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A review of studies on the processes of globalisation reveals that we are facing a multifaceted phenomenon containing economic, social, political, cultural, religious and legal dimensions, all interlinked in complex fashion.Single cause explanations and monolithic interpretations of the phenomenon therefore appear inadequate.These are some of the questions Boaventura de Sousa Santos aims to elucidate in a thorough and wide ranging essay.
Referring to the dominant characteristics of globalisation may convey the idea that globalisation is not only a linear process but also a process of consensus.
This is obviously false, as will be demonstrated later. And, although false, it nonetheless contains a grain of truth.
Smith’s White Teeth and Díaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, feature narratives that jump into the past to offer the reader the historical prelude to the characters’ lives.
Díaz and Smith point to history’s influence on shaping the identities of the characters living in a diaspora and how it is an inescapable fate.
Given the breadth of the processes at work, the prescription is, in fact, a vast set of prescriptions, all anchored in the hegemonic consensus.
This consensus is known as the “neo-liberal consensus” or the “Washington Consensus”, since it was in Washington in the mid eighties that the core states in the world system subscribed to it, and it covers the future of the world economy, development policies and, in particular, the role of the state in the economy.
Will all these processes usher into a new model of social development, or will this lead to the crisis of the world system as others fear?
In the last three decades transnational interactions have intensified dramatically, from the globalisation of production systems and financial transfers to the worldwide dissemination of information and images through the media, or the mass movements of people, whether as tourists or migrant workers or refugees.
In addition, the globalisation of the last three decades, instead of conforming to the modern Western model of globalisation – that is, to a homogeneous and uniform globalisation – so keenly upheld by Leibniz as well as Marx, as much in theories of modernization as in theories of dependent development, seems to combine universality and the elimination of national borders, on the one hand, with particularity, local diversity, ethnic identity and a return to communitarian values, on the other.
Moreover, it interacts in very diverse ways with other, parallel transformations in the world system, such as the dramatic rise in inequality between rich and poor countries and between the rich and the poor inside each country, overpopulation, environmental disaster, ethnic conflicts, international mass migration, the emergence of new states and the collapse or decline of others, the proliferation of civil wars, globally organized crime, formal democracy as a political condition for international aid, etc.