Students:2009/2010 student themes
Please write your introductory paragraph directly under your name.
Your work (collaborative in later stages ) will be focused on the Globalisation process and risks associated with it (not only global risks, but also those that you face in your everyday life). So the introductory paragraph should introduce the theme of Global risk society somehow; it could anticipate your future theme if you have already decided what it will be. Please keep in mind that you should coordinate your work so that the final product is homogenous; those who will take the lead in choosing the theme will have an advantage!
After you have decided on the title of your essay, you can write it in brackets: ]] [[ in reverse order (My new theme XY). Thus, you will start a new page - and you can continue your writing there.
List of possible sub-themes for the Global Risk Society theme
Jule Kathinka Plawitzki
There are lots of, more or less theoretical, definitions of globalization, for example: “Globalization (…) can be thought of as the widening, intensifying, speeding up, and growing impact of world-wide interconnectedness.” (Held, McGrew, Goldblatt & Perrat, 2008, p. 2). This phenomenon is accompanied by a wide range of positive as well as negative consequences for humanity in general, society and the environment. One example of an abstract description of the consequences for society was mainly coined by the socialist Ulrich Beck in the mid eighties: The risk-society. When the past was characterized by difficulties of a just distribution of wealth, today in this “second, reflexive modernity” (Gane, 2001, p. 83) the production of wealth comes with the production of risks: It is no longer only a distribution of wealth, as well as a distribution of risks (cf. Gane, 2001, p. 83). A second change related to the distribution of risks is the decreasing of the importance of borders: On the one hand the result of an event takes place in another part of the world and on the other hand a small local event can cause a global reaction (cf. Held et. al., 2008, p. 2). There are lots of economical, social and cultural examples for these phenomena. Because the following text will mainly focus on the enviromental issue, the given example is the climate change, facing Copenhagen, probably the most popular one right now. This risk is caused by the production of wealth and will, at least in the beginning, mainly effect the “undeveloped countries”, but furthermore as well the globalization in general (cf. Curtis, 2007). Further examples are decreasing biodiversity, pollution of atmosphere, oceans, soil etc. Facing these complex environmental problems national states and multilateral contracts are important- but obviously not powerful enough. Held et. al. point out that there is no institution “able to amass sufficient political power, domestic support or international authority to do more than limit the worst excesses of some of these enviromental threats” (Held et. al., 2008, p. 9). That is why there is the discussion about a World Environment Organization. The following text will discuss the potential of such a global environmental governance, facing global environmental problems. Therefore first the idea of such an organization especially related to the UNEP will be presented, second arguments for and against this approach will be described and in the end a prospect of the future will be given.
- Marta Potenza
Globalisation – boon or bane?
Globalisation is an ambiguous term which is defined in different manners. It depends on what aspects are considered (politics, economics or environment), who’s the editor of the definition (a detractor of globalisation or a supporter) and which period is contemplated (past, present or future). But a fact is that everyone is affected by globalisation. With all its assets and drawbacks, all opportunities and problems, globalisation is an “uncontrolled process” (Mezřický, V.: The nature of globalisation. Global actors and driving forces, 2006) divided in “widening, intensifying, speeding up and growing impact of world-wide interconnectedness” (Held, D.; McGrew, A.: Globalization. Entry for Oxford Companion to Politics).
Several circumstances could be seen as the decisive factors for the beginning of globalisation. One of these factors was the “deregulation of dependency of national currencies on the dollar [...] in 1971 – 1973” (Mezřický 2006). The new system of free-floating exchange rates combined with the oil crisis in 1973 “led to the establishment of multinational corporations” (Mezřický 2006). New possibilities were given such as the split-up of manufacturing processes and the collaboration with other countries. Profit maximisation and asset formation became first priority. Since then, many changes were noticeable. New national organisations were founded, open boarders made travelling as easy as never before, the internet was invented so that getting information about any topic became possible for everyone. But there are also negative features of globalisation.
According to J.Rosenau, “the era of national states has passed” (Mezřický 2006). The cause is in international organisations which control and reduce the power and sovereignty of each state. But not only states lost their independence. Also the market is kept under surveillance by institutions as WTO or IMF. The new possibility is to give the less developed countries the chance to reach the level of the industrial countries with the help of those. But where are the drawbacks? There are many theories concerning globalisation. One of them is the global risk society theory by U.Beck. The idea of this theory is that ecological disasters reinforce the awareness of globalisation. That leads to “an awareness of shared fate” (Mezřický 2006) as well as to a more cosmopolitan society. The following exposition will analyse the new possibilities and limitations coming along with the process of globalisation. The focus will be on the less developed countries, but also individuals just as industrial countries will be taken into account. After reading, the reader will hopefully have an own opinion if globalisation is either boon or bane.
Globalisation is the worldwide disappearance of ideological, political, scientifical and technological boundaries. It is not an entirely new event but a historical process, which however has gained enormous momentum in the last decades. Within this process peoples and nations come closer together, enabling a free flow of capital and economic exchange. Billions of people around the world can profit from this with the chances of improved working and living conditions. Emerging countries like India, China and Brazil are made into economic centers of gravity as a consequence, relinquishing their old image as cheap producers and transforming it into that of serious industrial providers.
The free flow of capital and an absence of an economic „global order“, however, makes problems inevitable as the current economic crisis is showing clearly. Also the old economic giants in Europe and the US are challenged by an additional and ever more skilled and educated workforce of 2 billion people that before had lived beside the world economy, creating a „War for Talents“ and defying the shrinking populations of the western world.
The inevitable interdependence and cause of severe concern created by the process of globalisation, however, becomes highly apparent in the field of energy supply. The International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that with a world population of then 8,5 million people energy demand will double by 2030 ([]). In 2005 the Hamburger Weltwirtschaftsinstitut (HWI) presented a study by which the future demand for oil grows by 1.7 % annually and the demand for gas by a whopping 2.4% a year should global economies retain their growth rates. Whether or not the reserve ranges in that study (42 and 63 years respectively) are accurate it is probable that both will lose their profitability within this century.
This presents the world with wide ranging questions and challenges on which paths are to be taken in order to guarantee a secure and cheap energy supply. The following article will analyse some current trends, especially in the field of electricity production, and the question on how the growing demand will be met.
Globalisation contains a lot of different fields. One part is the process of word wide interaction and linking up between people, companies and nations. The interaction increases especially in the field of politic, economy, culture, environment and communication. This interaction effects individuals in the same way as institutions ore societies. A big topic of globalisation is the environment, the sustainable management of limited recourses. I will focus especially on the supply of water. The secure supply of portable water of high quality is the condition for life on earth. Politicians as Boutros Ghali prophesised the war on water already in 1885. Others believe that in the 21.century water will takeover the interest that oil had the 20. century.
Big parts of the world population still do not have access to healthy water. This water shortage will highly increase in the next years and wound stay a regional problem of developing countries. Water covers 75 % of the surface of the earth, but just 2,6 % of this water is freshwater and 0,6 % is usable, the rest is contained in the ice of glaciers or part of the eternal snow. The water deposit on earth is unchangeable but the regeneration cycle of water takes several of hundreds of years. Through water pollution and other reasons as highly usage of water in the agriculture sector and the unequal distribution of goods in general this water shortage will be one of the biggest problems to be solved in the next years, to secure human living. With complex and costly methods attempts are made to compensate the approaching shortage. For example plans are made for river-linking in Spain, or the construction of pipelines from Canada to California. An other problem is the privatisation of the public water supply, caused through financial straits. Private investors have the chance to control the water supply and gain power over the formation of price and this will cause the widen of the gap between rich and poor. The process of privatisation in the last years always was a process of loosing codetermination of the population too. The interests of big companies were more important than civil rights.
To solve the upcoming water problem the whole world has to work together to pursuit the goal of a world wide and equal water supply.
Loewe,Jens: Das Wasser Syndikat.Dornach 2007 http://www.unesco.org/water/
- Jonas Schier
- Simon Dress
Quite a controversial topic frequently discussed in last years is the position of Islam and Islamists within the European society. The fact is that Europe has not yet been able to deal with this issue in a satisfactory manner and its importance is rising. The number of European inhabitants who profess this religion has been increasing rapidly. Public opinion remains divided on this trend. Considerable part of the citizens and even some intellectuals describe this situation in a very negative way, they find accepting these different people as spoiling our culture and speak about a danger or threat. With regard to the cultural heritage some voices talk about, professor Sami Zemni stresses the necessity of defining our European identity, thus what exactly is to be preserved, since a specific demarcating is very difficult. In the terms of their non-supporters, Islamists mostly deserve to be isolated (most of the Muslim immigrants live at the edges of cities in ghettos) because they are neither able nor willing to assimilate. The question is whether this lack of mutual understanding is entirely their fault. If they do not imitate our habits and mentality, they are often perceived as less developed intruders without any right to raise demands and should not be treated as equal. Because of this xenophobia and prejudice, immigrants feel deceived and come back to their roots disappointed, disgusted and less disposed to adapt than ever before. All the declared ideals of religious liberty, respect for all human beings etc. look like a shifty lie to them. That is why many academics speak of a great challenge for our democracy emphasizing the need of integration and tolerance. According to Savage: “Even though they (Muslims) may be third-generation citizens, they often are not viewed as fellow citizens by the general public but are still identified as foreigners and immigrants instead”. As we will see, the presence of Islamists in our continent is not new at all. What is new is just the fear spreading around, since their number is growing and the real integration is not progressing very well. To an uncommitted observer, it may seem as if democracy in our countries was a privilege for a certain group of chosen-ones. But then it would not be a democracy any more. On the grounds of several scholars' works I will try to outline where the problem is and the possible causes.
Research question: Individual means –what? How is a society to be defined in a globalized world?
Subtitle: How is the individual influenced by the Globalization process? Is the Global risk society more “risky” than former modern societies or does the difference lie in the society’s cognition of the increasingly process?
Introduction: In this wiki the aspects of Globalization are analysed in relation to and in the disciplinary perspectives of sociology. To discuss the focussed theme the ideas of Zygmunt Baumann (Globalization: The Human Consequences, 1998), Ulrich Beck (What is Globalization?, 2000) and Anthony Giddens (Runaway World: How Globalization is reshaping our lives, 1999), summarized by Nicholas Gane in his article “Chasing the ‘Runaway World’: Politics of recent Globalization Theory”, which was published 2001, were critically disposed and were very useful to understand the different arguments this theme is implicating. Also the more shortening and assembling assignments of David Held, Anthony McGrew, David Goldblatt and Jonathan Perraton gave very good input, but in a wider perspective. The article “The future of the Welfare State and Democracy: the effects of Globalization from a European Perspective” (2007) from the poland Professor Marek Kwiek analysed the results from his colleagues in some cases –mostly by analysing Ulrich Beck- nearly 10 years later, which makes his conclusions very up to date and it was really refreshing to get through his work. Also the often cited aspects sorted out from Jürgen Habermas enriched the sociological discussion about the risk society and it seems to be a very fascinating work to dive deeply into the different opinions and their resulting predictions which are very often spelled out.
First it has to be underlined the historical development of society’s framework building, beginning with the Keynesian idea of Welfare State and what it meant for Europe. But what was the very shifting impact that forced this Welfare State to be constructed and later on to be changed? The nations were no longer that much powerful during the ambivalent process of transformation. As HABERMAS pointed out the question for the 21st century “can democracies based on social welfare survive beyond national borders?” (HABERMAS, Jürgen (2001). The Postnational Constellation. Political Essays. Cambridge.), he is also including the –sometimes frightening- aspects of individual lifestyles, security and prosperity of the nation and the individual aswell. Because the actually operating process does influence and does shift societies around the world in different ways and this does implicate results for the societies’ individuals. And this has to be understood as one very indicating fact about our society when backlooking at the already completed transformation processes of the society.
In the transition from the first to the second modernity, we are dealing with a “fundamental transformation, a paradigm shift, a departure into the unkown world of globality, but not with ‘catastrophe’ or ‘crisis’, if the concept of crisis means that we could return to the status quo ante by taking the ‘right’ measures” . (BECK, Ulrich (2000). What is Globalization? Cambridge.)
This paradigm shift I hope to be able to highlight in this wiki. How does individually resposibility changes its first attentions? What role does consumption play in this Globalization game? Does the opinion of “freedom” still fits together well with the item “individual”? Did it ever? Does the individual gets more powerless or powerful?
Svea Marie Wehling
(Eligible Concern or headless Fear? The Individuals' Handling with a Challenge called Globalisation)
Globalisation is a concept nowadays every single one of us has heard of. However, not many people deal with the subject of globalisation. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for instance refers to this mistakable term as “a process of closer economic integration of global markets“ () and although quite simple it can be regarded as a reasoned definition for an organisation, which deals primarily with economical issues. Nevertheless, this definition is too limited in order to stress the complexity and duality of the process of globalisation. The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology adds, that “this development is being driven forward by world-wide information networks and communication technologies“ (), while the U.S. Department of Commerce focusses on the “potential to affect each other more quickly and to a higher degree than ever before“ (Globalization and Minority-owned Businesses in the United States: Assessment and Prospects (2003), p. 4). Hence, misunderstandings and information of dubious origin lead ([])
The word “globalisation” is a term almost everybody has already heard of, but although quiet everybody has got an idea concerning the term globalisation, it is doubtful if everybody associates the same with this term. The reason for this is the fact that there is no standard definition and moreover the meaning if this term contains different areas of widespread different topics. In general the word globalisation describes a process of changes and developments and global integrations of different fields like economics, politics, environment, communication, technology, culture. It can be defined as a “process which embodies a transformation in the spatial organization of social relations and transactions, generating transcontinental flows and networks of activity, interaction and power” (Held, McGrew, Goldblatt & Perrat, 2008, p. 2). Moreover this process of changes contains the four interacting types of development, stretching, intensification, speeding up and growing extensity, intensity and velocity. Stretching means that activities in politics and economy cross frontiers and borders, secondly the intensification describes for example the growing dimension of interconnection and global trade. The speeding up relates to the faster global interactions concerning communication and transport while the growing extensity, intensity and velocity is referring to the disappearing boundaries between local and global matters (Held, McGrew, 2008, p. 2). These mentioned types of change can be seen in different fields of politics, economies, communication, society, culture and the environment, as mentioned before. To give some examples, the base of globalisation and thus one of the mostly named reasons for globalisation, the technological progress can be mentioned. Concerning the economical globalisation the increase of global trade and more and more global corporations of different businesses can be indicated. The aspect most depressing seems to be the issue of environment. The increase of the global production and manufacturing causes an increase of the environmental pollution just as the ozone problem. Nevertheless these environmental problems are not to be solved by only one region or nation, but it is consequently a global matter, that is to be solved also in a global integration, what leads again to the integrating process of globalisation. The cultural aspect describes the blending, border-crossing and the spreading of different cultures. There are different chances and risk that can be discussed, therefore advantages and disadvantages of the globalisation for all these different areas concerning every single person as part of the social life and the global living. The different chances and risk concernin one of this fields (eventually social, culutural aspect)in detail will be discussed later in this text.
- Lina Samoske
Globalization: More or less than a blessing?
Globalization is a very far-reaching concept. It is defined differently by people around the world. People from the area of policy define it differently than people from the industry. Fact is, therefore, that globalization affects everyone. Globalization brings benefits and disadvantages for everyone. Mezricky described globalization as "an uncontrolled process." (Václav Mezricky. The nature of globalization. Global actors and driving forces. 2006). An important step towards globalization was the regulation for the conversion of other currencies to the dollar from 1971-1973. Companies now could trade easier over the borders of their countries to other countries. It emerged multinational corporations. (Václav Mezricky. The nature of globalization. Global actors and driving forces. 2006). International organizations were founded. Furthermore the loosening of borders between countries could be seen in the context of globalization. Almost free travel was now offered internationally. The developing of communication technology makes it possible to exchange information rapidly. Globalization involves four types of activities: development, stretching, intensification, speeding up and growing Extensity. These four areas influence each other, the developments in communication technology influence the expansion or the growing Extensity of global organizations. (Held, McGrew, 2008, p. 2) If, according to Held affect all areas of globalization, then it could be that globalization also brings disadvantages. Globalization in its current speed overwhelms the adaptability of many people. In the western industrialized countries, many workers are facing unemployment or have been affected. For older workers, it is difficult to adapt to the new situation. A whole generation of workers thus falls into a deep crisis. In developing countries, many people feel that they can’t prosper. In those countries, although come to something, but this is unevenly distributed. There are extremely rich man on the other hand, many very poor people living in slums. In the coming years we will recognize where the globalization will lead us. Economic crisis will bring us to other ways that we previously believed not to go.
- Stefan Marx ( I haven't found my name so I added it by myself... )
The notion of globalisation can be defined as a “process (...) which embodies a transformation in the spatial organization of social relations and transactions, generating transcontinental or interregional flows and networks of activity, interaction and power.” (Held, D./McGrew, A./Goldblatt, D./Perraton, J. (1999) What is Glabalisation?). So it affects nearly every aspect of human life and is ubiquitous. But globalisation is not narrowed to the spatial coherence. It’s also taking place in digital space which is getting more and more important.
A historical overview of globalisation is very difficult, because a starting point is hard to distinguish. It deviates depending on who is considering it. Mezřický points out the beginning of globalisation in “...the deregulation of dependency of national currencies on the dollar” (Mezřický, V. (2006) The nature of globalisation. Global actors and driving forces). This is a very onesided view only at the economical or monetary part of globalisation.
But like industrialization or the expansion of western society globalisation marks a new epoch in human history (cf. Held, D./McGrew, A./Goldblatt, D./Perraton, J. (1999). Despite everything the term globalisation is very controversial and can split society. Because it brings along some negative side effects. Companies displace branches in countries with lower labor costs and workers they can exploit. Globalisation goes hand in hand with pollution, degradation and destruction as well as ecosystems and confronts primitive people and other cultures with western society by an “Americanisation of the world’s culture and the American way of life as an imitated and imported model” (Petrusek, M. The social dimension and sociological treatment of globalisation). For a reason there is a strong movement of antiglobalists. The risk theory by Beck says that global disasters are able to weld the world together. It means bad happenings like ecological catastrophes as a final result of globalisation can bring people together e.g. when they have a common aim.
Positive aspects of globalisation are the growing of total assets e.g. produced goods or financial capital. The prosperity of western society is a model for developing countries and an aim for their inhabitants. Globalisation also encounters people and makes it possible that the world population is able to see places of the planet which were inconceivable or unreachable in the past.
Very important and new in global economy is the aspect that national states have less power over huge companies or even the whole market: “Since the authority of states is territorially bound, global markets can escape effective political regulation.” (Held, D./McGrew, A. (2006) Globalization). Governments of countries have to make out the framework conditions but companies can choose in which country they want to build a factory. So states try to attract companies with tax savings, subsidies or smooth laws. Those who don’t play along are falling by the wayside.
- Helena Radoňová
- Irmawan Rahyadi
Please use the following format further on (your steps in the writing process see Blank page; especialy use the Writing manual whenever you need):
Branstorming on Globalisation and Risk society - try to concentrate on specific risks that you are interested in and want to write about more comprehensively.