Globalisation is the dominant theme in contemporary political and economic debates. Even a cursory glance at official publications emanating from governments across the developed and underdeveloped world reveals the centrality of this concept to policy debates. Concerns about the need to ‘adapt’ to and meet the ‘challenge’ of globalisation inform the conduct not only of macroeconomic policy but every aspect of social and economic policy. Debates on public spending continue to be shaped by the fiscal shock that states across the core capitalist area experienced as a result of 2007-8 ‘global’ crisis. Similarly, a careful analysis of material produced by major corporations reveals the critical importance these organisations place on changes in the organisation of global markets and the need to become ‘global firms’.
Despite the centrality of the concept of globalisation to debates across the social sciences there is little agreement as to what this concept actually means. This module seeks to explore the content of the processes that go under the rubric of globalisation and draw out their significance for our understanding of the theory and practice of governance and development. In order to do so we explore the history of globalisation and the attempts of leading theorists to conceptualise the process. Having done so we move on to analyse the key institutions (both public and private) that are shaping the contemporary world order. We shall also consider the impact of structural changes in the global political economy upon the organisation of work, gender relations, national welfare regimes and systems of democratic control.
This module explicitly adopts a post-disciplinary approach. As such no attempt will be made to draw clear artificial distinctions between the social, political and economic. Major processes of change in systems of human organisation are simultaneously cultural, political and economic phenomena and we seek to study them as such. In practical terms this means we must be prepared to draw upon sources from throughout the social sciences and the reading list reflects the necessity of eclecticism.