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In combining these elements of critical thinking with connections between power, politics, representation and space, Slater emphasizes the importance of geopolitics. In this context he stresses that the territorial state still constitutes the most visible and organized site of political action in the world and that differences between nation states are therefore important and should be made visible.

Although this latter point of view is refreshing, given the avalanche of neoliberal globalization literature, where space seems to have been deleted from the analytical landscape, it is not surprising that, being a geographer, Slater takes this point of view.

11 editions of this work

This line of reasoning is then continued in a subsequent chapter which provides a useful overview of the role of legitimating development discourses employed within an emerging Washington Consensus. This observation is then elaborated in subsequent chapters where Slater extensively refers to Latin American authors to discuss the arguments for and against the use- fulness of post-modern thought in comparison to post-colonial and post-structural approaches to current development research.

Especially useful are the references to Gramsci in relation to the construction of a post-colonial and post-structuralist critical analysis of development and underdevelopment. Slater by far prefers a post-colonial to a post-modern approach as a mode of analysis of the geopolitics of knowledge. The next two chapters deal with post-colonial questions and social movements, the Zap- atistas and the dynamics of globalization from below.

The final chapter contains a number of conclusions which are inspiring for those in search of renewing critical development research. Surely Slater will be reprimanded for having focused above all on the imperialist relations between the US and Latin America.

This is an important point that Slater makes, seen in the context of renewing critical theory — that there should be more attention paid to actors. In the past, critical theory has perhaps focused too much upon political, economic and cultural structures and too little on actors. This could very well have been a major cause for the stagnation in renewing critical theory. Exactly which actors the critical theorists should then focus upon is not a pre-determined structural fact, but has to be reconstructed depending on which aspect of geopolitical relations between North and South we are looking at.

It is specifically the reflexive and open-minded way in which Slater analyses post-colonial thinking in relation to geopolitics that makes this a very inspiring work.

Reference Hardt, M. Negri Empire. Frans J.

Political Ecology A Critical Introduction 2nd Edition Critical Introductions to Geography

E-mail: f. London and New York: Zed Books, Todd Sandler, Global Collective Action. Global Collective Action is notable among these studies for its rather old-fashioned and top-down approach to understanding global processes of collective action. Yet it represents a real effort by a serious economist to grapple with questions of globalization and market failure, and is worth including and reading for that reason. His account, whilst firmly rooted in the Indian context, includes enough of a global scope and perspective to appeal more widely. There are also reversals in the process. The emphasis in each chapter is on finding mechanisms to overcome market failures of various kinds, including free rides.

The problem is a lack of attention to other perspectives, particularly critical and NGO voices. Applying risk analysis, for instance, to war in Iraq, produces strange results. What is certain is that attention to the question of global social justice movements is both timely and important. In recent years, many international research organizations, including UNRISD, have been paying much greater attention to global social justice movements, as their visibility has increased exponentially.

This visibility arises both from technological changes and on-the-ground realities, in both South and North.


A recent major empirical study edited by Della Porta and Tarrow on the transnational protest movement and activism, grounded new theories of global social action in empirical reality. Involving large-scale surveys of social justice activists mainly in Europe the study drew some interesting conclusions. First, it found that most justice movements involved people who were deeply rooted in older social organizations, especially trade unions, faith-based organizations and political parties.

In the years after the end of the Cold War, it seemed obvious to almost everyone that more room was opening up for redefining and reasserting democracy and human rights Olesen, pp. Even the war on terror and the Manichean politics of good and evil regimes have not managed to close down new democratic and rights-focused spaces. It is perhaps clearer in Latin America than elsewhere that the ideological and economic battles of the Cold War are far from over. It is also in this region that democracy was redefined during rather than after the Cold War.

The Porto Alegre Alternative shows that from the s, organized public demands for services in the growing slums of Brazilian cities resulted in election of the Brazilian Workers Party PT first at municipal levels in the late s. After two introductory chapters by the editor, Ubiratan de Souza shows how participatory budgeting PB was scaled-up from municipal to state levels; also included as chapters are speeches at the World Social Forums of and by Raul Pont, former mayor of Porto Alegre — and collaborator of de Souza.

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That makes this book interesting as a record of a certain era from a specific trotskyist perspective. Analysis of PB is rather thin, and the book is a bit roughly put together, but this does not detract from its value as a record of a certain era and outlook that has considerable pedagogic value.

Both Olesen and McDonald conceive of social change as stochastic, unpredictable and subject to forms of logic not easily reducible to competing or converging interests or identities. Instead time, relational values and new technologies that help forge more complex multi-level forms of action are critical elements. Each chapter is clearly presented, and existing social science concepts are used and refreshed at each turn. Olesen writes very well, and the book is unusually readable as well as theoretically sophisticated.

Olesen carefully builds up a theoretically informed picture of the transnational Zapatista solidarity network that took off after What comes across from Giri, Olesen and McDonald equally is that one of the defining features of the global justice movements is that ends and means merge.

Olesen considers how transnational framing of justice issues can mobilize huge support and inspire actions across multiple boundaries, making civil society the goal of democracy, and no longer just the means to another, greater end p. This book will be fascinating for anyone who has ever taken part in direct action or engaged with global movements, in whatever way.

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What McDonald does well is to include the way in which this engagement can be transformational at the personal level. He also has interesting things to say about the theatricality and corporality of protest and public action; and he looks at the use of massive puppets in protests and actions as an expression of both.

Globalization: A Critical Introduction by Jan Aart Scholte

In this study there is no search for patterns; rather there is an emphasis on uniqueness and connectedness simultaneously. The experiential approach and the economistic one, represented in turn by McDonald and Giri, and by Sandler, never do meet. Otherwise what emerges from these three authors read together is a large degree of shared understanding, with some differences in language and expression. These are their shared insights, among others.

In this world, truths overlap, connect, compete and come together, and those who disagree can still listen and work to- gether. Somewhere between rationalistic science and transcendental enlightenment, comes prag- matism, embodied in the technologies of collaboration and shifting alliances that run through global action for social and economic justice.


Working in the here and now to try and im- prove situations framed as unjust is as important as understanding where we are going, in other words. Of the books reviewed, it is the synthetic and theoretically informed works of Olesen and McDonald that seem most novel to me.

Each in its own way pushes us into rethinking what we mean by transnational or global movements, by power, by organization and by action. Each in its own way proposes more flexible and yet theoretically strongly rooted ways of understanding what is happening around us as we organize ourselves to respond to new, less visible threats of globalization, taking advantage of new technologies, in particular.

Della Porta and S. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, The first edition of this book was published in , when strong sentiments and opinion against neoliberal globalization were gradually shaping up. However, the authors make it clear that they use the existing categories, with modifications whenever necessary, to analyse social movements. Second, it examines the way social movements are represented culturally.

Finally, social movements are posited in the social, cultural and political contexts. Accordingly, a broad range of issues related to social movements is addressed in the next eight chapters. The authors look at the changes in social structure through transformation in the economic and political spheres: growth of the service sector at the expense of the industrial sector as well as the situation of the state — caught in the middle of globalization, localization and multidimensional social demands.

The authors also note that identifying the actors relevant to a social issue is quite a contentious matter. The next chapter deals with the process and role of identity formation in collective action in detail. Individuals become part of collective action through social networks, which play an important role in their mobilization, participation and learning of political skills.

Culture also becomes an important factor in supplying psychological traits necessary for sustaining the movement. The most important chapter analyses the organizational factor: mobilizing membership and resources; providing co-ordination; and establishing identity of social movements.

The authors also note that social movements get institutionalized into political parties or interest groups.

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  8. Still, these points need further detailed investigation. The role of protest is discussed in detail in the next chapter. It analyses the way violence is used in social movements and its ill effects. This addition is particularly welcome, because such an important dimension has received scant attention in analysing social movements. Finally, the multidimensional situations in which social movements relate to democracy are examined.