Globalization: The Key Concepts

By Thomas Hylland Eriksen | Go to book overview

7 VULNERABILITY

We joined Europe to have free movement of goods … I did not join Europe to
have free movement of terrorists, criminals, drugs, plant and animal diseases and
rabies and illegal immigrants.

Margaret Thatcher


INTRODUCTION

The terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 signalled a new phase in the public awareness of what globalization was about. The upbeat optimism of the 1990s, when globalization was above all associated with the Internet, political freedom, individualism and democracy among intellectuals and the general public alike was suddenly replaced by a heightened awareness of globalization as a volatile, anarchic and dangerous state: it signalled the loss of control. While freedom, seen as an individual right, had been the main template for globalization in the 1990s, its close relative, insecurity, now came to the forefront.

Although people may in a traditional past have been no more secure in their lives than we are — in many cases they were far less secure — at least they tended to belong to a community by default. Nobody challenged their group membership, whether it was based on kin, religion or locality; they knew who to turn to in times of need and scarcity, and they had a clear notion of the moral universe within which they lived. When contemporary social theorists speak of our era as somehow more insecure than the past, this is roughly what they tend to have in mind. Zygmunt Bauman's concept liquid modernity (Bauman 2000) concerns the floating, shifting qualities of values and social structure in our era; Ulrich Beck's risk society (Beck 1992 [1986]) refers not to increased objective risks, but a heightened awareness of risks; and Anthony Giddens's term post-traditional society (Giddens 1991) describes a society where a tradition can no longer be taken for granted, but must actively be defended vis-à-vis its alternatives, which now appear realistic.

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Globalization: The Key Concepts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Disembedding 15
  • 2: Acceleration 33
  • 3: Standardization 51
  • 4: Interconnectedness 69
  • 5: Movement 91
  • 6: Mixing 107
  • 7: Vulnerability 123
  • 8: Re-Embedding 141
  • Questions for Essays and Class Discussion 155
  • Annotated Guide for Further Reading 159
  • General Bibliography 163
  • Index 171
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