even more striking development of the postCold War world is the emergence seemingly everywhere of identity politics whose explicit aim is the restoration of rooted tradition, religious fervour or commitment to ethnic or national identities, majoritarian and minoritarian.

I have said, in many different ways, that globalization is always glocal in the sense that human lives take place in particular locations even if they are transnational, on the move, dislocated. Anthropologists have written about the indigenization of modernity (Sahlins 1994), showing how modern artefacts and practices are incorporated into pre-existing worlds of meaning, modifying them somewhat, but not homogenizing them. Many of the dimensions of modernity seen as uniform worldwide, such as bureaucracies, markets, computer networks and human rights discourses, always take on a distinctly local character, not to mention consumption: A trip to McDonald's triggers an entirely different set of cultural connotations in Amsterdam from what it does in Chicago, not to mention Beijing.

Some writers on globalization have argued that the shrinking of the world will almost inevitably lead to a new value orientation, some indeed heralding the coming of a new kind of person (see, for instance, W. T. Anderson 1999). These writers,


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Globalization: The Key Concepts


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