Global Perspectives will be organized by subject sections carrying equal weight, which are informed by major conceptual or empirical issues or grounded in traditional disciplines, while always inviting significant interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches.
Communication and Media - Payal Arora
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Special Collection: Datafication and the Welfare State
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New perspectives on Globalization and Media: Rethinking social practice across borders in the age of datafication
The ‘global turn’ in media and communication demands new ways of conceptualizing relations and boundaries between the local, the national and the transnational. In recent years, ubiquitous computing, mobile technologies and social media have amplified the urgency to unpack the globalizing of media platforms, communication patterns and processes as well as their underlying politics and policies.
While the media continues to be implicated in the “disjunctures between economy, culture, and politics” as Arjun Appadurai astutely observed a quarter century ago, their digital cultures have created new opportunities and discontinuities at a global scale that require a prolonged and thoughtful investigation.
Speculations about the fate of traditional mass media like print, radio and television continue to be of rising concern in academic and industrial research. The rise of user-generated content has challenged conventional framings of media producers and audiences bound by the nation state. For example, bloggers, podcasters, online celebrities, digital activists and citizen journalists can shape global public opinion and the media landscape at large.
As a few digital platforms control the vast amount of data generated through everyday communicative practices worldwide, scholars across disciplines are rightfully concerned about who gets to collect, curate, store and moderate such media content. What is driving the expansions in media infrastructures and policies and is there a unified and shared logic to their organization? What are the implications of new media technologies for politics and governance at national and international levels?
We have witnessed a significant shift in discourses surrounding globalization and media, from a celebratory to a more critical stance. Only a decade ago, studies were tethered to the notion of the “networked society” of collective intelligence, participatory knowledge-making, community-building and activism. Today, we appear less optimistic, as scholars sound the alarm on new forms of discrimination, alienation, and victimization through uninterrupted datafication, predictive analytics and automation of the “surveillance society.”
While big data did not reify into an “end of theory” as prematurely envisioned, we hesitate to ask the big questions that can best encapsulate the interconnectedness of information flows and the intersectionality of their datasets. It remains a challenge to “decenter” and “decolonize” the global to stay clear of a singular and universal logic to explain the social order of global media. This endeavour beseeches a re-examination of past formulations of information/media systems, as well as a critical assessment with the velocity, variety and volume and other such rubrics posited to define new media architectures and practices.
Global Perspectives invite scholars across disciplines and fields to submit their empirical and theoretical studies that are at the fulcrum of deliberations on the “global” in media and communication networks. We find ourselves at an important juncture that requires moving beyond staid dualities, traditional framings, and descriptive media comparative work.
How do we transcend the binaries of the online-offline, the public-private media sphere, “data rich” and “data poor,” producer and consumer, homogenization and heterogenization, media convergence and divergence, disembodiments and the situated materiality of media imaginaries to the contextual integrity of the media event? What alternative frameworks, systems, etymologies and ontologies are on offer to reconfigure our understandings of how global media are organizing the power relations in society?
In this context, we invite papers to propose methodological innovations and conceptual alternatives to the approach of the dialect between media and the global. Should we continue to use the nation state as a central unit of analysis or push for a provincializing or translocating of the global in Media studies? Are we giving too much primacy to data in untangling global digital cultures and overestimating their influence? How do we conceptualize the global transformations of the traditional media without being too medium or user centric? These are some of the many issues contributor to the Global Perspectives are welcome to address.
Culture, Values, and Identities - Helmut K. Anheier
Culture is one of the most complex terms in the social sciences today, being deeply implicated in diverse and contested disciplinary discourses. Culture in a broad sense is a system of meaning, its social construction, articulation and reception, including religion, ideologies, values systems and collective identity. In a narrow sense, it refers to the arts, i.e., what artists create and what is regarded, preserved, exchanged, consumed as cultural artefacts.
Various disciplines regard culture as their terrain: anthropology, economics, political science, sociology, and, of course, history and the humanities, including cultural studies and the arts themselves. Frequently divided by methodology and a split between quantitative and qualitative approaches, they function too much as closely guarded “silos,” discouraging the inter and transdisciplinary dialogue Global Perspectives advocates.
Global Perspectives will challenge and contrast the presuppositions within the social sciences toward culture: too often, culture is either as a residual once the “hard” economic and political factors are taken into account, or becomes the all-encompassing construction supposedly explaining everything. Similarly, culture is seen as something that either prohibits or accelerates progress, or it becomes a politically innocent reference category to paint over increasingly absent shared values and common narratives.
That globalization affects culture and vice versa may seem as truism. Yet the interaction involves some of the most vexing questions of our times, and remains inadequately documented, analyzed and understood. It challenges previously more stable cultural systems, forms of every-day life and identities, and does so in very uneven and diverse ways. The triangle of collective heritage, identity and memory, long assumed a foundation of societies, has become uncertain and is being transformed.
There are deeply-rooted clashes of national cultural interest that have been set in motion as globalization has advanced. Is the world moving, as some would claim, toward cultural uniformity or towards tensions and conflicts? Or are there signs of an alternative set of outcomes rooted in a more polycentric system of cultures in terms of meaning and identity, production or consumption? What is the meaning and validity of a Western or Asian “cultural imperialism” thesis, or “clash of civilizations” between East and West?
In contemporary society, there is a deepening intersection between the economic and the cultural. The media presents one dramatic illustration of this intersection, i.e. commercially-produced cultural artefacts. At the same time, culture has come to be seen as an instrument of economic development and urban revitalization – a view is encapsulated in terms like “creative class,” “creative cities,” and the “creative economy.”
Yet culture is also about the arts. Notions of “l´art pour l´art” in the sense that culture is about the arts and creative expressions first and foremost are challenged by the deepening intersection with economy and politics. Interpretative frames for what counts as art and what can be regarded as cultural innovations, and who “owns” or represents them, imply many changes for how works of art, for example, are appreciated, collected, presented, bought and sold, and preserved.
Global Perspectives welcomes contributions that speak to these issues.
Global Change and Sustainability Transformations: Technology-Society Interface - Dirk Messner
This section of Global Perspectives addresses a triangle of three closely related themes: Global change, sustainability, and technology. Understanding the dynamics of each as well as their inter-relationships requires perspectives from across the social sciences but also from the natural and life sciences, including fields such as computer science, robotics, and environmental studies.
The 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change, among others, offer a plan for accommodation 10 billion people by 2050. They acknowledge and accept planetary limitations, seeking to avoid tipping points in the Earth´s carrying capacity. Understanding the implications of the many transformations towards sustainability requires profound inter and trans-disciplinary approaches: robust knowledge of interactions and feedback loops between globally interconnected social systems (societies, economies, polities, cultures), technical infrastructures, the environment and cyber space. Global Perspectives provides space for the social sciences and the humanities as well as the natural and life sciences, engineering, and informatics to contribute to the analysis of global sustainability transformations.
Digitalization, big data, artificial intelligence, autonomous technical systems, biotechnologies and nanotechnology will transform societies and economies profoundly. There is a need to understand various and varied impacts these technological drivers of change are likely to have on fundamental aspects of society: new power patterns and different inequality mechanism can emerge, and democracy and privacy might be challenged. Transferring the authority to make decisions to technical systems (e.g. in stock markets, the administration of justice, autonomous mobility, health diagnostics, power grids) offers opportunities for problem solving based on machine learning, but also involves the risk of losing control over societal processes. How will sustainability transformations and these technological revolutions interact? Shaping these socio-technological dynamics require new research alliances of sustainability sciences, social sciences and humanities, and digital and other engineering sciences.
A cornerstone of global sustainability transformations is the reconfiguration of the global order: The world is economically, technologically, and ecologically highly integrated and interconnected, but socially, culturally, and politically fragmented. How does global governance, aiming at supporting sustainability transformations, work or erode under these conditions? Global governance is not only about power, institutions, standards, and enforcement mechanisms, but also about building blocks of a global cooperation that can be emerging and changing as well as weakening and strengthening. What do we know about cooperation of humans in very complex systems that transcend established physical, political and cultural borders, and in which people interact with each other in non-contiguous space and across time zones?
Global Perspectives welcomes contributions that speak to these issues.
Global Epistemologies: Concepts, Methodologies, and Data Systems - Miguel Centeno
Social science has not kept up with globalization. While the scale and scope of global interactions have increased exponentially, the unit of analysis for much of social science remains at the national level at the highest. That is, with the world assuming a different shape, social scientists continue to study it using arguably outdated scholarly foci. To develop a global perspective, we have to re-orient ourselves to a new level of aggregation.
Essentially all social science is interested in the process through which individuals combine to form more complex, organized wholes. Today, we have created an unprecedented level of organized, complex, aggregation. The number and types of nodes and the different links between them now form what could be envisioned as a 3-dimensional spider web across the globe. How to study it?
We propose that a basic epistemology might be the analysis of the complex systems that form the backbone of increasingly interconnected and interdependent societies. What were once local and regional economies, and socio-ecological systems with somewhat bounded cultures are now becoming rapidly globalized, depending evermore on coordination across spatial and temporal scales. Each component in such systems connects with countless other components, creating a web of interactions that is to some degree self-organizing, not centrally controlled, and susceptible to nonlinear responses to change.
To unify the study of systems across academic disciplines and operational domains, we might use and develop concepts such as offered by network analysis as both tool and metaphor, and also invite the introduction of new concepts that help the social sciences solve the conundrum of methodological nationalism. Such concept could have more universal currency across disciplines and provide an insightful level of abstraction for understanding the underlying mechanisms of systems without losing the important characteristics of the whole system.
We are open to all forms of methodology, qualitative and quantitative. For the former, we would welcome historical analysis of the development of global links, institutional analyses of relevant organizations, and ethnographies of, and tracing approaches to, the process and consequences of globalization. Quantitative approaches would include networks analyses, multi-level analysis, event history, flow and diffusion models, and, thematically, studies of possible stress and tipping points in complex systems (e.g., global finance, communication, logistics, environment etc.).
We would also welcome studies of existing data sources on complex global systems. We are particularly interested in strategies for data collection, visualization and dissemination of data reporting on units of analysis other than the nation state. These include global or transnational flows and transactions in real as well as cyber space among organization and institutional complexes as well as noncontiguous geographical units such as cities, regions or geopolitical alliances.
We invite contributions that offer theoretical and empirical examinations of global systems, propose epistemologies for studying them, introduce and assess concepts as well as methodologies, and report on data sources and possibilities.
Political Economy, Markets, and institutions - Vijayendra Rao
Some of the most pressing global challenges today lie at the intersection of markets and institutions, and how they are influenced by political economy, and the success and failure of collective action. Some of these include climate change, the management of natural resources and the commons, the flow of technology and ideas, production and consumption patterns, and the relationship between growth, inequality and poverty. In addition, there are institutional weaknesses such as corruption, or the threat to multilateralism, as well as persistent and emerging conflicts in regional power struggles, terms of trade, access and fairness. Institutions such as corporations, social movements, regulatory agencies, and non-governmental organizations matter greatly in how these challenges are dealt with and how they may or may not be resolved. All these are also affected by profound local, national and global governance challenges. Understanding, and finding solutions to them, could greatly benefit from a meaningful inter-disciplinary conversation about the inter-related dimensions that are involved at different levels – micro, meso, and macro.
The social science disciplines now seem to be increasingly open to such an inter-disciplinary dialogue. Economists are increasingly looking at questions outside their traditional domain like culture, social norms, conflict and the role of history, questioning the assumptions of rational choice, and engaging with non-conventional data such as information from narratives, text and “big data” from social media and administrative systems. Anthropologists and sociologists are seriously analyzing subjects that have been the traditional domain of economics such as credit markets, prices, valuation and well-being, trade flows, and public infrastructure. Similarly, political scientists, psychologists and historians are getting more methodologically eclectic, and engaging in a meaningful dialogue with policy questions. And all the social sciences are collaborating with researchers from computer science, linguistics and the biological and physical sciences.
This section will attempt to create a space for such inter-disciplinary research, including literature reviews that reach across disciplines. It is sometimes difficult to publish articles that engage in inter-disciplinary collaboration and that are methodologically eclectic, and we welcome articles that push boundaries along these lines. We also invite work that analyzes the intersection between economic, political, social and cultural phenomena, within particular contexts, and comparative work across contexts, and over time. The goal is to not prejudge the nature of research from the perspective of any given discipline, ideology, or methodology but to find ways of reaching a post-disciplinary manner of doing social science where the question drives the nature of theory and method, rather than the other way around.
Politics, Governance, and the Law - Hagen Schulz - Forberg
At first sight, ‘politics’, ‘governance’ and ‘law’ – both as concepts and as empirical realities – seem distinct and easily allocated to separate disciplines. Yet when considering them from global perspectives, they are ultimately contested, as are the relations among them. Generically, politics might be seen as the continuous self-design of a polity through ways of gaining and arranging power, governance as the way in which government might function effectively and simultaneously, when conceived of globally, as transnational and global regimes beyond national realms of sovereignty, and law can be grasped as a social technique by which societies and the international community choose and live by the norms they have reason to value.
The trinity of politics, governance and law has shaped the ‘long twentieth century’: from the unravelling of European empires to the emergence of international law based on a liberal teleology and international organizations and institutions as its resting place, to the affirmation of the nation-state as the main locus of the social and the tensions that emerge between the local social organization and the larger transnational settings, regimes and trade flows. When zooming in on concrete political practice in different parts of the world, what exactly politics is beyond the general description varies significantly. The same is true for governance and law Clearly, different conceptualizations and traditions of law exist when taking a global perspective rather than a localized or transcendental one.
What is at stake increasingly in the twenty-first century is an amplification of twentieth century struggles over legitimate national and global order – and how to make sure their relations remain supportive of peaceful coexistence. What was framed as tensions between “the political” as the ultimate source of normative power and “the law” as a value-based construction on which normative power is built and toward which all politics need to refer had reached a compromise formula in the post-war decades. Yet, this was mostly about “the West” and the construction of international law and national constitutionalism on presupposed basic norms, such as ‘human inviolability’ and ‘human rights’ increasingly unraveled with former colonies moving toward their own normative orders and with the rise of non-Western powers and religious influences who refrain from copying the liberal script into their constitutions and their constructions of legitimacy.
Against the backdrop of the inescapable tensions between transnational economic and legal spheres and national political and social spheres, the old twentieth century tension between legality and legitimacy is back on the agenda with full force. Alas, this happens in a much more complex global setting than seventy or fifty or even twenty-five years ago. The relations between politics, governance and the law will play a decisive role in shaping a peaceful unfolding of the twenty-first century as the need for a new global sustainability becomes increasingly urgent, particularly in the face of increasing tendencies to autocratic rule and lasting ‘states of emergency’. When are nation-states shaped in a way conducive to global peace? And when are global relations shaped in a way conducive to national peace? What is the future of democracy in the twenty-first century? Will regional federations finally democratize or will democracy continue to reside in nation-states? How resilient are national democracies against authoritarian challenges and how shall national, regional and global politics, governance and law interact to work together peacefully?
Contributions to this section are invited to think broadly, innovatively, and deeply about the past, present and future of the relations between politics, governance and law.
Security and Cooperation, International Institutions and Relations - Thomas J. Biersteker
Global security and cooperation take many forms and appear differently from different vantage points on the globe. This is why global perspectives on security, cooperation, and institutions are needed. Both what needs to be secured and the threats from which it must be secured vary across time and place. Security includes classic issues associated with the security of states, derived from Weberian justifications for state formation (to provide security within and protection from without). At the same time, security also extends to the domains of human security, system or network security, and the security/survival of the planet itself. The state can be the provider of security and/or the source of insecurity for different populations. Sources of insecurity for different populations can come from inter-state conflict (nuclear conflict), from the collapse of functioning state institutions (anarchy at the local level), from the commitment of acts of terrorism, from lack of access to basic resources (like water), from cyber threats to existing global networks, from debris from outer-space, or from neglect of the ecological health of the planet.
International cooperation is also multidimensional and increasingly emerges at multiple levels. International institutions extend far beyond the realm of formal inter-governmental organizations and increasingly include informal arrangements engaging state actors along with actors from business and civil society. These informal arrangements can take many institutional forms, ranging from public-private partnerships to multi-stakeholder initiatives, trans-governmental initiatives, and transnational policy networks or communities. Governance deficits at the inter-governmental or state level can be overcome or addressed at the regional or local (increasingly urban) levels.
International Relations as a subject remains a contested domain, with successive generations of scholars pushing the boundaries of the subject with conceptual, normative, and methodological innovations. Global Perspectives is open to those pushing the boundaries and challenging the variety of different parochialisms that emerge in different national, disciplinary, and institutional settings, and challenging those who engage in efforts to “discipline” the field. While it is essential to remain empathetically open to the existence of multiple vantage points and sensitive to the possibility of the coexistence of multiple truths to describe International Relations, it is imperative to maintain a commitment to science, in the broadest sense of the term, with attention to value-informed and systematic analysis.
Global Perspectives encourages submissions that take a global view to security, cooperation, international institutions, and international relations. That is, deliberate attempts to look at a common problem from multiple vantage points or from under-represented vantage points are particularly encouraged. Multi-disciplinary approaches are encouraged, but not required, as are contributions that go beyond addressing debates in social science alone to thinking through and spelling out some of the policy and practical implications of their analysis.
If one consequence of globalization is that national sovereignty and international order are unravelling or, at least, deeply challenged and reconfiguring, then it becomes necessary to ask fundamental, even nagging questions such as: what knits people together; what ensures the continuity and sustenance of communities; and what are the deeper social forces that either accelerate or slow the forces of global change and shape cascading effects within localities (and vice versa)?
Social scientists seeking to better understand global complexity might begin by looking for the basic elements that bring some people together, exclude others, disrupt social orders, and invent new social relations. This means turning back to fundamental concepts such as social institutions, organizations, and relations in order to move knowledge forward and better understand meaningful social changes, compositions, and mechanisms, both conceptually and empirically. The global challenges of today harken back to other moments in social history when intellectual figures emerged to offer compelling interpretations and explanations for the nature of the human condition, the character of social change and the emergence of social institutions, organizations and relations.
Global Perspectives invites ‘big ideas’ essays that take up the deeply humane inquiries that characterize those of our shared social scientific, intellectual antecedents and who shifted our paradigmatic views of the meaningfulness of social institutions, organizations and relations. These essays might ask questions formulated in earlier historic moments, such as how do we explain social change, how is society possible, what is society in these times, and what are social organizations?
Why is it so important at this time? The paradoxes of today cry out for better explanations and plausible answers. Qualitative shifts in social relations are frequently invoked as explanation and outcome in these times of both extreme connectivity and insularity resulting from our global techno-social landscapes. For example, technology has spread access to the means that might connect us all, while at the same time concentrating powerfully destructive tools in the hands of just a few. With globalizing technologies other paradoxes emerge. How do we make sense of the real possibilities of human to human compassionate contact across the globe with the proliferation of expressions of profound fears of the ‘other’ and concomitant insecurities and violent acts against the ‘other’ and from almost every corner of the globe?
We welcome contributions that help us see the taken-for-granted and reinvigorate social science imagination to reveal the rules, norms, and strategies that structure the multiplicity of everyday interactions, and set in motion future pathways of actions and interactions globally and locally. The essays in this section would contribute towards these new insights by centrally attending to the dynamic, interdependent, and mutable nature of societies and global forces. These essays should reinvigorate investigations of social institutions, organizations and relations as they inform global complexities and should contribute towards generating new conceptual domains and new knowledge through multi-perspectival lenses of space and time, analyses of processes, disruptions and disruptors, recursive reflection, mutability, and dialectics. We seek papers on topics broadly related to these preceding concerns.