In this article we seek to address 'the experience of work in a global context' by revisiting the relationship between globalisation and information technologies and attributions of local and global effects. We do this through an empirical investigation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, information systems which are purported to enable the institution and the enactment of global business practices. Rather than looking for the metrics that might best demonstrate the shaping influence of global processes upon local work settings - and which would in turn allow talk of such settings becoming more or less globalized - we draw on debates in science and technology studies and in particular the work of Latour in order to re-approach 'the global' as the outcome of a specific set of socio-material knowledge practices. Such an approach allows us to re-situate the analysis of globalization as an emergent, cultural and political phenomenon involving, for example, contestations over the potential and the nature of knowledge, the evaluation of different ways of knowing and the ongoing importance of the embodiment of ideas about the human subject, which we find are being worked out in processes of global (re)organisation.
Hannah Knox, Damian O'Doherty, Theo Vurdubakis and Chris Westrup
Gritt B. Nielsen
In order to prosper as a so-called knowledge society in a global economy, countries worldwide are increasingly emphasising the need to internationalise their higher education institutions and attract the best and brightest students and staff from abroad. This article explores the shifting rationales for internationalisation and how today, based on novel forms of comparability and exchange, a new and highly stratified arena for higher education is developing. By focusing on the conferences and fairs where actors negotiate and position higher education on various scales, not least a global one, the article introduces the core themes of this special issue and presents one possible context for the following articles.
Thomas M. Wilson
Anthropological attention to political and cultural borders has grown considerably over the last twenty years. This has been due in most part to the increasing scholarly attention paid to international and other political borders, in ways that mirror political and economic elites who have continued to place borders centre-stage in their debates on the good and bad effects of globalisation. Once principally the focus of geography, today the study of borders – including their territorial, geophysical, political and cultural dimensions – has become a primary interest across the disciplines due to changing scholarly approaches to such key research subjects and objects as the state, nation, sovereignty, citizenship, migration and the over-arching forces and practices of globalisation.
Strategies and Developments
David P. Shankland and Soraya Tremayne
The consideration of faith and ethnic minorities in the Middle East remains today, as it has been for some time, immensely relevant. In this issue, we see this subject approached from a refreshingly wide perspective. Yet, in spite of their diversity, the topics addressed by the contributors reflect many shared situations in today’s Middle East, and possibly beyond, which often have their roots in mass migration, war and conflict, and globalisation. Through their work, we see once more the way that anthropology is uniquely qualified to reflect upon the reformulation of cultures in the modern world whilst simultaneously highlighting the fate of those who fall between the interstices of dominant political paradigms.
Emerging Kinship in a Changing Middle East
The introduction to this issue has two strands. First, it contextualises the articles, which address kinship from varied perspectives, and situates them in their broader cultural context. Second, it adopts a comparative perspective by differentiating between the present articles with those published a decade earlier on the same themes in this journal, to examine whether, how and to what extent kinship has changed in the face of modernity, globalisation, wars, migrations and political change. It concludes that, compared with a decade ago, kinship has not only not weakened, but it has revived further and penetrated other institutions beyond family, or called upon to ensure and protect the continuity of cultural norms and values, from the threats paused by modernity and by the global, cultural and political invasions.
Social Quality, Values, Convergence and the European Social Model
Unlike the last issue of the European Journal of Social Quality, which dealt entirely with social quality in individual nations, this issue focuses exclusively on the European dimension with particular emphasis on values associated with social quality in both an historical and comparative context. A central question running through several papers relates to convergence: are European societies converging and, if so, then to what are they converging? Is the European Social Model still viable or is the enlarged EU moving inexorably towards a ‘race to the bottom’ in the context of trying to reach the Lisbon goal of becoming the world’s most dynamic and competitive economy in the dog-eat-dog political economy of an unstoppable globalisation?
All communities of practice must face questions relating to the material economic foundations of future sustainable societies. David Graeber, Karl Polanyi and Karl Marx each have produced typologies of possible types of economy, synthesised as: (1) the principle of individual reciprocity, (2) the market principle of capitalism, and (3) the planning principle of the state. I apply this synthesis to recent proposals for community change advanced by Bill McKibben and David Korten concerning economic scale and the re-localising of production and consumption sundered by globalisation, focused on the local exchange and trading system (LETS). The operationalising of LETS draws upon Adam Smith’s view of markets as face-to-face exchanges of goods taking place in small morality-bound communities. Smith, McKibben and Korten conflate two different meanings of the term ‘exchange’. To understand the role LETS may play in future sustainable economies in communities of practice demands treatment of this problem.
(And Why Wile E. Coyote Never Catches Roadrunner)
Over the last five years or so, we have witnessed increasing forms of violence and unrest across the world. In the media, these depictions are presented as actions of resistance to oppressive regimes and corrupt politics, yet are, at the same time, deliberately detached from a global politik which is collapsing in numerous ways: the manifestations evident in market instability, and increasing austerity, unemployment and social inequality; a sign perhaps that the orgy of globalisation is reaching its climax. Some of all this was reflected in what we saw across English cities during the summer of 2011 and in this article, I discuss these riots and why they might have happened and the State response. Perhaps more importantly, I show how they should be reconsidered alongside other forms of violence and dissatisfaction against oppressive regimes and corrupt politics as a collective response to a global system on the brink of collapse as a result of its never-ending pursuit of rampant profit at the expense of millions of people. I relate this fruitless quest of profit to Wile E. Coyote’s incessant pursuit of Roadrunner.