A person called Dry Roger Morgan published a diary of notes of 23 children, ho are in care, this gave an insight into how children feel being in the care system, their good experiences, their bad experiences and their thoughts and feelings.
One 11 year old wrote: 1 “Foster care isn’t as bad as people say it is because I always thought I would die if came into care but loved it.Some days weren’t good, but others were the best days of my life” This shows that not all experiences of children being in care have been bad, that some of the children that had been taken away from their families still managed to be pappy children who although had bad days, still managed to live normal lives.In children homes, at lot was written about food and cooking together, one 14 year old wrote: 2″The sad thing about being in care is when it comes up to Mother’s Day or Father’s Day but if you see them then that isn’t as bad but even if you don’t you can get your foster career something as they are like your mum and dad” This also shows that just because I child is in care does not mean that they are unable to see their parents on occasions and the ester cares do all they can to give a sense of normality to the children’s life’s.Among the noted experiences In secure units were friends leaving and instances of restraint, One 15 year old wrote: 3″Lock down! We didn’t have enough members of staff to deal with all 1 1 of us – so breakfast in bed for us… Annie left today – she’s been in secure for 18 months- gave her a hug and she broke down in tears, I’m going to miss her.
” This showed that some children showed restraint and that they may of even enjoyed playing up the Taft, but even so they still were able to make friends so they didn’t feel alone, even though when children leave the units, it may be upsetting for the children.Family related reasons why a child may have to be removed from their families is that they may have a reconstituted family, the child may not get on with the new step parent or step siblings and may act up. For example showing anti-social behavior, like starting fights and playing up in school, it might get so bad that the parents cannot handle it anymore and the child has o be taken to somewhere else to help deal with the challenging behavior.Another Family related reason for a child being taking away would be that the parents could be neglecting that child. This could be of many reasons; if the parents are not financially stable they may not be able to support that child by giving them food, water and clothing. They could also be abusing us absences so they would not have the capacity to look after their children and fight their addictions.They may not also want to be parents, it could be a unplanned pregnancy in a teenager and they may not have much support or e able to handle their child.
A child related reason a child may have to be removed is that if they are aged between 1 1-17 years of age and they had committed a serious crime, they are not old enough to go to prison so they would be put into alternative forms until they reach the age of 1 8, this means they would not be a loud to stay at home anymore as they would be deemed a risk to the public.Another child related reason that the child may leave their home is if they had a serious illness or a disability, if it was a single arena for example they may not have the time or money to support a family, they may have other children, work and look after their ill or disabled child, this might mean that the child would be taking away to go somewhere where they would receive the correct treatment and help they need, this does not always mean that the child would never see their parents again.
The Overview of every week in Class Socy313 The Individual and Society
The Overview of every week in Class
Socy313 The Individual and Society is a course which focuses on the relationship between larger social forces and their impact on the individual. Implicitly the content of the course represents the reciprocal nature of society shaping the individual and the individual in a collective sense shaping society. Furthermore, the individual is to be seen as an active agent shaping oneself, contributing to maintaining the social order, as well as changing it. You will notice the emphasis on individual power only in terms of people banding together as opposed to some miraculous feat of a single isolated individual. Sociology is the study individuals only insofar as individuals interacting in society, in groups, and with others, real or imagined. In any case, the relationship between individual and society is a complex one, and I think it is fair to say that because society precedes the individual, it is far more likely to shape the individual than the reverse.
The following represents the high points for each week. Let’s take a look at the main points of week one:
The importance of connecting macro-level forces of society to micro-level or smaller units of society such as individuals in groups, communities and neighborhoods.
Socialization through institutional agencies (family, church, school, government) connects individuals to the larger society. Socialization doesn’t impact individuals uniformly for a number of reasons. One important reason is that each person perceives his or her life experiences differently. Also in a complex modern society with diverse groups and subcultures, there will be a host of intervening influences by virtue of social class, ethnicity and race.
The Sociological Imagination by C.Wright Mills offers a perspective on how the social forces impact the individual. The individual’s misery is observed in relation to the society’s social order or social structure.
As will be pointed out in this course, the works of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim are invaluable in understanding the workings of modern society.
The three major sociological perspectives are presented. They are Functionalism, Conflict Theory, and Symbolic Interactionism. Each one offers somewhat of a distinct view of society. Functionalism and conflict theory promote different assumptions about the nature of society. They offer different interpretations. They also complement each other in that they are both macro-level theories as well guide us in that a social order is maintained both by shared values(functionalism) and the use of coercion of the state (conflict theory). See, however, why I prefer conflict theory over functionalism. Symbolic Interactionism actually is useful in the study of micro-level interaction in small groups and the study of the self.
Week Two Social Order
Social Order represents an overall organization of a society. It is a structure to support conformity of the population to an existing political and economic system within society. That order is maintained by a combination of socialization of the young,force and persuasion. Propaganda through the mass media, owned by a handful of corporations, is used effectively to persuade the masses to believe in the existing system of consumerism, capitalism, and patriotism.
In addition, socialization of the young has a deep effect on the internalization of the culture. America might be typified as an advanced or modern society characterized by capitalism and democracy or some would say, empire because of its military dominance and because of its economic, scientific and technological influence on a global basis.
A social order might be seen as an example of an ideal type created in the minds of sociologists. It is a model of society and can become a method of comparing that construct to the real world wherein order and disorder coexist.
Any social order is man-made and can and will change. Evidence from human history is amply demonstrated. A democracy can become a dictatorship and the reverse.
A social order is maintained to the extent that individuals comply with the rules and laws through a combination of voluntary compliance and forced compliance. Voluntary compliance is preferred even in a dictatorship. Those in power must find ways through propaganda to stay in power. Propaganda is the art of deception and manipulation in politics or in advertising products.
Remember that a society can be quite orderly and be unjust at the same time. Economic inequality to a certain extent can be tolerated. Extreme inequality under the law, the violation of human or constitutional rights, cannot be maintained indefinitely.
Week Three Social Inequality, Social Stratification, Social Class
All societies are more or less unequal with respect to the distribution of scarce resources. These resources, using Weber’s social dimensions, are wealth/income, status, and power. We surmise that among primitive hunting and gathering societies where possessions were few food was equally shared among the tribal members. We further surmise status or honor was not equally shared but allotted perhaps according to division of labor. With status must have come an individual’s display of dominance in a tribal hierarchy.
There is much controversy today in the United States over economic inequality—the great gap in wealth and income between the amounts possessed by the 1% super-rich and the rest of the population. By the same token, there is much concern over child poverty and the poverty existing among certain subgroups, especially Black and Brown people. It is true on a number of measures that the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Among the advanced democratic, capitalist nations of the West, America ranks number one in economic inequality.
The umbrella term for systems of inequality in sociology is social stratification. The two systems are social caste and social class. It is appropriate to speak of the individual’s life chances in a stratification system. Social caste as determined say by religion, race, and by any other attribute at birth indicates movement out of that hereditary position is improbable. A social class system which is associated with a capitalist economy, permits upward mobility on the basis of acquiring wealth in one’s lifetime. Criteria are broadened in modern society with respect to acquisition of education/credentials which can elevate that person’s income and social status. It goes without saying that since opportunity varies depending on the individual’s family class ranking due to income, education, family connections and perhaps race, even in a social class system social mobility is limited for those persons starting at the bottom of the class hierarchy. Although there is still partial truth that America is a land of opportunity, this contradicts one of the myths of American culture that anybody can achieve high status and wealth with brains and persistence. While unlikely it is possible with the combination of chance, personal ability, and personal ambition to move from the lower class to the upper class as to wealth, social status and political power. The economic expansion of post-World War II opened up new avenues for social mobility. For a number of reasons social class lines are becoming more rigid to cross for upward mobility and easier to cross to move downward for the working class who have lost their well-paying union jobs in American factories. They have joined the working poor in low-wage service jobs. It is still possible to escape poverty and enter the middle-class for under-privileged youth by joining the military and or obtaining professional and technical credentials to compete successfully in the job market. To that extent America is a meritocracy.
Essentially the assumption of functionalist theory that it is functional for society to offer unequal financial rewards to attract the best and brightest is certainly spurious. Motivation to achieve goes beyond financial rewards including intrinsic interests and altruism. And how many persons with excellent potential never develop them because of the barriers of class, race, and gender?
Week Four The Power Dimension of Stratification/Political Power
Power in general may be defined in several ways: From Weber’s perspective the ability to get others to comply with your wishes and demands whether they approve of them or not. From Domhoff’s perspective “the capacity of some persons to produce intended and foreseen effects on others.” One could stretch this dimension to include the ability to control one’s own life. In retrospect it makes the most sense, sociologically, to understand the individual’s possession of power in relation to one’s position in a power structure of the larger society. Political power is the ability to use the apparatus of government(including the military and criminal justice) to influence and control the population towards certain goals and interests.
Marx’s conflict theory or perspective is very relevant here. His perspective in understanding power in a capitalist system has been to connect a political system with an economic one. And that is the formation of economic elites who influence the political system and make use of the instruments of government in their self-interests over the interests of the masses. The general proposition is that those elites who control the economy have much leverage in the corridors of government and government agencies. Historically that includes the military that protects and enhances interests of the owners and managers of the major multi-national corporations in their quest for profits and market shares in the global economy. Marx would say that war and capitalism go hand in hand. General Butler once said “war is a racket.”
It also should be brought out that Marx’s economic determinism doesn’t explain everything that is important about society. Weber emphasized culture and religion. Durkheim emphasized the moral order. Marx’s perspective is just that—a perspective and a powerful one to understand the politics of America in relation to economic elites. Martin Luther King was not a man of means. He owned little and never participated in electoral politics. His moral influence, however, was exceedingly powerful as man of faith and a man of vision. A great charismatic figure in American history. A proponent of non-violent protest against the injustices perpetrated by a power structure. He considered the capitalist system as a great evil.
C. Wright Mills and William Domhoff respectively are the key sociologists to help us understand the American power structure. Neither is considered a Marxist sociologist, but certainly emphasize the concentration of political power in the hands of a small proportion of the population. I call them elite theorists as opposed to pluralist theorists. I mean by that pluralists see the political power in our democracy as widely dispersed due to the diversity of interests and ideology. This implies that different interest groups have their turn to come into power, do their thing, and leave turning over their power to other groups. This circulation is reflected in the competition between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. As seen in the 20th century sometimes the Democrats win the presidency and also become the majority party in Congress and sometimes the Republicans win the presidency and become the majority part in Congress. And sometimes there is a mix where one party takes the presidency and the other party becomes the majority part in Congress. How nice. While Mills and Domhoff see the political system through the domination of elite players, their views differ as to the composition of the elites as the power players. For Mills it is the leaders of major institutions, big business, military, and government. For Domhoff his view is clearly focused on one elite, the economic elite that is a cohesive social class who also has a great deal of inherited wealth—the owners and managers of the major American corporations, the 0.5%-1% of the population. As Domhoff puts it, they dominate the power structure. They are most likely to benefit from the economic system. They tend to determine who should govern. They tend to win the battles over the bread and butters issues that mean the most to them—taxes, employee wages, and the weakening of union power. The super-rich are found in both major parties. While differences exist between the two major parties, the Democrats being liberal on social issues and the Republicans more conservative, the two compete for the same corporate money important in the electoral process. One may argue that the change from one party’s majority rule to the other is the illusion of pluralism and not a change in the fundamental nature of society dominated by capitalism and the super-rich.
The Supreme Court decision making money donations in politics a form of free speech makes it imperative to obtain corporate money over man on the street donations. A sorry blow to democracy.
Week Five Low-wage Service Work(fast foods, department stores, warehouses, senior home care, maid service)
Low-wage service work can be approached by sociologists in a number of different ways. It can be approached in the sociology of work, industrial sociology, or as an aspect of social class in a capitalist system. Marx is quite relevant here as to the historical class struggle between those who own the means of production and those forced to sell their labor at a disadvantage due to surplus labor—too many workers and not enough jobs. Weak or non-existent labor unions contribute to the powerlessness of low-wage service workers. By and large they have no scarce skills. Their bargaining power without a labor union behind it is non-existent. The ranks of service workers are ample in number with displaced factory workers, retirees, and immigrant labor. Deindustrialization of American manufacturing is relevant to the extent that blue-collar workers absent of scare skills and training fall into the ranks of the low-wage service workers.
Options are limited. Workers of all sorts, except for workers who provide human services, are replaced with technology. Robots can do only so much in preparing and serving food, assisting the elderly and sick, finding store items, and providing customer service in the English language. But who will speak for them collectively?
The disposability of these workers is part of a pattern. Some might call this a conspiracy of an economic elite to exert greater control of the American workforce, a workforce which cuts across the spectrum of all those people who must have jobs to survive and enjoy the fruits of our capitalist system. For a number of reasons I don’t fully understand, independent professionals practicing law and medicine are too joining group practices and bureaucratic organizations. Meanwhile the employment policies of a new business model is corporate flexibility and employee discipline. Marx lives! Cut labor costs and get workers to do more with fewer workers. This policy advocated by President Reagan applied to government and private employment. Eliminate full-time workers and replace them with part-time workers and contract workers. This reduces the cost of worker pensions and health care.
Ehrenreich’s book Nickel and Dimed published in 2001 is still current to show the plight of low-wage service workers. They epitomize what it’s like to work very hard and not earn enough money to have a decent standard of living for the individual worker and his or her family. For several months Ehrenreich went undercover to observe what it’s like for herself filling a variety of low-wage service jobs. She found this experience very rough going.
Week Six Sociology of Emotions, Capitalism and Human Relations, and Loneliness
In my continued emphasis to link larger social forces to the individual, I offered a speculation about connecting our current capitalistic system to the individual’s feelings toward oneself and toward other people. This was treated with a broad brush. I think it is an important area of research to explore. What are the possible outcomes on human relations due to an extremely unequal distribution of wealth and income? For one thing, poor people especially poor minorities residing in ghettos are socially and physically removed from the rest of society. (Middle-class white people are perhaps terrified to even by mistake drive into some of the urban ghetto neighborhoods) They represent, I think, what Dickens might have labeled the places for the “dangerous classes.” The inhabitants’ life chances are slim to escape those areas, though obviously some do. Race and class overlap with respect to segregation of the poor. Capitalism, American version, has a great impact because America’s safety net is so miserly towards the disadvantaged. Income and employment insecurity creates a sense of scarcity, such that the masses of people seem to struggle to maintain a middle-class life style having to worry about stretching their money until the next pay check. This does not engender, in my judgment, generosity, altruism and trust. The prevailing sense is “I’d better look out for myself and for my immediate family.”
The study of loneliness is a part of the study of the sociology of emotions. The subject matter is primarily associated with a micro-level of analysis. One might have to go back to the works of George Herbert Mead and Herbert Blumer in the establishment of Symbolic Interactionism as the basis for a sociological social psychology. More recently the sociology of emotions has been identified with the works of Erving Goffman and Arlene Hochschild. See in my lecture what Cacippio and Drumm had to say about loneliness and the ill-health consequences of loneliness.
Loneliness is one of those emotions that is hard to define but we know it when we feel it. It is a feeling of being cut off from others, a feeling of isolation and vulnerability that can evoke depression or a panic attack. I referred to objective conditions in terms of causal factors such as the lack of the presence of significant others who care about us and understand us. See some of the questions in the University of California Los Angeles Loneliness Scale. Subjective factors have to do with how the individual interprets the presence or absence of significant others in one’s immediate environment and in one’s life. It is sad indeed when one feels consistently lonely in the presence of a spouse. Also to be taken into account are individual differences in the need for human contact and the need to be around other people.
Loneliness can be a serious mental and physical health problem for individuals in certain situations; young mothers stuck in the home with small, sick children; the elderly; soldiers of either gender separated from their loved ones.
I speculated on my personal observation when I returned to the United States after teaching for UMUC in Germany during the l980’s. In Germany I got used to Germans being blunter and more honest and less paranoid with strangers. I could be completely wrong but I sensed Americans were more superficially friendly but on a more deeper level more suspicious of strangers. I felt more alienated in my own country. This got me interested in the study of loneliness. Do societies vary as to the extent social environments are conducive to be open or closed to strangers. Or is this a matter of small towns versus big cities? What are the social factors to feel comfortable with strangers in public? Gemeinschaft and Gesselschaft? The new social norm of appearing friendly but keeping strangers at a distance and minding your own business.
The seminal work by Putnam “Bowling Alone” seems to have a factual basis for people feeling alienated in their communities with respect to the breakdown of community activities—people spending more time at home using their computers and the like, alone.
Week Seven Science, Technology, and McDonaldization in the Modern Age
One of the burning questions in sociology is how is modern society changing? Is modern society changing so greatly that we are shifting into something completely different, post-modernity as it were. I don’t see it that way. There is no consensus among sociologists about that, and I’m not particularly interested whether we are now in a post-modern era. I’m mostly interested in identifying fundamental characteristics of modern society as reflected by our own. For want of a better name, let’s call this an age of rationality. Here we turn to the thinking of Max Weber.
As I see it modern society is highlighted by rationality with its emphasis on control and efficiency allegedly to help humankind make life better, easier, and less painful. Isn’t that what our technology, our labor saving devices, to do? The joker in this pursuit is maybe explained by the concept of Osgood’s cultural lag. Problem solving through science and technology do benefit humankind in many ways to live longer, more free, more productive, and healthier lives. In the same breath science and technology create weapons of mass destruction and nuclear energy generation, either of which accidents could kill off our species. Moreover consumer capitalism with its insatiable drive to buy and consume will endanger the world through the use of fossil fuels and thus effect dangerous climate change—making our planet eventually uninhabitable. The lag is humankind hasn’t learned to keep up with the advances in science and technology. We have the brains to develop this knowledge without knowing how to control its implementation.
Then the question is control and efficiency for what? Knowledge as indicated produces desirable and undesirable outcomes. Those undesirable outcomes are not always predictable, but the ways in which a society is organized can increase their probabilities. A nation geared for war and using much of its resources for weaponry will most likely end up with disastrous outcomes. Similarly a society oriented to consumer capitalism will benefit an economic elite to the detriment and lack of development of the general population, who are obsessed with the latest gadgets. I repeat the question: control and efficiency for what?
Where does Ritzer’s concept of McDonaldization fit here? It is connected to Weber’s concept of rationality with respect to efficiency and control—instrumental rationality—the best means to reach a given goal. Means/ends relationship. It embodies the processes of bureaucracy and mass production via the industrial assembly line. Mass production is what it says it is, the goal of producing and dispensing great quantity of things rather than quality. This is good insofar as the process satisfies the material needs of large populations. Let no one go hungry or be homeless, or lack clothing, and similarly in our mass society let’s make sure all senior citizens get their Social Security checks on time through an efficient mail service. Let’s make sure our veterans get their medications through an efficient VA system. Let’s make sure the IRS efficiently hunts down the corporate tax cheats to ensure they pay their fair share of taxes, and you and I receive our tax refunds when we should.
The downside of McDonaldization is first of all the dehumanizing effects on those who work in assembly line settings. In my judgment Ritzer didn’t intend to have the reading public to be preoccupied with the production of hamburgers and French fries. He emphasizes McDonaldization as a rational process generalizable to all forms of human activity whether that activity happens to be cooking hamburgers or teaching children their ABC’s. By definition the process requires routinization and the uniformity of performing the work and the uniformity of the product. It’s not that human beings are replaced by machines or by robots. Humans are reduced to machines as to how they must perform their dreary, repetitive work. Is it true that Wal-mart teaches employees how to greet customers and when to smile?
The downside second of all from the standpoint of the power of corporate dollars, is to dramatically alter the landscape, and the esthetic tastes of Americans to make them more stupid and less sensitive and discriminating as to what they hear, think, eat or see. The physical landscape becomes more uniform and dull with the proliferation of chain stores and restaurants, and suburban malls that all look alike. It is an ongoing battle to keep yet another Walmart store out of the city when the marketplace is dominated by corporate money and influence.
Ritzer does indicate that there are limits to McDonaldization with regards to human activities carried out by workers, self-employed and employed who are able to use their creativity. He doesn’t, however, make the distinction between two different organizational models. On one hand, we have the factory model where workers are closely watched and controlled to perform very narrow repetitive tasks. If they resist they are fired because they are a dime a dozen. The other model is created for the scientific and high tech community found say at NIH or in Silicon Valley. The workers there with their scarce skills demand autonomy and freedom of movement and communication. I should also add a new phenomenon and that being certain traditional professions are being reorganized in bureaucratic organizations—physicians, lawyers and university professors, to name a few, by the increasing power of managers and administrators. These professional groups struggle to maintain their integrity and autonomy in relation to heavy-handed bureaucrats.
Week Eight Globalization and Its Uneven Effects
Globalization is an outgrowth of world trade that’s been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years. It is not new. What is new is the vast scale of world trade, and the technology that makes possible the movement of people, goods, money, information, and technology—movement transcending national borders. This is an integration of human activity heretofore unknown in the history of humankind, as to its scope. And it goes on despite the rivalry of nations and the lack of a truly world government. The UN can do only so much to settle conflicts between nations and to come to the aid of poor nations in crises. Be that it may humankind hasn’t arrived at the point of its evolution to solve the global problems of war, overpopulation, poverty, and climate change. We can’t know, however, what the future holds. New conditions, new world leadership could result in a stronger global institution. Big question mark.
Here is the definition I used in my lecture on globalization: Globalization is defined as the world-wide integration and interdependence of nations, economies, governmental and non-governmental organizations, technologies, and information that together transcend a nation’s boundaries and impact individuals within it.
Because of technology and other related factors, what happens in one part of the world migrates to other parts of the world. The world economy seems to work that way. Conditions in one part of the world such as the burning of fossil fuels can affect climatic conditions in other parts of the world. People infected with diseases from their home environment transmit those disease elsewhere when they travel abroad—consider the AID’s epidemic. We are truly our brothers’ keepers.
Certain historical events have stimulated global changes regarding trade, cultural exchange, and new interaction between peoples. Much of the interaction has involved conquest of Third World peoples by Western nations possessing superior weapons, This is called colonialism. Greed and ethnocentrism have led Western nations to rule and exploit non-Western peoples. In part the 20th century may be seen as the break up of empires whereby former colonies gain their independence from mother countries. India and Vietnam are examples of former colonies becoming independent nations—India from England and Vietnam from France. Unfortunately, the United States in its confusion over the spread of communism, attempted to intervene regarding stopping Vietnam’s struggle for nationhood. Stupidly the United States replaced France. What a waste in American blood and money.
When we say the effects of globalization are uneven, what do we mean? For one thing the effects of globalization are uneven because the nations of the world are at different stages of development to begin with. Although the gap in some respects are getting smaller between Western nations and Third World nations, countries of the latter are playing catch up in terms of the industrial revolution and democratic institutions. Nations such as England, Germany, and the United States had their industrial revolution over 150 years ago. Former colonies and victims of European conquest such as India and China are trying to catch up. China has made a great leap forward in becoming the manufacturing hub of the world. The low wages among Chinese workers have made it attractive for Western nations to have their manufacturing done there rather than at home. This I suppose has been good for poor Chinese villagers to find jobs in the big industrial cities, but at the expense of jobs lost in the United States and other Western countries. Germany, however, with the most powerful economy in the European Union has been better able to maintain its manufacturing base and its export of high quality consumer goods.
The world is changing—no doubt about that. The United States is being challenged increasingly so by China, India, Brazil, and Russia. The United States has chosen for reasons I don’t fully understand to make Russia its enemy by the movements of NATO into the former Soviet Union satellite countries to directly threaten Russia militarily. China and Russia meanwhile are designing building a new “Silk Road” high speed train system linking Western Europe, Russia, and China. The United States is going to be left out.
Multi-national corporations are the engines in the global capitalist economy. Where does the individual fit in this global scheme? Life chances are much better for those living in the West than those living in the Third World, depending of course on whether those fortunate individuals in the Third World are members of the upper-class in their respective country. Changes are incremental with the formation of an enlarged middle-class growing in China and India, a middle-class that will seek to enjoy the benefits of their developing economies comparable to what the middle-class in the West have experienced. Will all the Third World countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America catch up to the United States and Western Europe? Probably not.The future is still grim for millions of very poor people living in rural India and drought-plagued countries in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Much of Africa suffers from a lack of infrastructure, electricity. The continent is rich in natural resources including water to be harnessed for hydroelectricity. Lack of investment funding is a problem. Meanwhile we don’t know what will be the dire effects of climate change with respect to areas of drought and flooding.
The wars in Syria and Libya have had a significant impact on the world in two respects. Not only are we observing the death of thousands of people but the wars have caused an immigration crisis both in terms of the desperate displaced persons lack of resources as they flee their home countries but also on the political ramifications in Europe and the United States. These so called unwanted persons are creating a political opportunity for right-wing demagogues to gain political power in their countries by stigmatizing those immigrant groups. We see it happening in France and the United States to the needy and oppressed. (Have we forgotten the U.S. role in the creation of those wars?)
The poor in Latin America are faring better in those nations that have turned away from military dictatorships to democracy
In my lecture on globalization I have included notes from Ritzer’s book on the McDonalidzation concept. I have tried to make clear the distinction between globalization and McDonaldization. For years, incidentally this book was a required textbook for this course. It is one thing to say that McDonalds corporation is found throughout the world, but that doesn’t mean it is identical or synonymous with globalization. McDonald’s is a restaurant chain that is a successful, multi-national American corporation. That it’s franchises are found in so many countries would suggest its popularity and influence around the world.
McDonald’s is an outgrowth of globalization, however, not the other way around. One of my main criticisms is that the book conveys the impression that American companies can go where they wish to invest and set up a restaurant. That either gives a false impression as to its power to do what it wishes but there is no discussion about the role of the nation state which has the prerogative to invite or keep out any foreign company wishing to do business. This mis-educates students with regards to separating an economy from government and politics.
Russia, for example, in retaliation to sanctions from the European Union has banned cheese products imported from members of the European Union. I’m sure there are many examples present and past of the relationship between foreign companies and respective governments around the world. There are multi-national companies whose wealth is greater than the economies of whole nations, but nevertheless must abide by the decisions of a nation’s rulers in order to do business there.
I should also add, without being contradictory, that trade agreements such as NAFTA and TPP(Trans Pacific Partnership) can weaken the autonomy of nation states in controlling their own economies. These trade agreements greatly benefit corporate interests to the detriment of governmental protections of their workers. Through such trade agreements, companies have the right to sue governments for their loss of profits if those regulations reduce their profits. This is an example of government rulers and corporations working together to the detriment of rank and file citizens. Evidently NAFTA has been harmful to American workers and so will most likely TPP. Once again we see the distinction between what is good for multi-national corporations may not be good for the American people.
Finally, the most urgent problems for the world are the threats of nuclear war, nuclear plant accidents and catastrophic climate change.
America considers itself the leader of the world. Will our country fulfill that mission to lead the world in solving those urgent problems? That leadership role, however, presupposes a cooperative role not a dominating one via military power. The doctrine of neo-liberalism is a deadly one with respect to greed and aggression.