Society and Culture in Informal

EDD 5229
Liberal Studies in Knowledge Society
Lecture 5
Understanding the Curriculum Content of Liberal Studies I:
Society and Culture in Informal-Global System
A. Understanding Area II in NSS Liberal Studies
1. In search of a cognitive schema to make sense of Area II: Society and Culture
a. The three modules of the Area
i. Hong Kong Today
ii. Modern China
iii. Globalization
b. The dialectic between globalization and local context of HK & China
i. Globalization as a process of “annulment of temporal/spatial distances”
(Bauman, 1998, p.18).
ii. “Hong Kong today” and “modern China” as social entities of particular time
and place.
c. The dialectic between HKSAR and sovereign China
i. Dialectic between “One Country and Two Systems”
ii. Dialectics between two governmental systems
iii. Dialectics between two legal civil systems
iv. Dialectics between two economic systems
v. Dialectics between two cultural systems
2. Dialectics in institutional perspective
a. Globally mobile institutions vs. locally embedded institutions
b. Institutional dialectics between the sovereignty of PRC and the autonomy of
c. Institutional dialectics between bureaucratic-authoritarian state and liberal and
democratizing state
d. Institutional dialectics between socialism with Chinese characteristics and
liberal “Chinese” capitalism
e. Institutional dialectics between civil society of bureaucratic-authoritarian
traditionalism in mainland China and civil society of liberal-instrumental
colonialism in HK
1 1
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Liberal Studies in Knowledge Society
As annulment of
temporal/spatial distances
Dialectic 1
As a social entity of
specific time & space
HK Today
Two Systems
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Liberal Studies in Knowledge Society
Post-national economy
Global emigrant society
Post-sovereign state
Hollowed government
Post-traditional society
Hybrid cultures
Flexible family
“Classless” society
Dialectic 3
One nationality
One sovereign state
Two governmental administrations
Two civil-legal systems
Two public spheres
Two civil societies
Two cultures/mass-media institutions
Dialectic 2
As a social entity of
specific time & space
Modern China
One Country
2 2
B. Understanding “Impact of Globalization and Related Response”: Formulation of
the Issue
1. What is globalization?
2. On what does globalization impact?
3. Who or what will respond to globalization and how?
C. Understanding Globalization
1. Debate on the origins of globalization
a. A.G. Frank & Grill (1993) World History Perspective: Globalization
originated 5000 year ago, i.e. in 3000, in Mesopotamia when supralocal
exchange systems began to take shape.
b. Braudel (1979) & Wallerstein (1974) World-system Approach: Originated
from the 16th century, mercantile capitalism first emerged in coastal cities in
the Mediterranean sea.
c. J. W. Meyer (1979) World Polity Perspective: Originated from the late 18th
& early 19th century and the constitution of inter-state competition world
d. M. Castell (1996) & M. Carnoy (2000) Global IT Economy Perspective:
Originated from 1970s as technological breakthrough in microelectronics,
telecommunication, and micro-computer.
2. The advent of the Informational-Global paradigm
The infrastructure of IT paradigm: It was a series of technological
breakthroughs in the mid-1970s that had laid the technological foundation of IT
paradigm in global scale.
a. The development of microelectronics: Invention of the microprocessor in
b. The development of computers: Construction of microcomputer around the
microprocessor in 1976
c. The development of telecommunication:
i 1970s, telecommunication turned from analog to digital transmissions
ii 1970s, the development of optoelectronics (fiber optics and laser
iii. These two technological breakthroughs constituted the two building
blocks of the so-called Information Superhighway in the 1990s
3. Definition of globalization: In connection to the advent of the
informational-global paradigm, the globalization at the end of the twentieth
century has outgrown its ancestors in bridging if not annulling the temporal
and spatial distances between human societies and cultures
i. David Harvey (1989) in The Condition of Postmodernity has simply
defines globalization as “time-space compression”. It signifies
“processes that so revolutionize the objective qualities of space and
time that we are force to alter … how we represent the world to
ourselves.” (p. 240)
ii. Anthony Giddens (1994) in The Consequences of Modernity indicates
that “globalization is really about the transformation of space and time.
I would define it as action at distance, and relate its growth over recent
years to the development of means of instantaneous global
communication and mass transportation.” (1994, p. 22)
iii. Zygmunt Bauman (1998): Globalization as “annulment of
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Foundations of Disciplinary Knowledge and General Education
temporal/spatial distances” (1998, p.18).
iv. Manuel Castells (1996): Castells defines globalization as a process "to
overcome limits of time and space." (Castells, 1996, p. 92-93) As a
result, it enables human institutions, such as the economy, and
organization, such as the firm, "to work as a unit in real time on a
planetary scale." (Castells, 1996, p. 92)
v. Ulrich Beck (2000): "Globalization…denotes the process through which
sovereign national states are criss-cross and undermined by
transnational actors with varying prospects of power, orientations,
identities and networks." (Beck, 2000, p. 11)
D. Impacts of Globalization on Social Institutions
1. Castells underlines two essential consequences of globalization. They are
a. Space of flow: Manuel Castells (1996) underlines that one of the profound
features brought about by the global-informational infrastructure is the
separation of simultaneous social practices from physical contiguity, that is
time-sharing social practices are no long embedded in locality of close
proximity and/or within finite boundary. As a result, the traditional notion of
space of places has been transformed into space of flows. In informational
network, such as the internet, "no place exists by itself, since the positions
are defined by flows." There is practically no boundary, no concepts of
center or periphery, no beginning or end. It is all but flows.
b. Timeless time: Castells also underlines that the global-Informational
infrastructure has also transform the conception of time in human society.
Time is no longer comprehended in terms of localities around the globe
according to the international time-zones. Human activities around the
global can be coordinated "simultaneously" in disregard of conception of
local time, such as morning, evening, late at night, etc. Furthermore, with
the aid of IT, the conventional linear, sequential, diachronic concepts of
time has been disturbed. "Timing becoming synchronic inflate horizon, with
no beginning, no end, no sequence." (Castells, 1996, p. 74)
2. Economic consequences of globalization
a. The advent of informational-global economy
“A new economy has emerged in the last two decades on a worldwide
scale. I call it information and global to identify its fundamental distinctive
features and to emphasize their intertwining.
i. It is informational because the productivity and competitiveness of units
or agents in this economy (its firms, regions, or nations) fundamentally
depend upon their capacity to generate, process, and apply efficiently
knowledge-based information.
ii. It is global because the core activities of production, consumption, and
circulation, as well as their components (capital, labor, raw materials
management, information, technology, market) are organized on a
global scale. Either directly or through a network of linkages between
economic agents.” (Castell, 1996, p. 66)
b. The growing influences of international organizations, such as WTO (World
Trade Organization), IMF (International Monetary Fund), World Bank, etc;
and multinational corporations in global economic affairs.
c. The retreat of the economic nationalism: Economic nationalism, a common
label for economic policies implemented by national governments since the
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Foundations of Disciplinary Knowledge and General Education
WWII, is shrinking rapidly. Economic policies such as tariff protectionism,
subsidizing national industrial and agricultural sectors, exchange-rate of
national currency, etc. have lost its leveraging power in face of global
competitions and the interventions from international control over
international organizations and multi-national corporations.
d. The constitution of flexibility and compatibility in economic processes:
Confronted by global competitions and intervention, economic units and
agents (nations, regions, firms and even individual workers) must transform
themselves in two fundamental ways.
i. Flexibility: By flexibility, it refers to the state of affairs in which “not only
processes are reversible, but organizations and institutions can be
modified, and even fundamentally altered, by rearranging their
components. What is distinctive to the configuration of the new
technological paradigm is its ability to reconfigure, a decisive feature in
a society characterized by constant change and organizational fluidity.
Turning the rules upside down without destroying the organization has
become a possibility, because the material basis of the organization can
be reprogrammed and uprooted.” (Castells, 1996, p. 62) In production,
traditional rigid gigantic assembly lines have given way to “easy-to
program production units that can be sensitive to variations in the
market (product flexibility) and in the changes of technological output
(process flexibility). (p. 155)
ii. Compatibility: It refers to another feature in informational-global
economy that agents can no longer operating in “self-contained and
self-sufficient” units. They must find ways to integrate into the
global-informational systems. To do that, the unit itself must re-engineer
to become more compatible and convertible, more specifically turn itself
to be a global hub to fit all shape and size.
3. Social consequences of globalization:
a. Concept of virtual community:
i. Dissolve of the temporal-spatial foundations of social community:
“The so-called 'closely knit communities' of yore were … brought into
being and kept alive by the gap between the nearly instantaneous
communication inside the small-scale community and the enormity of
time and expense needed to pass information between locality. On the
other hand, the present-day and short life-span of communities appears
primarily to be the result of the gap shrinking or altogether disappearing:
inner-community communication has no advantage over
inter-communal exchange, if both are instantaneous.” (Bauman, 1998,
ii. The advent of the virtual community: The new form of community
emerges in the cyberspace of the Internet. Howard Rheingold has
called it the virtual community.
“Virtual communities are social aggregations that emerge from the Net
when enough people carry on those public discussions long enough,
with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationship in
cyberspace.” (Rheingold, 1989, p.3)
b. Concept of flexible work and flexible family
i. The concept of flexible work: “With increased competition in the
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Foundations of Disciplinary Knowledge and General Education
globalized economy and the rapidly rising capacity to use ‘world time’ to
enhance productivity, the very best workers are now those who never
sleep, never consume, never have children, and never spend time
socializing outside of work.” (Carnoy, 2000, p.143) They are required to
- Flexible in work schedule as well as work duration
- Flexible in work locations as well as positions
- Flexible in work conditions, flexibility has replaced fixed-term contract
and long-term commitment between employers and employees
ii. The concept of flexible family: The post-WWII stable family structure,
which based on stable employment of the male head, has
fundamentally changed in response to the advent of flexible work
condition in informational-global economy. The very structure of one of
the fundamental primary group in human society has to go flexible. That
is working couple working in flexible schedules, in flexible locations, and
on flexible work conditions. As a result, the very social functions of
family institution, i.e. provision of emotional and knowledge-formation
supports, are under serious threats.
4. Cultural consequences of globalization
a. Legitimation crisis of cultural maintenance: One of the most profound
impacts of globalization on culture is that it brings cultures, which are
supposed to be self-legitimized, self-explained, and self-justified systems of
meanings, in close contact. Each culture can no longer constitute and
maintain its legitimation in isolation by cognitively explaining and normative
justifying itself within its particular local contexts. They are force to rebuild
its legitimation basis in global-informational context.
b. The concept of post-traditional society:
i. The concept of tradition can be defined as collective memories and
rituals passed on through passage of time within a culture. (Giddens,
1994a, p. 63-64)
ii. “A post-tradition social order…is not one in which tradition disappears far from it. It is one in which tradition changes its status. Traditions have
to explain themselves, to become open to interrogation or discourse. …
In a globalizing, culturally cosmopolitan society, traditions become
forced into open view: reasons or justifications have to be offered for
them.” (Giddens, 1994b, p.23)
c. The rise of fundamentalism in global-informational age:
"The rise of fundamentalism has to be seen against the backdrop of the
emergence of the post-traditional society. … What is fundamentalism? It is,
so I shall argue, nothing other than tradition defended in the tradition way but where that mode of defence has become widely called into question. …
In a globally cosmopolitan order … such a defence become dangerous,
because essentially it is a refusal of dialogue." (Giddens, 1994, p.23)
d. The advent of global consumer culture:
i. The proliferation of mass consumption, mass communication and mass
media in global scale has spawned the global culture of consumerism.
As a result, the global convergence of cultures based globalized
commodity items, international brand names, world-wide life styles, etc.
ii. As a result, a global-common way of life for globally mobile psyche
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begins to emerge
- Hoilday-Inn-ization
- Starbucks-ization
- MacDonold-ization
- Nike-ization
- Hollywood-ization
- Disneyland-ization
5. Effects of Globalization on cultural and social identity
a. Impact on cultural-temporal identity: Modern cultural identity, which refers
to the sense of belonging accumulated through life-time of individual
members of a culture and through historical-time of a national and societal
culture, has given way to a new form of identity in global culture of
consumerism. Individual’s self-image, self-representation, self-esteem as
well as sense of belonging are no longer derived from one’s nationality,
ethnicity, cultural heritage, but are based on commodity items one possess,
the life style one lead, the “look” one present.
b. Impact on social-spatial identity: Modern social identity, which refers to the
sense of belonging nurtured by frequent and intensive contacts with
socio-spatial groupings, has rapid lost its footing in informational-global
context. As space of place turn into space of flow, individuals are free to
select their social affiliations in global scale through the internet or even
physically migrate to any locality of their choice if their can afford it.
c. The concept of network individualism: Manuel Castells indicates in his work
The Internet Galaxy that identity is the information age can be
characterized as network individualism. “Networked individualism is a
social pattern, not a collection of isolated individuals. Rather, individuals
build their networks, on-line and off-line, on the basis of their interests,
values, affinities, and projects.” (Castells, 2001, p. 131) It is basically a
virtual identity in the virtual community of the Internet in self discretion.
d. The concept of pure relationship (please refers to notes of Lecture 6).
E. Impact of Globalization on Political Institutions: The Nation-State
1. Conception of the Industrial Welfare State (IWS)
a. The essence of economic nationalism
i. National tariff policy and trade protectionism
ii. National exchange policy
iii. The developmental state thesis for Asian later comers
- National development as dominant objectives of economic policy
- State policies and mechanisms intervening industrial development
- Export-led industrialization
b. The essence of corporatist and welfare state
i. Development of welfare services as forms of social wages, public
housing, public health and public education
ii. Corporatist state mediating negotiations between big corporations and
labor unions
iii. Public and unemployment assistances as compensation for market
2. Bob Jessop’s thesis of the Keynesian Welfare National State (KWNS)
a. Keynesian: It signifies the orientation of economic policies of the state,
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Foundations of Disciplinary Knowledge and General Education
which aims “to secure full employment in a relatively closed national
economy and to do so mainly through demand-side management” (Jessop,
1999, p. 350) such as increase in government expenditure.
b. Welfare: It signifies the orientation of social policies of the state, which
aims to facilitate the process of reproduction of labor power for capitalistic
economy. They mainly take the forms of provision of social wages, such as
education and training, housing, medical services, other forms of social
c. National: It indicates the scale of provision of economic and social policies
is confined “within the historically specific (and social constructed) matrix of
a national economy, a national state, and a society seen as comprising
national citizens.” (ibid)
d. State: It signifies that statist orientation, which assumes the efficiency of
state institutions in supplementing, facilitating, and coordinating economic
and social policies within the state boundary.
3. The erosion of economic nationalism and the the advent of the competition
a. The dominance of international institutions, e.g. WTO, MIF, World Bank,
b. Philip Cerny’s conception of competition state:
i. “Globalization as a political phenomenon basically means that the
shaping of the playing field of politics is increasing determined not
within insulated units, i.e. relatively autonomous and hierarchically
organized structures called states; rather, it derives from a complex
congeries of multilevel games played on multi-layered institutional
playing field, above and across, as well as within, state boundaries.”
(Cerny, 1997, p.253)
ii. “Rather than attempt to take certain economic activities out of the
market, to ‘decommodifiy’ them as the welfare state in particular was
organized to do, the competition state has pursued increased
marketization in order to make economic activities located within the
national territory, or which otherwise contribute to national wealth, more
competitive in international and transnational terms.” (2000, p. 122-23)
c. Policy features of competition state
i. Erosion of economic nationalism
ii. Retreat of the welfare state
iii. Collapse of societal corporatism between labor and capital
iv. The advent of fragmented state and the process of hallowing out the
state by means of privatization, corporationization and marketization
iv. Compliance to the imperatives of global competitions, multinational
corporations and transnational agencies of governance
4. Bob Jessop’s conception of Schumpeterian Workfare Postnational Regime
a. Schumpeterian: It signifies the replacement of Keynesian orientation in
economic policy by the Schumpeterian orientation, which aims “to promote
permanent innovation and flexibility in relative open economies by
intervening on the supply-side and to strengthen as far as possible their
structural and/or systemic competitiveness.” (Jessop, 1999, 355) In other
words, the goal of securing full employment in economic policy has been
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Foundations of Disciplinary Knowledge and General Education
overshadowed if not completely replaced by the objective of promoting
b. Workfare: It indicates that the welfare orientation in social policy has been
superseded by the policy orientation, which focuses on subordinating the
logic of social policies to that of economic policies, submitting the demand
of social welfare to the demands of labour market flexibility, the imperative
of workplace, and the strive for structural or systemic competitiveness.
c. Postnational: It signifies the withering of the sovereignty of nation-state
over economic and social policies within its national territory. It also
indicates the prominence of international agencies, such as the IMF, World
Bank, OECD etc, in determining economic and social policies at national
d. Regime: It indicates that phenomenon of “hollowing out” of the state, which
has been undertaken in capitalist states in the past three decades. It also
implies the proliferation of non-governmental or even private agencies in
the sector of public-policy provisions. As a result, the cohesive and
coercive capitalist states have given way to the governance of policy
F. Impact of Globalization on Political Institutions: Political Participation
1. Erosion of the basis of national democracy
a. Democracy as unity of identity of the people has been threatened by
mobile and virtual identity of global citizenship
b. Democracy as representation of the people has been threatened by
representations of international organizations
c. Democracy as measure of democratic rule of the people has been
threatened by rule of international laws and organizations
2. The politics of the Internet:
a. Transformation of the nature of social movement: The emergence of
network social movement
i. Replacement of material-based or even class-based social movement
of the Cold-War era by post-material social movement or movement
mobilized by cultural values. Replacement of struggles of space of
place, e.g. class struggle, “position war” by struggle of space of flow,
e.g. struggle for cultural ideas
ii. Replacement of vertically integrated organization, such as political
parties, trade unions, by horizontally connected, loosely coalized,
semi-spontaneously mobilized networks
iii. Social movement are elevating from local political arena to global
context by means of the technological infrastructure of the Internet and
the symbolic superstructure of the global culture
b. The Transformation of civil society
i. Formation of citizen networks: New forms of civil associations have
emerged in the Internet
ii. The emergence of cyber public-sphere and check-and-balance
mechanism operating through the Internet
iii. Paradoxically, the Internet also brings about the “prevalence of ‘scandal
politics’” (Castells, 2001, p. 157) and the degradation of the “public”
from a group of rational and critical deliberators of public issues to a
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Foundations of Disciplinary Knowledge and General Education
bunch of spectators on public shows
c. Changes in the political ecology through the Internet
i. The constitutions of informational warfare and cyber-guerilla-warfare:
“The more a government and a society depend on their advanced
communications network, the more likely they become exposed to
(informational) attacks. Furthermore, unlike conventional or nuclear
warfare, these attacks could be launched by individual hackers, or by
small, able groups, who could escape detection or retaliation.” (Castells,
2001, p. 158-9)
ii. The rise of “noopolitik”: The concept of noopolitik generates from the
Greek word noos for ‘the mind’ (Ronfeldt and Arquilla, , 1997). It “refers
to the political issues and the political activities arising from the
formation of a ‘noosphere’, or global information environment, which
includes cyberspace and all other information systems. Noopolitik can
be contrast with realpolitik (and its underlying military power). …In a
world characterized by global interdependence and shaped by
information and communication, the ability to act on information flows
and on media messages, become an essential tool for fostering a
political agenda.” (Castells, 2001, p. 160) As a result, public diplomacy
has become a new department in international diplomacy.
iii. Swarming operation and the flash mobs: “‘Swarming’ represents a
sharp departure from military concepts based on massive build-ups of
fire power, armored hardware, and large concentrations of troops. It
calls for small, autonomous units, provided with high fire power, good
training, and real-time information. These ‘pods’ would form ‘clusters’
able to concentrate on an enemy target for a small fraction of time,
inflicting major damage, and dispersing.” (Castells, 2001, 161)
Analogues to this ‘network-centric warfare’ at the grassroots level is the
flash mob.
G. Hong Kong Today
H. Modern China
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Foundations of Disciplinary Knowledge and General Education
W.K. Tsang
Foundations of Disciplinary Knowledge and General Education
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