A Critical Analysis of Anthony Giddens’ “Runaway World”

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14 September 2021

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The ideas in Anthony Giddens’ “Runaway World” had been initially presented at the 1999 Reith Lectures. Later on these ideas had been further developed in a guide with the identical title. The lecture opens with a dialogue on the nature of world change, in which Giddens specified his place on globalization in distinction to 2 commonly held views. These views being: (1) the sceptical view which posits that the globalization process does not exist and (2) the unconventional view which posits that the globalization course of exists.

The former view which is forwarded by the sceptics doubt the truth of the globalization process.

Individuals who maintain this view argue that the worldwide economic system is actually nothing new or that commerce these days remains regional somewhat than world-wide. The later view, on the opposite hand, which is forwarded by the radicals recognize the fact of the globalization course of. Individuals who hold this view argue that the worldwide marketplace now not recognizes the existence of nationwide borders and has continued to develop throughout the years.

Giddens argues that the radicals are the closest to being right in this debate, however that each side are mistaken in treating globalization as primarily an economic phenomenon.

In response, he presents a unique view. He states, “Globalization is political, technological and cultural, in addition to financial. It has been influenced, above all, by developments in techniques of communication, dating back solely to the late 1960s”. In addition to this he argues that it is equally mistaken to treat globalization merely as an ‘out there’ phenomenon, as one regarding ‘big systems’ that are far faraway from the individual.

Rather, globalization is to be understood also as an ‘in here’ phenomenon which influences essentially the most intimate and private aspects of our lives.

Giddens proposes, for instance, that the transformation of the normal family system, coupled with the drive for larger equality for women, is a part of a “truly international revolution in on a regular basis life…whose penalties are being felt around the globe in spheres from work to politics”. In addition to this, he further argues that globalization is to not be understood as a single, unilinear course of, however as an array of complex processes working in several instructions directly. The causes for such a claim are as follows.

First, globalization entails the “pulling away” of power and influence from local communities and even nations, and the institution of a new “global arena”. Second, it “not solely pulls upwards, but additionally pushes downwards, creating new pressures for native autonomy”. This motion is marked by the revival of native identities and cultures, but is also accompanied by the rise of latest nationalisms. Finally, globalization may “squeeze sideways”, and lead to the creation of recent regional zones either within or throughout the boundaries of nation states. Giddens develops these arguments via his dialogue of threat, tradition and the household.

In the primary of those discussions he argues that we are in the strategy of shifting from a standard world of exterior risk, during which risks come “from the fixities of custom or nature” to certainly one of manufactured threat, in which new threats come up from our personal intervention into nature. Giddens states, “Our age isn’t more harmful – no more risky – than those of earlier generations, but the steadiness of dangers and risks has shifted. We live in a world where hazards created by ourselves are as, or extra, threatening than people who come from the outside”.

These new global hazards lend the world a model new degree of uncertainty, for manufactured dangers, such as these connected to the production of genetically modified crops, don’t have any historical precedent, can’t be calculated in full, and thus stay largely unknown. Giddens argues that this marks the emergence of a new ‘post-traditional’ age, during which we are pressured to have interaction actively with the information produced by specialists, and make reflexive choices as to the risks we resolve to take and the belief we choose to invest in others.

This is a key part of what Giddens terms “reflexive modernization”, since individuals and establishments are finally let loose from the constraints of custom and are compelled to order and reorder their activities within the light of skilled information. There are two elements of this process that are central to Giddens’ argument concerning globalization. These are as follows. First, this course of is fundamentally unstable, for ‘The reflexivity of modernity . . . doesn’t stabilise the relation between expert data and data applied in lay actions. Knowledge claimed by professional observers .

. . rejoins its subject material, thus . . . altering it”. Second, whereas reflexive modernization liberates us from tradition, tradition itself does not merely disappear, somewhat it turns into a alternative not a destiny or obligation, which means, in turn, that self-identity can now not be derived simply from a given order, however must be “created and recreated on a more energetic basis than before”. Furthermore, this course of can by no means be utterly secure, since self-identity is reflexive in nature, and is formed by, while in turn also shaping, the institutions of modernity.

It is necessary to note that Giddens’ response to the uncertainties of this new world is political in orientation. He states, “Our runaway world doesn’t need much less, but extra government – and this, only democratic establishments can provide”. This argument means that greater management of excessive modernity may be achieved by way of additional democratization of the world. In order for this to happen, however, Giddens argues that it’s essential to resolve the paradox inherent in a democratic setting.

This paradox is evident within the method in which the globalization of democracy has been accompanied by increasing disillusionment with trendy democratic processes. In order to resolve this issue, Giddens proposes a democratization of democracy itself. Such a democratization process, on the other hand, includes the efficient devolution of power, constitutional reform, larger transparency in political affairs, the fostering of a strong civic culture, and the pursuit of new transnational or international democratic forms.

Despite the Giddens’ refreshing take on the difficulty of globalization, his propositions as to how the problems that globalization presents the individual could also be solved show to be extremely vague. Consider, for example, that despite laying down the attainable technique of solving the disillusionment within a democratic setting, his options are highly generalized and so they fail to specify a direct mode of motion that must be undertaken by the different government officials in addition to the different people within such nations.

Despite of this shortcoming, the significance of Giddens’ argument may be traced to his stance relating to the issue. As was stated within the preliminary part of the paper, Giddens neither argues for the sceptics nor for the radicals but presents a conservative place on the difficulty of globalization. This position nevertheless may be categorised as a radical form of conservatism. The importance of Giddens’ radical conservativism as can be seen in his views regarding globalization is obvious if one considers the next elements. First, Giddens’ views allow the repair of damaged solidarities.

This is based on the significance Giddens places on both autonomy and interdependence which permits private and collective duty. Second, Giddens’ views recognize the central role of political life in affecting the social and economic area. In a sense, one would possibly state that Giddens recognizes the implications and effects of globalization upon each the private and non-private spheres of existence. Third, Giddens’ claim allows the event of policies which may protect the public area by way of the enhancement of the individuals’ autonomy.

Fourth, Giddens declare enables the pursuit of dialogic democracy. Dialogic democracy is necessary because it “creates a public arena during which controversial points – in principle – may be resolved, or no much less than handled, through dialogue rather than via pre-established types of power”. Giddens’ emphasis on the creation of such a situation is essential as it permits the expansion of self assist groups and social movements in an economic, social, and political atmosphere which is repeatedly in flux because of the globalization course of.

Lastly, the significance of Giddens’ views may be attributed to the emphasis he locations on radical conservatism in confronting the issues that may arise because of the globalization course of. Giddens argues that since globalization has enabled the merging of nation states and the non existence of national boundaries, it’s essential to develop a global order which is characterized by each toleration and dialogue in order to fight the totally different sorts of violent reactions that will develop on account of the globalization process.

Within this context, one may observe that the importance of Giddens’ article as it is introduced above in its preliminary version and its version as a guide could also be traced to the style by which Giddens emphasizes the role of governance in enabling the shift to a world order which is set by globalization. BIBLIOGRAPHY GIDDENS, A. Beyond Left and Right. Cambridge, Polity, 1994. GIDDENS, A. Living in a Post-Traditional Society in U. BECK, A. GIDDENS, & S. LASH, Reflexive Modernization. Cambridge, Polity, 1994, p. 95

GIDDENS, A. Modernity and Self-Identity. Cambridge, Polity, 199 GIDDENS, A. Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping Our Lives. BBC Reith Lectures. London, BBC, 1999. GIDDENS, A. Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping Our Lives. London, Taylor & Francis, 2003. GUILLEN, M. Is Globalization Civilizing, Destructive or Feeble? A Critique of Five Key Debates in the Social Sciences. Annual Review of Sociology, 27(1): Aug. 2001: 235-260. HELD, D. & MCGREW, A. Globalization/Anti-Globalization. Cambridge, Polity, 2007.

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StudyScroll. (2021). A Critical Analysis of Anthony Giddens’ “Runaway World”. [Online]. Available at: https://studyscroll.com/a-critical-analysis-of-anthony-giddens-runaway-world-essay [Accessed: 27-Sep-2022]

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