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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Globalization and Culture by John Tomlinson 
10th-Feb-2008 11:59 pm
Tomlinson, John. Globalization and Culture. Cambridge: Polity, 1999.
          Summary: In this monograph, John Tomlinson produces an introductory overview of globalization that argues for the centrality of culture in its theorization. He defines globalization as "complex connectivity,"the rapidly developing and ever-densening network of interconnections and interdependencies that characterize modern social life."
          Comments: Though Tomlinson's discussion of a wide range of theories and issues of globalization, such as cultural imperialism, deterritorialization, mediated communication across national borders, hybridity, and cosmopolitanism, his own theory of "complex connectivity" is most deeply indebted to the work on modernity of British sociologist Anthony Giddens. (I suppose I shouldn't be surprised; note who published this book.) Using Giddens' notion of forms of interaction divorced from a shared time-space, he argues that globalization is a consequence of an accelerating modernity. As such, the global is primarily experienced not when we get on an airplane and take a trip, but whenever we do anything right in our own homes--it is a function of everyday life.
          I don't think there is an overarching name for the common intellectual stances that Giddens and his fellow British sociologists such as John Thompson employ...but there should be. Might I propose "Cambridge School"? It's gotten to the point now--Yay me!--that I can accurately guess where their theories are going to go before I read them. Then tend to favor universalizing, conservativism, the agency of the individual, and anti-paranoia when it comes to the quality of social interaction in modern societies generally. Personally, I find their theories compelling...if not entirely convincing. I don't entirely trust the notion that we have exactly as much control as we think we do. Ah well. At least Tomlinson takes pains not to ignore global inequalities.
          Notes: trade paperback, 1st edition
          Rating: 5/10 - A reasonably good introduction to the relationships between globalization and culture. But it's definitely not going to hold much interest for the casual reader.

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