Academic journal article International Journal of Comparative Sociology

Introduction

Academic journal article International Journal of Comparative Sociology

Introduction

Article excerpt

IN THIS SPECIAL ISSUE of the IJCS, as co-editor, I invite members of the international community-social scientists, practitioners, authors, our readers, and subscribers, including the authors of these articles-to reflect on a key issue that has preoccupied social and popular movements, states, international and non-governmental organizations, policymakers, and researchers in most of the 20th century, that is, reform movements, reform policies, and reform politics, and their implications.

An important dimension of the 20th century's policy articulation was characterized by various types of reforms in educational sector, and social, technological, and political spheres to respond to either the imperative of globalization, the claims and demands of popular and social classes, or states' search for legitimacy. In most parts of the world, especially in developing countries, governmental and people's expectations have been that reforms rather than radical policy changes in forms of revolution if they were well planned, would be likely to produce more appropriate, acceptable, and "consensual" results in solving people's social, economic, educational, and environmental problems because they are supposed to be gradual in their implementation, and respectful to past policy fabric of a given society. While the above assumption might be relevant and applicable to some cases, this should not be generalized in all cases. It should be noted that in the 20th century, the self-interest and self-motivating ef forts by multinationals in the marketing and spread of communication technologies, global liberalization of the market with its monopolistic tendencies in the processes of production and its advancement of peripheral homogenization of cultures, have engendered many contradictions and tensions in parts of the world among social groupings and between the Global North and the Global South. Debates on the above issues have been centered on efficiency arguments, ethical values, gender discourse, and political considerations of the current development approaches and their meanings in re-defining societies and the world. Who owns and controls those approaches? How have they been formulated and produced? Who really benefits from them? And what should be done to change approaches for the benefit of the majority of the world population? I am convinced that the identification of, and discussion on, the approaches used in articulating reforms and their ramifications are as important as the analysis of reforms itself. Thi s identification will help us deal effectively and appropriately with the questions of why and how we study reforms.

Nations and social groupings have reacted differently to the imperatives of globalization. Demands for different types of reforms have been more popularized. For example, while some nations and social groupings have been struggling to promote land reforms, considering agriculture as the foundation of their development and livelihood, others have perceived human rights as instruments or vital mechanisms of changing society to challenge the "immortality" and selfishness of the nation-state. And some people have claimed their rights to reconstruct new states based on their history, culture, and the past political experiences. As the world trade has become a real global issue, industrialization has been claimed as "universal" point of non-return, and developing nation-state quest for freedom politically from the European colonial politics intensified, the relationship among these phenomena have produced the following characteristics: the globalization of social inequality, the feminization of poverty, the high l evel of environmental abuses by both the extremely poor and extremely rich nations and classes, the increasing gap between gender inequality in access to schooling and public services, and the intensity of people's demands for education, the end of child labor, and social and democratic rights. …

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