Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Second Note on Globalization

One aspect of globalization, however, that should be taken seriously is the way in which innovative forms of informational dissemination through associational interaction create the means by which actors become embedded in abstract organizational fields of taken-granted-for models of social action. According this logic, iinstitutionalised ‘myths’ (Meyer & Rowan, 1977), or ‘cognitive scripts’ (Meyer et. al, 1997), define, in highly standardized fashion, as exemplified by the mission statements of globally accepted INGO’s (Meyer et. al, 1997; Boli & Thomas, 1997), properties, structures, and perceived limitations of understood rights, duties, and expectations, delineating how actors should ‘legitimately’ act in world affairs.

On the surface, this ‘constructivist’ emphasis on intersubjectivity regards social action in the international political economy as purposive; it is bounded by differentiating aspects of a ‘general ethos’, which creates the space, opportunity, and impulse for actors to engage the world per a ‘sacred canopy’ of universalized responsibilities, norms if you will, which, in the final instance, manufacture an ‘imagined community’ of ‘world citizenship’ (Boli & Thomas, 1997).

The implication is that actors are treated not as mere brutish ‘givens’, but as non-predetermined social entities motivated by enveloping frames of structurated meaning in a Goffmanian game of perceivance and interpretation, emphasizing dramaturgical processes in place of preconceived Weberian instrumental rationality (Meyer et. al, 1997). This allows for a conception of collective action in the world economy not as a problem of psychologically reductionist selfishness, but as a process of self definition, constituting a world society, sot so speak, of mutual recognition. How else could one explain the seemingly transcendental metaphysical essence of notions of equality, justice, and human welfare?

From a critical perspective, however, we can determine that such globalization as the formulation of a global collective social conscientiousness, in the Durkheimian sense, is resolutely a form of what anthropologist Allen Feldman terms 'cultural anesthesia'. The mass dissemination of globalized knowledge is based on techniques that mold subject and perception, whereby the senses are essentially commodified and stratified; that is, a 'magical realism' is fabricated that binds the material domain to aspects of what Marx described as 'commodity fetishism, such that the underlying relations that give rise to manifest phenomena are denied recognizable sentience and historical possibility.

In this sense, globalization is what sociologist George Ritzer calls 'McDonaldization,' the erection of a universal Weberian Iron Cage of intellectual colonization, which soothes the mind, body, and soul in order to deny the individual the capacity to critically untangle objective reality,  so as to be swept into a flummox of superficial mutual political agency, what Gramsci expounded as a bourgeois Weltanschauung.

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