Course 20 June 2012 Globalization: Viewed from the Symbolic Interactionist, Functionalist and Conflict Theory Perspectives The growing ties between different cultural groups and economic units that are typical of the present epoch had great consequences for the development of global society as a whole…
It would be useful to try and analyze the problem of globalization from the viewpoint of different scientific currents that may enable us to better understand the thing. In this essay, three theoretical approaches will be used and compared: Symbolic Interaction theory, functionalism, and conflict theory. The preference should be given to the one of them which may allow better grasp of the problems of globalization. A Symbolic Interaction theory is a sociological approach based on the principle of the primacy of semiotic interactions between individuals and their groups in an analysis of social relations. Symbolic interactionists usually claim that it is semiotics (i.e. the ability to form symbolic images of surrounding reality) that really distinguishes human beings from other animals, and that it is the specific ways of creating such symbolic meanings that define both human conscience and social order at large (Plummer 195). That said, symbolic interactionists aim to use as much empirical data for their scholarly arguments as possible, because the supporters of this approach believe that an analysis of social life should be grounded in strong empirical foundations (Blumer 47). With respect to globalization, the symbolic interactionist approach to this phenomenon rests on the assumption that globalization is the direct result of growing rates of social interaction across cultures. The globalized world is held together by the natural tendency of humans to communicate and share information with each other, so that the results of these interactions gradually come to shape their participants’ cultural conventions themselves (Dolgon and Baker 376). Thus globalization is a final result of the millennia-old process of growth in inter-community ties that led firstly to the emergence of different nations, and then to the gradual blurring of most important distinctions among them. The symbolic interactionist perspective allows for deeper understanding of socio-psychological aspects of globalization and their consequences. If one takes into account the impact globalization had on collective action networks and symbolic structures in general, one may observe that a globalizing world enabled the emergence of vastly different networks of meaning and action – from the development of a type of a ‘globalized’ consumer as a new point of reference to the steady growth of movements and attitudes that proceed from typically ‘global’ point of view. It does not matter whether such movements are pro- or anti-globalization and which symbolic structures they use to refer to themselves – all of them operate within the structure of meanings that was formed in the course of globalization processes. A functionalist approach to globalization is fundamentally political, in a sense that its supporters pay the closest attention to the functional aspects of interactions between different political actors that comprise an international political scene. The core idea beyond functionalist framework is that a growth in complexity of various functions executed by the state gradually gives rise to a need to cooperate with the other similar states, so that the execution of these functions may be more effective. The spheres of cooperation need not be ‘political’ in the narrow sense of the term; they might include purely technical or cultural interaction. ...
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