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Volume 38, 2021

Thirty Years of ProtoSociology

Roland Robertson
Pages 172-187

Globalization Discourse
Classification and Transdisciplinarity

Set in the immediate context of the recent UN conference on climate change (COP 2021) in Glasgow and the sudden emergence of the variant, Omicron, this paper involves discussion of the present state of discourse concerning globalization in the broadest sense. It begins by contrasting the approaches and substance of two specific books: Globalization Matters by Manfred Steger and Paul James and Grave New World by Stephen King. The difference between the two books is brought into sharp relief by the economism of the book by King and the multidimensionality of the volume by Steger and James. More generally, these recent books are chosen because they are almost complete opposites, the central difference being the adamant optimism about globalization in Globalization Matters and the extreme pessimism and negativity in Grave New World. It is also very important to emphasize the wide ranging and penetrative character of Globalization Matters compared with the latter. Also invoked is recent and very significant work by Dipesh Chakrabarty. Two themes are claimed here to be neglected, namely global history and the concept of glocalization. Attention is also drawn to the crucial omission of the fact that much of globalization talk began in the fields of religious study and theology. The disparity between these two latter fields of study and mainstream social science and conventional history is given attention. The contributions of other crucial commentators to the overall debate, Lovelock and Latour, are also invoked. The focus by Steger and James, on the one hand, and Chakrabarty on the other, on the Anthropocene is given attention. Overall, the article concludes by placing the global-local problematic at the centre of what is called here globalization discourse.