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Globalization and the Information Age

The term post modernism first entered the lexicon of philosophy with the publication of the post modern condition by Jean–Francois Leotard. It can be described as a set of critical strategic and rhetorical practices as against other concepts. The late 19th century has been regarded as an age of modernity where science and technology including tools of mass communication and transport redefined the human perceptions. The last forty years have witnessed technological transformations that have had a tremendous impact on knowledge.

It is a sine qua non that knowledge has become the principal force of production in the last few decades. In the post modern and post industrial age science and its applications will be the leading hiatus between developed and developing countries and this is likely to increase in future. Knowledge can be regarded as an informational commodity which is essential to power and in future is going to be the major stake in the worldwide battle for control. “This scenario, akin to the one that goes by the name “the computerization of society…, makes no claims to being original or even true. ” (Lyotard, 7)

The globalization of information technology has transformed knowledge into coded messages which can be transmitted and communicated across geographical frontiers. However such coded messages and its reception must follow certain rules accepted by the society at large. This raises the issue of the language game and the theory of Legitimation. “…there is a strict interlinkage between the kind of language called science and the kind called ethics and politics:” (Lyotard, 8) With the advancement of technologies and techniques in the 20th century knowledge has shifted its emphasis from human action to its means.

Post modern society makes a distinction between narrative and subjectivity. It is now an age of performance, so knowledge which cannot be communicated as information must be done away with (Marxists. org 2009). Local knowledge today is at loggerheads with global communication of knowledge. Globalization envisages a critical bench mark of universalism or a matrix of social relationships that go beyond national or regional boundaries. It is a historical process that encompasses shared universal values, goals and measures for the advancement of society.

With the growing information technology and communication system, national and regional problems on the domestic front such as social and economic inequality, agrarian reform, and urbanization will have to be perceived in the scenario of a borderless world where different regions are connected in a common survival strategy for the human race. In the information age global economic players can have instant access to markets and events in different parts of the world and use information to get an upper hand in economic domination of the international trade.

This would require a critical reassessment of established economic political and social institutions at both the national and international levels. The relationship between globalization and structural change has two aspects – Integration and Fragmentation (University of Cambridge 2005). Attempts to create a homogenous world are challenged by inherent social forces opposing such moves. Information has led to transformation of lifestyles and conflicts within cultures.

This has led to the growth of resistance to remould conceptions having their origins in distant countries being made instantly available through modern information communication systems. The search should be for genuine collective solutions encompassing existing and potential conflicts and tensions, while servicing the needs of different regions, nations or roots. The age of information envisages a plethora of exchange relationships between and within individuals, groups and institutions both public and private, sometimes with predictable and sometimes with unpredictable socio-economic and political outcomes.

The information age has encouraged the free movement of trade and finance across geographical boundaries. But it has not taken into account the free movement of labour. There has been a slow down in migration during the last two decades of the 20th century. We have to consider that globalization has direct influence on emigration pressures on the supply side and immigration pressures on the demand side. It has unleashed forces which are creating a demand for labour mobility across geographical frontiers and the consequent development of institutions on the supply side to meet this demand (Foders & Langhammer, 35).

The future is therefore bound to be shaped by demographic change and population imbalances arising in particular from the ageing of industrial societies. This calls for setting up institutions and international routes for formulating policies for cross boarder movements of people. It is commonly argued that the facets of state power are dominated by industrial and agricultural classes, bureaucracy and factions of foreign capital, with the people living below poverty line in rural and urban areas having little or no influence in shaping national or regional policies (Roy, 29).

We should not brush aside these arguments but we should consider revisiting these issues in the perspective of globalization in the post modern era to genuinely asses the dimensions and ambit of creating an open state which can make an impact on formulating and executing domestic and external policies and co-operating with non-state actors such as NGO’s and localized movements and also radically concerned international and regional institutions on issues which transcend national and geographical boarders (Banerjee & Linstead 683-722).

Issues on global warming, carbon footprints are examples of such movements. In the last few decades, the so called economically affluent states have impaired the stability of the world through new forms of capital investment that is commonly recognized by the name multinational corporations. The question has become even more complicated with the development of new tools of the information age – computer technology and telematics. Let us take for example that IBM is authorized to launch communication satellites or satellites with data banks in the earth’s orbital belt. The question is who will use them?

“Who will determine which channels or data are forbidden? The State? Or will the State simply be one user among others? ” (Drolet, 126) The radical transformation of knowledge and it’s easy accessibility in this world of globalization and the explosion of accessibility of information could raise the question of a long term serious repercussion on the existing administrative sanctum sanctorum of the structures of civil government and force them to reconsider their powers both de jure and de facto with large corporations and the civil society, with diverse social canvases.

The post bi polar world, the growing American dominance of American economic powers, the non-existence of a socialist alternative and the transformation of the Chinese economy welcoming the economic dialectics of an open market philosophy and many other factors post 1970s invite a series of food for thought which may goad national states to consider a serious rethinking of the roles they have been playing as global actors since the 1930s.

Against this backdrop of knowledge accumulation and explosion through the medium and tools of mass communication such as computers and the Internet, the data bank and telematics, it is urgent that such a reexamination takes place at the earliest. In this context of a highly developed contemporary society in the post modern era, we must be prepared to answer a fundamental question of how the society can be represented. For the last 50 years society has been in general divided into either a society which forms a functional whole or it is divided into two.

The first model is suggested by Talcott Parsons and the second by the Marxists but both accept the principal of class struggle and dialectics as a duality which operates in every society. In the post modern world the process of change goes simultaneously with innovations. Even when aberrations such as strikes, crisis, unemployment or political revolutions inspire hope and kindle a belief in an alternative, in reality what takes place is an internal readjustment within the social fabric and the global canvas and its result can be nothing more than increasing the system’s viability.

A most recent phenomenon has been the global melt down and the readjustment of the democratic alternative in Nepal. The only alternative is to raise the bar for improvement or face the hardships of decline. Another important aspect of globalization in the information age is the emergence of a global culture (Featherstone, 10). This is based on the invisible current of theories that focuses on relationships between the economic and cultural forces and the shape of globalization.

We cannot identify one global mass culture but a transnational process with multifarious cultural flows which are not necessarily consistent with dominant nation state ideologies. “More specifically, the contemporary capitalist creation of consumers frequently involves the tailoring of products to increasingly specialized regional, societal, ethnic, class and gender markets – so-called ‘micro-marketing. ’” (Robertson, 100) and where “culture in the world of late capitalism, which includes a momentous modification of its social function. ” (Jameson, 48).

“In any case globalization produces a tension between cultural homogenization and cultural heterogenisation” (Appadurai, 1990; Bhabha, 1994; Duncan, 1996). Theorists believe that consumption is the fundamental ideology underlying globalization of culture. The consumption of various goods and services, the structural basis of western societies is being spread worldwide through global media, the basic theory being seduction of the market. In this post modern world the kaleidoscope of cultures that continue to flourish in various nation states does not contradict globalization.

Rather it can be viewed as the fall out effect of globalization thorough the channel of expansion of trance-national capital, cultural product and media industries worldwide. It is important rather imperative to understand that globalization is a homogenizing process as well as a differentiating one. “Globalization has accelerated the rise of consumerism in third world and facilitated the emergence of a trance national capitalist class – the indigenous elite” (Kothari, 1997).

Cultural diversity puts into shade class and power differences and prevents the possibilities of radical restructuring of relationships. “Ethnicity, authentic or otherwise is a problematic category with political and epistemological consequences” (Radhakrishnan, 1996). In this information age of a global economy with diverse cultures, using the term ‘ethnic’ is far from embracing plurality, and it sustains the binary oppositions of the dominant culture. The challenge therefore is to manage a culturally diverse workforce. Cultural diversity is to be seen as a marketing opportunity.

The realities of diverse cultures create new forms of amalgamation in the socio-democratic policies of a vibrant national state. Social consequences of the flow of information and globalization can be visualized in many regions of the world where pockets in the social fabric try to resist the changes necessitated by globalization. The new liberal agenda while acknowledging some of the fall out effects of globalization would strive to create a more ambient globalism under the same structural system and economy where the aim is “not to destroy the system, but to improve it” (Friedman, 2000:17).

The predominant idea should be to negotiate a third way and to minimize the tension between globalization and social stability taking into account that international and domestic division of labour is accentuated by international integration of knowledge and markets. List of References Foders, Federico, and Langhammer, Rolf J (2006) Labor mobility and the world economy. Berlin: Springer. Drolet, Michael (2004) The postmodernism reader: foundational texts. Madison Avenue: Routledge. Roy, Sumit (2005) Globalization, ICT and developing nations: challenges in the information age.

California: SAGE. Featherstone, Mike (1990) Global culture: nationalism, globalization and modernity. California: SAGE. University of Cambridge (2005) Globalization and American Popular Culture: Dynamics of Integration and Fragmentation in the Contemporary Global System [online] available from <http://h05. cgpublisher. com/proposals/166/index_html> [May 7, 2009]. Banerjee, Subhabrata B. , and Linstead, Stephen. (2001) ‘Globalization, Multiculturalism and other Fictions: Colonialism for the New Millennium? ’. SAGE JOURNALS Online.

8 (4). 683-722. Marxists. org (2009) The Postmodern Condition A Report on Knowledge [online] available from <http://www. marxists. org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/fr/lyotard. htm> [May 7, 2009]. Jameson, Fredric (1992) Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press. Lyotard, Jean-Francois. (1993) The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Robertson, Roland (1992) Globalization: social theory and global culture. London: SAGE.

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