SOC 305. Global Transformations

Economic, political, social, and ecological dimensions of globalization. Theories and research in global political economy, world systems, transnationalism, and social movements in historical and comparative contexts. Majors also take SOC 305M. [GE.]

This course will examine the social, economic, and political forces and transformations pervading the globe in the current era commonly known as globalization.  By globalization we mean a process, not an end-state or a stage reached. It characterizes the increasing scope and intensity of commercial, communicative, and exchange relations beyond national borders. These relations can cover the means of transporting goods and persons, the flows of commodities, capital, or information transfer and processing, and as well, the circulation process between society, technology, and Nature.

In lay terms, they are networks covering the intercontinental dissemination of telecommunications, mass tourism/mass culture, global migrations, financial and global production, arms and drugs trafficking, supranational collective of governmental and non-governmental organizations (IMF, World Bank, WTO, Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth, EU, ASEAN, IRRI, etc.) that are increasingly impacting on the globe in a homogenizing and dissipative manner to national and traditional socio-cultural and political systems.   These transnational institutions increasingly are providing global governance.  At the same time, the reactions to these institutions have emerged from non-governmental networks and institutions challenging the policies and proclamations of these transnational governmental organizations.  Inevitably, as world history has shown, global inequality has always been with us.  This hierarchical and global condition is “as old as the hills”.  We will explore the current conditions by examining the formation of a global ruling class of technocrats, financiers, private corporate leaders, political leaders.

We will examine these ongoing world historical forces and processes in order to understand the impact these globalizing forces have on social, economic, and political institutions and structures of national systems/nation-states, and the resistance to such globalizing processes.  Wars and conflicts will also be discussed. We will conclude the course by examining the alternative process to globalization which is localization via the formations of socioeconomic organizations and local economies.

This course is designed to provide the student with an overview of various aspects of societal relationships across geographic zones and temporal dimensions.  The focus is on Place (site and situation, dependency relationships between regions, humans and the land), Time (sequential relationships, continuities and discontinuities and connections between past periods.), Economy (systems that structure production and distribution of resources) and Political Community (systems of power and governing).


Luke Martell, The Sociology of Globalization Polity Press.

Jackie Smith, Social Movements for Global Democracy Johns Hopkins University Press.

Chrystia Freeland, Plutocrats, Penguin.