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The 'Global Dimension' of Contemporary Politics – An Argument for Taking 'Global' Seriously

Thursday February 15, 2007, at 14:00
Aula 4 - IBEI
Research seminar
Recent years have seen a striking proliferation of the term ‘global’ in public and political discourse world-wide. The popularity of the term is a manifestation of the fact that there is a world-wide notion that contemporary social reality is ‘global’. The acknowledgment of this notion has important political implications and raises questions about the role played by the idea of the ‘global’ in policy making. These questions, in turn, expose even more fundamental issues about whether the term ‘global’ indicates a difference in kind, even an ontological shift, and, if so, how to approach it. The paper argues that the notion of ‘global’, in other words the ‘global dimension’, is a significant aspect of contemporary politics that needs to be investigated. The paper argues that in the globalization discourse of International Studies ‘global’ is ‘naturalized’, which means that it is taken for granted and assumed to be self-evident. The term ‘global’ is used mainly in a descriptive way and subsumed under the rubric of ‘globalization’. ‘Global’ tends to be equated with ‘trans-national’ and/or world-wide; hence, it addresses quantitative differences in degree but not (alleged) differences in kind. In order to advance our understanding of contemporary foreign politics, ‘global’ needs to be taken seriously. This means, firstly, to understand and to conceptualise ‘global’ as a social category; secondly, to uncover ‘global’ as a ‘naturalized’ concept in the globalization discourse in order to rescue it for innovative new approaches in International Studies; and, thirdly, to test existing analytical and methodological frames against this re-conceptualisation of ‘global’. The paper addresses all three points.