Thursday, May 10, 2012

Roland Robertson on Globalization in "Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity "– Summary and review

Roland Robertson's "Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity" is a theoretical article which looks at the concept of globalization through the way it is deliberated in the sociological field. Robertson's agenda in "Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity" is to show the weakness of contemporary theories of globalization. Robertson's "cure" for this discursive problem is not through a better definition or more elaborate theory of globalization, but rather its replacement with the concept of "glocalization".

Robertson opens "Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity" with the semantic definition of globalization which sees it as a process and not a fixed and resolved state which has clear characteristics. Viewing globalization as  a process means in a sense viewing the world as becoming global as Robertson shows how sociologists tend position local culture in an inferior position to the rising global culture under globalization.

Robertson hold that the vagueness which characteristics sociological discourse on globalization arises in part from the concept of globalization itself, and offers to replace the view of it as a process for a view of it as a condition or a trait of culture which is characterized by globalness.

Although Robertson was one of the first to introduce the concept of globalization into the sociological discourse in "Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity" he suggests replacing it with the concept of "glocalization" – a term borrowed from the Japanese business world which refers to the process of adopting and fitting foreign products to meet the needs and taste of the local market. Paradoxically, Robertson in a sense argues that globalization is in actual fact a local phenomenon, and that the worldwide exchange and fusion of culture is always done in local terms. On the other hand, Robertson holds that what is conceived as the local is in actual fact global, like for example of the idea of the nation state which is a global idea. For these reasons, Robertson holds that global culture and local culture are not two opposing forces at odds, as the term "globalization" might suggest, but rather see them as working together, as the term "glocalization" might suggest.

See also: Jihad vs. McWorld / Benjamin Barber