Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Global; Institution, Process, Discursive practice and Imaginary

To understand the Globalization first we must define the primary word ‘global’. The Merriam Webster dictionary[1] define the adjective word ‘global’ as spherical, relating to, or involving the entire world; worldwide; and also relating to, or applying to a whole. Furthermore Jan arte Scholte[2], describe the condition of being global or globality by differing it with other similar concepts. Thus the rise of supraterritoriality of social relations among people, gives global-ness a distinctive meaning. Next, we can move on to understand the global as an institution, a process, a discursive practice and as an imaginary.

The Global as an institution

Saskia Sassen[3] argued that Globalization transcends the exclusive framing of national states yet partly inhabits national territories. Globalization figure includes the post sovereignty governance, where state is remain important in governance, but their several attributes had shifted. This is mean the state system framing is inadequate, Kuper[4] underlined the multilateral system based on state system is simply not designed to meet some of the major challenges that now confront our world. But there are reconfiguration within the state system. Sassen argued that state practice entail a partial denationalizing consist of reorientation of national agendas towards global agendas, and the circulation of private agendas inside the state apparatus. This reconfiguration gradually diffused power within the state. Furthermore, Scholte[5] see the rise of supraterritoriality has multilayered governance to the state, substate and suprastate agencies. Those three agencies relate to each other and is a part of the global governance.

Global Institution entails a notion of regime, regulation and governance that involving the entire world, by its membership or influence. To see it that way, Scholte[6] categorized three types of institution based on the constituency; firstly, intergovernmental organization such as United Nations, World Trade Organization, European Union. But the multilateral intergovernmental system is insufficient. In this issue, Kuper suggest the non state actors given new forms of power, responsibility and mutual accountability.

That led for the other two type of global institution; transplanetary informal governance and regulation, and also the multi stakeholder global governance. Many rule and regulation in the world influence by transplanetary informal governance such as the G8, OECD, ASEM. And the governance also took place outside the public sector such as internet regime by ICANN, or the world fair trade organization.

Last is the combination of the actors between governmental and non governmental or the multi stakeholder global institution, such as the World Economic forum, where government, NGO and the business sector meets and creates influential policy. That is to say the tools of global governance is exist despite its deficit and flaws. Promoting stronger global governance is a necessary to tackle global challenges the world have.

The Global as a process

There are few perspectives can be used to grasp the process of globalization. Scholte[7] that saw globalization as configuration of social spaces, argued that globalization drivers unfolded in structuration process that involving the structural forces and actor initiatives. The structural force includes rationalist knowledge and capitalist production. And the actor initiatives are technological development and regulatory measurements.

Furthermore, he also argued that in return, globalization has been a powerful social change, corresponding with those drivers. The rise of superterritoriality had caused shift in the capitalism as the predominant mode of production. Second, also has yielded new forms of bureaucratism as the strongest underlying framework of governance. Third, transworld networks had created new collective solidarity, on a pattern of communitarian identity politics. Last, it has encouraged shifts within rationalism, but not a full scale reconstruction. Thus, I would say that globalization is a dual process in terms of causality, both created by several force and in return, influencing those force.

Another explanatory exercise based on Structuration between the local and the global is Sassen. Sassen[8] argued that there are process of global structurations inside national domains. First consists of endogenizing or the localizing of global dynamics; secondly, it consists of formations which although global are articulated with particular actors, cultures, or projects, producing an object of study that requires negotiation between the global and the local. Third, consists of denationalizing frame of national construction that needed to be decoded. Here I need to underline the importance of diffusing level of analysis from the bias state centric framing.

Some scholar analyze the global process based on social spatiality instead of state interaction. Eriksen[9] said that globalization is dual and operates through dialectical negation: it shrinks the world by facilitating fast contact across former boundaries, and it expands the world by creating an awareness of difference. It homogenizes human lives by imposing a set of common denominators, but also leads to heterogenization through the new form of diversity emerging from the intensified contact. It also centripetal in that it connects peoples worldwide; and it is centrifugal in that it inspires a heightened awareness of, and reconstruction of local uniqueness. It also makes universalist cosmopolitanism and encourage fundamentalism because global integration led to alienation threatening identities and sovereignity. This complex process of simoultaneus duality begets global challenges such as identity based conflict.

All in all in analyzing the process of being the global, we need to recognize diffusing level of analysis, multi scalar, in a wide sphere of relations, multi perspectives. For instance is the usage of discursive practice to grasp a deeper meaning of globalization.

The Global as a discursive practice

Thomas Risse[10] remind us that to understand and explain globalization, we need to take word, languages and communicative utterances seriously. Because by discursive practices, we acknowledge our self to be in a subject position made available by the ongoing discursive context when we impose meaning upon something. Risse continued by categoring two ways in which study of communicative practices might contribute to understand the global; first, focus on arguing and reason giving as an agency-centered mode of interaction, which enables actor to challenge the validity claims inherent in any causal or normative statement and to seek a communicative consensus about their understanding of the situation as well as their justification for the norms and principles guiding their action. By making it possible to be persuaded by better arguments, the goal is not to attain fixed preferences, but to seek reasoned consensus. Second is process of meaning construction allowing for certain interpretation while excluding others and focus on discursive practices as means by which power relationships are established and maintained.

Sassen[11] used this perspectives to challenges the dominant national state framing in capturing social realities such as globalization. She argued that we need to recognized that what has been represented (oftenly reified) as the scale of the national, contains a simultaneity of scales, spaces, and relations, some national, some denationalizing or in process of becoming so, and some global. Nevertheless, it is to say, because of new communication capabilities, localities can constitute multi-scalar systems operating horizontally across borders and not merely scaling upward. Beside the multi scalar, discursive practice can be used to challenge the meaning and discourse of ‘globalization’ word.

Victor Li[12], criticized the usage of the word ‘globalization’ to picture the current phenomena. Because globalization has dominantly associated with the market integration that makes the world into a single space through capital influence, that will eventually lead to a better-capitalist world worth to live. Meanwhile contradictions and inconsistencies arose such as poverty, social exclusion, violence, inequality that clearly indicates globalization does not work fully for plenty of people around the world. Thus the agencies left behind by globalization should challenge the concept and forget about ‘globalization’ and create new concept more useful for them. Thus I will argue that the exercise of discursive practice will open possibilities for actors to challenge dominant meaning and gradually impose new meaning that will led to better consensus.

The Global as an imaginary

Scholte[13] underlined that in terms of planet as a single place, globality can be traced back to many centuries. Earth as a single place is latent in knowledge known as world religion. To name a few but not limited to; Zoroasther, Buddhism, Jews, Christianity, and Islam, were all appeals for world as one single place uniting the people with faith. Furthermore, secular global thinkers arose for example starting in the 14th century, where Dubois and Dante plead for suprastate umbrella for Christendom.

But the material global relations began to developed since the middle of the nineteenth century following the rise of the communication technology, the consolidations of global markets, some elements of global finance, and a degree of globality in certain organizations. This material development helped spreading the global thinking to wider audiences. Furthermore, the accelerated rise of supraterritoriality has occurred since 1960’s. The pace and expansions of the social and economic relations has become quantitatively and qualitatively greater. Hikes of telephone connections, increase of market integration, intensification of finance tools, rising numbers of global organizations, awareness of depleting human ecology. Thus, global consciousness rapidly rose.

Chris Brown[14], described the phenomena of trends pointing towards the emergence of one world by development of ever wider common interests and a deepening sense of common identity. And he advocate the idea that we need an international society or world community based on the recognition of general duty to relieve suffering by mutual aid and assistance. One important point by Eriksen[15], is that human rights ideas and practices proliferation was one success story of forwarding the global imagination. First established as a global ethics when the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the human rights invoked frequently in politics both at all level; domestic, local, transnational level worldwide.

To conclude I would say that globalization understanding varied, thus it can be addressed using multi scalar approach instead a general single framing, multi perspectives, multi disciplinary, multi and crosscutting level analysis. But bear in mind that the process of imposing meaning towards globalization is still an ongoing process such as globalization it self. Thus, it is a challenge of updating exercise to grasp the ongoing process.

[1] Global, available at [accessed 28 Oct 2009]

[2] Scholte, Jan A., 2005. Globalization – A Critical Introduction, p.41, Palgrave, Macmillan. Available at [accessed at 27 Okt 2009]

[3] Sassen, Saskia, ”The Places and Spaces of the Global: An Expanded Analytical Terrain”,p.79-99, in David Held & Anthony Mcgrew (eds.),2007, Globalization Theory: Approaches and Controversies. Cambridge, Polity press.

[4] Kuper, Andrew, Reconstructing Global Governance: Eight Innovations, p.225, in David Held & Anthony Mcgrew (eds.),2007, Globalization Theory: Approaches and Controversies. Cambridge, Polity press.

[5] Scholte, Jan A., 2005. Globalization – A Critical Introduction, p.46, Palgrave, Macmillan. Available at [accessed at 27 Okt 2009]

[6] Scholte, Jan A, Lecture notes on the “Building Global Democracy? Civil Society and Accountable Global Governance” Conference on Globalization and Development, University of Gothenburg, 29 Oct 2009.

[7] Scholte, Jan A., 2005. Globalization – A Critical Introduction, p.89, Palgrave, Macmillan. Available at [accessed at 27 Okt 2009]

[8] Sassen, Saskia, ”The Places and Spaces of the Global: An Expanded Analytical Terrain”,p.99, in David Held & Anthony Mcgrew (eds.),2007, Globalization Theory: Approaches and Controversies. Cambridge, Polity press.

[9] Eriksen, Thomas Hylland, 2007. “Re-embeding”, p.142, in Globalization: The Key Concepts. Berg.

[10] Risse, Thomas, “Social Constructivism meets Globalization”, p.131, in David Held & Anthony Mcgrew (eds.),2007, Globalization Theory: Approaches and Controversies. Cambridge, Polity press.

[11] Sassen, Saskia, ”The Places and Spaces of the Global: An Expanded Analytical Terrain”,p.79-99, in David Held & Anthony Mcgrew (eds.),2007, Globalization Theory: Approaches and Controversies. Cambridge, Polity press.

[12] Li, Victor, 2000. “What’s in a Name?: Questioning ‘Globalization’” in Cultural

Critique. 45:1-39. Available at [accessed at 20 Sept 2009]

[13] Scholte, Jan A., 2005. Globalization – A Critical Introduction, p.104, Palgrave, Macmillan. Available at [accessed at 27 Okt 2009]

[14] Brown, Chris, “The Idea of World Community,” p.460, in David Held & Anthony Mcgrew (eds.), 2000, The Global Transformations reader; an introduction to the globalization debate. Cambridge, Polity press.

[15] Eriksen, Thomas Hylland, 2007. “Standardization”, p.64, in Globalization: The Key Concepts. Berg.

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