Last Updated on October 4, 2022 by Karl Thompson
Selected definitions of key terms for A-level sociology students studying globalisation and global development.
Where American culture and values erodes traditional local cultures gradually replacing them. A term associated with global pessimism, it isn’t usually regarded as something positive!
An economic system in which the means of production are owned in common and wealth distributed according to need.
where people or societies are tolerant of other people’s or societies’ ways of life and values; this is one of the positive consequences of globalisation as people increasingly come into contact with other ways of life and make an effort to enter into dialogue with diverse cultures and find ways to ‘live together’. Related concepts include reflexivity and detraditionalisation. The opposite of cosmopolitanism is fundamentalism.
The movement of ideas, attitudes, meanings, values and cultural products across national borders.
The emergence of a new cultural form out of two or more existing ones, leaving both forms changed without erasing the old.
Removing restrictions on businesses, for example reducing health and safety regulations.
Where people have increasing choice about whether to stick to traditional ways of life; traditions become less stable as people increasingly question their traditional beliefs about religion, marriage, and gender roles and so on.
The global expansion of international capitalism, free markets and the increase in international trade.
(Fatalistic Response to Globalisation) – the view that the world is powerless to resist globalisation.
Global Commodity Chains
Where networks of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services becomes increasingly stretched across the globe. The making of the physical products tends to be done in poorer countries, whereas the branding and marketing, tend to be done in the richer countries.
Global Risk Consciousness
where people in different countries are increasingly aware of and affected by international threats such as terrorism, nuclear war and global warming. There are two elements to risk consciousness (it pulls in two directions) – one is that we are more fearful and wish to ‘retreat’ from such problems and the other is that we are increasingly brought together in our attempts to overcome such threats.
The increasing interconnectedness and inter-dependency of the world’s nations and their people into a single global, economic, political and global system.
Where people in developing countries select aspects of western culture and adapt them to their particular needs – associated with Transformationalism and critical of the pessimist theory that globalisation results in Americanisation.
Thomas Friedman’s term for the neoliberal policies countries must adopt if they are to experience economic growth and prosperity.
Global pessimist who believes neoliberal policies primarily benefits wealthy countries and harm developing countries; referred to the WTO, World Bank and IMF as the ‘unholy trinity’.
Things becoming increasingly the same; in global terms, the erosion of local cultures and the emergence of one global mono-culture.
Hybridised Global Identities
Where identities are increasingly a result of picking and mixing from different cultural traditions around the globe; implies more individual freedom to choose identity and greater diversity; associated with transformationalist theories of globalisation.
The belief that globalisation is happening and that local cultures are being eroded primarily because of the expansion of international capitalism and the emergence of a homogenous global culture; believe that globalisation is a positive process characterised by economic growth, increasing prosperity and the spread of democracy.
Where one dominant country takes over and controls another country or countries.
A pessimist globalist who believes that globalisation is a ‘declaration of war’ upon local cultures as the expansion of western culture around the world destroys local cultures and reduces cultural diversity.
A form of rationalisation through which the principles of efficiency and predictability come to dominate more and more spheres of social life.
Refers specifically to the spread of McDonalds’ restaurants throughout the world; and more generally to the process of Mcdonaldisation which underpins this – i.e. the increasing standardisation of corporate products and the emergence of a global, Americanised monoculture.
A set of right wing economic policies which reduce the power of governments and give more freedom to private enterprise – the three main neoliberal policies are deregulation, privatisation and lowering taxation.
The process where the sovereignty of nation states is reduced due to the increasing power of International Institutions, such as the United Nations.
Post Industrial Economy
An economy in which the service sector generates more wealth than the manufacturing of physical products. In such an economy more people will be employed in sectors such as leisure, education, business/ finance, and creative industries rather than in manufacturing.
A globalised society with the following characteristics: a technologically advanced, mainly post-industrial service sector economy, high levels of consumption, lots of individual freedom to shape identities through consumption, and correspondingly high levels of cultural diversity; media-saturation and hyperreality; high levels of insecurity and uncertainty.
The transfer of publicly (state) owned enterprises to private sector companies.
Groups of people and/ or organisations who aim to help oppressed groups overcome oppression or change society in some way, believed to be beneficial. Global social movements involve co-operation of people across national borders, and their aims may sometimes clash with those of some national governments.
An optimist globalist who believes that the world wide adoption of neoliberal policies by governments have resulted in economic globalisation, more trade between nations and increasing prosperity for all.
Where the world ‘feels smaller’ as we are able to communicate with people in faraway places more instantaneously.
A theory which holds that globalisation is a complex process involving a number of different two-way exchanges between global institutions and local cultures; it can be reversed and controlled.
An international organization formed in 1945 to increase political and economic cooperation among member countries. The organization works on economic and social development programs, improving human rights and reducing global conflicts (source: Investovepida).
Refers to information based/ electronic products such as computer software, films and music, and information and financial services rather than actual tangible, physical goods such as food, clothing or cars. Such products can be produced, bought and sold much more rapidly than traditional, physical products, and thus trade in them is much more rapid, hence the term ‘weightless economy’.
Signposting and Related Posts
Globalisation is one of the most important key concepts within the A-level sociology specification (AQA), and is specified explicitly as a topic which students must be able to understand, explain and evaluate.
It is especially fundamental to the second year Global Development module but students also need to be able to apply the concept to all other areas of sociology – such as education, the family and crime.
NB most students do not study the Global Development module (Beliefs in Society is a much more popular choice), but it is only within Global Development that you are going to look at the concept in real depth, which is why I advise sociology teachers to offer this option over Beliefs.
For the Global Development option related posts include:
Factors Contributing to Globalisation (Giddens)