Globalization: The Human Consequences by Zygmunt Bauman

Globalization The Human ConsequencesIf you’re looking for a quick beach read, Globalization: The Human Consequences may not be your best choice. On the other hand, there’s no reason why one has to read social theory in the fluorescent torture chamber of a dorm room. So if you want to contemplate neoliberal economics and globalized culture… here’s your one stop shop.

As far as social theorists go, Bauman is a lively and engaging writer. He has a way of turning interesting and provoking phrases (for example, he refers to American television as nightly “broadcasts from heaven” seen by the worlds’ struggling people who cannot hope to attain the falsified “as seen on tv” lifestyle). As the title suggests, Bauman isn’t wild about how “globalization,” this term that has become so ubiquitous as to become opaque, has come to define many aspects of our lives.

Like other writers on globalization, Bauman argues that the world has been “globalized” for a long time, but that the speed at which people, resources, and information flow across this globe has increased dramatically over the last fifty years. In a world disregarding any “speed limits,” social and ecological change has likewise sped up, at times with severe consequences.

While Bauman may draw the reader’s concern to troubling trends, his tone in this short (<120 pages) book is more descriptive than invective. He is interested in describing what globalization is, particularly in how it changes the way power is organized and effected.

Written at the turn of the century, Bauman’s critique remains relevant, if partial, fifteen years after its publication. But this is an interesting and engaging introduction to the philosophical and socio-political dimensions of a small, small, world going very, very, fast.

A thought provoking read for anyone in the social sciences or humanities.

It’s a small world after all…

Availability:  St. Mary’s Library, USMAI and COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Shane D. Hall
Rating: Highly Recommended

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