Globalization, a key concept in our modern and postmodern discourse, is a highly contentious term that continues to generate endless debates about its form and consequences on our societies. Anthony Giddens (1999) professes that while the term is “not particularly attractive or an elegant one, absolutely no one who wants to understand our prospects and possibilities can ignore it.” While many agree that it denotes the occurrence of social change, there is, however, less agreement what these changes may be and whether they, in effect, represent the transition of one form of society to another (i.e., the industrial to the postindustrial or information society). Nevertheless, the increase in the volume of discourses surrounding the term is significant in illuminating that the increased interdependence of the world can lead to new forms of challenges, concerns, empowerment, and resistance with the symbolic and material exchanges of ideas, products, and services, as well as the formation of social networks (Castells, 1998). Castells (1996, 2000, 2001), in his numerous reflections on the network society, asserts that since the 1980s, a new economy has emerged that is global, information-based, and interconnected. This new form of economy remains capitalist in form but is situated on an informational rather than an industrial form of development; at the core of the informational mode of development are networks contributing to a network society.
While globalization is a relatively a new concept that has gained much currency and controversy in the last two to three decades, the idea of high-speed transport and communications in some ways altering our social reality in terms of the construction of the temporal or social space is not in itself a new idea. There is an abundance of references in literary texts and historical annals to human interaction and concepts of geography being negotiated through technological innovations. In literary fiction, specifically, the future is often imaged through the advances in technology that prophesy degrees of technological determinism on human society. There have been references to a global economy through industrialization and technological innovations dating back from 1870 to 1914 (See Kobrin). Marshall McLuhan’s (1964) concept of the “global village” constructed the notion of a world community brought about by communication technologies and, consequently, technical biases, he argues, were intrinsic to our cognitive constructions of reality.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Digital Divide: The separation between the information rich, or haves, and information poor, or have-nots.
Postindustrial Society: The transition from the industrial society will lead to a postindustrial society characterised by increasing emphasis on global connectivity and capitalisation of information.
Information Society: The transition from the modern and industrial age in which modes of production, exchange, and social capital are increasingly defined through information
ICTs: Information and communication technologies, seen as the driving force of globalization and new forms of connectivity.
MNCs or Multinational Corporations: In the age of globalization, MNCs have an increasing role in global economies, flow of capital, and in the formation of strategic economic and global alliances.
Network society: The rise of information society will see the emergence of a network society in which information and technology will enable the formation of networks and strategic planning.
Globalization: The integration of the world through a complex set of social, economic, political, technical and cultural processeses