CSGR Working Paper No. 51/00
The growth of ‘globalization studies’ in the social sciences has done little to undermine the term’s seemingly essential elasticity. Many academic debates about the veracity of the globalization hypothesis often struggle around meanings of ‘globalization’, yet the concept also possesses a ‘real world’ policy presence. There is evident need, therefore, for the more research on the development and uses of knowledge about globalization – to reflect, in other words, upon the subjective dimensions of processes that are said to be transforming the policy-making environment. This paper positions itself as a contribution to this academic manoeuvre and commences with a discussion of globalization as discourse and considers some problems for theory and method that follow. The second part of the argument offers some preliminary reflections on studying the European Commission as a venue for the discursive dimensions of globalization. The purpose of this discussion is (a) to map the development of ideas about globalization as used within the segmented policy-making structure of the Commission and (b) to dissect the forms of knowledge about ‘globalization’ that are present. In particular, the paper focuses on the distinct ways in which common narratives about a rapidly changing global context are used in terms of agenda setting. At the heart of the paper is the analysis of the proposition that discourses of globalization provide useful ideational ammunition for those seeking to legitimate moves towards European-level economic governance. The purpose of this discussion is (a) to map the development of ideas about globalization as used within the segmented policy-making structure of the Commission and (b) to dissect the forms of knowledge about ‘globalization’ that are present.
Keywords: Globalization, European Union, Discourse.