"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
November 29, 2006

Runaway World: How Globalisation Is Reshaping Our World

In recent weeks I‚Äôve had a number of emails touching on the subject of Globalisation. In a few I‚Äôve made reference to Anthony Gidden‚Äôs 1999 book, Runaway World: How Globalisation Is Reshaping Our World. I recently pulled out of storage and over the next few days I‚Äôm going to work through each chapter as a […]

In recent weeks I’ve had a number of emails touching on the subject of Globalisation. In a few I’ve made reference to Anthony Gidden’s 1999 book, Runaway World: How Globalisation Is Reshaping Our World.

I recently pulled out of storage and over the next few days I‚Äôm going to work through each chapter as a way to reintroduce some ideas about Globalisation and build a support for future posts on the topics. Apparently, there is a slightly revised version now available, but I’ll be looking at original 1999 edition. This book helped me crystalise a lot of ideas and also spun me off into a rich vein of secondary literature. It is far from the final word on globalisation; rather it is a good, concise and provocative introduction.

Despite being written well before 9/11 Runaway World is rather prescient about the directions in which Globalisaion would develop. If anything, the post-9/11 world has confirmed the glocalisation theory (the world is simultaneously becoming more local and more global) that Giddens proposed and which I adopted in my work on the ethics of resentment.

In the next post I will outline the first chapter, which deals with the nature of globalisation and the debates surrounding it. For now, here is a quote from the brief introduction, which sets the tone for the book.

“Globalisation also influences everyday life as much as it does events happening on a world scale. That is why this book includes an extended discussion of sexuality, marriage and the family. In most parts of the world, women are staking claim to greater autonomy than in the past and are entering the labour force in large numbers. Such aspects of globalisation are at least as important as those happening in the global market-place. They contribute to the stresses and strains affecting traditional ways of life and cultures in most regions of the world. The traditional family is under threat, is changing, and will change much further. Other traditions, such as those connected with religion, are also experiencing major transformations. Fundamentalism originates from a world of crumbling traditions.
The battleground of the twenty-first century will pit fundamentalism against cosmopolitan tolerance. In a globalising world, where information and images are routinely transmitted acrosss the globe, we are all regularly in contact with others who think differently, and live differently, from ourselves. Cosmopolitans welcome and embrace this cultural complexity.

Fundamentalists find it disturbing and dangerous. Whether in the areas of religion, ethnic identity or nationalism, they take refuge in a renewed and purified tradition Рand, quite often, violence.”

Runaway World – Introduction
Runaway World – Globalisation
Runaway World – Risk
Runaway World – Tradition
Runaway World – Family
Runaway World – Democracy

[tags] Anthony Giddens, Runaway World [/tags]

Jeremy Ganga 18 years ago

Globalisation is a key issue in London, it is almost tangeble as new immigrants from Eastern Europe continue to pour into the cities of the UK, but not exclusively so. I’ve heard from a number of rural based Church of England Vicars who now have Poles and Lithuanians in their congregations. In the cities the beneficiaries of this migration are the Roman Catholic church and the rich middle classes who can now afford cheap polish nannies. On the other hand it has been quite surprising to hear the Fulham set complain that the Russians, Indians and Chinese are making housing unaffordable for them! The real potential for conflict however, is at the bottom of the scale, where competition for low paid jobs and housing is growing in ever increasing intensity. The incomers are willing to work for low wages therefore depressing wages for everyone and worse still are competing for housing with the indigenous white working class population whose children cannot get social housing in areas their families have often lived in for centuries. There is now proposals to include entitlement and not only need as the two main criteria in order to be housed by local authorities.

Quite startling has been the pace of change in London, there is no telling where things are heading towards. To work out a missiological position in context of this rate of change is really quite difficult. We are just beginning to train our students for cross cultural mission in their own country!!

Fernando Gros 18 years ago

Jeremy, thanks for your comment and perspective from London. It’s no coincidence my thinking shifted towards considering globalisation whilst living there – we see this first and most deeply in Global cities. It is interesting though the rest of England is less and less immune to it.

I’m also glad you pointed out the breadth of the issue at both the upper and lower strata of society. Very good point!

FWIW, my view is that cross-cultural hermeneutics and a foundation in the dynamics of globalisation is essential for anyone training for ministry these days.

Jeremy Ganga 18 years ago

Fernando, I’m quite interested in your last paragraph, care to expand on it? What do you mean by cross-cultural hermeneutics and the dynamics of globalisation. Forgive my ignorance. Thanks

Fernando Gros 18 years ago

Hey Jeremy, dynamics of globalisation simply implies the process of change that both drives globalisation and also results from it. You can track a bit more detail on that in the ongoing review of Gidden’s book, Runaway World.

Cross-cultural hermeneutics, is another way of talking about one’s self-understanding and self-identity in a cosmopolitan context. A big part of that is being able to see the actual diversity in one’s locality. It also involves quite a degree of self-relexivity as well, in being able to see oneself within that, without retreating into localism (or territorialism).

For example, if we look at some emerging bloggers they seem quite apt at interpreting obviously british popular culture, but I don’t, for example, see a lot of commentary on Bollywood films, despite the fact that they readily appear in the UK box office top ten and in terms of themes are ripe for spiritual and theological reflection.

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