Globalization: The Essentials

February 24, 2011

Author: George Ritzer

Edition: First

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Pages: 368

Price: £60.00 and £19.99

ISBN 9780470655603 and 5610

Along with the widespread and now-longstanding popular discussions of globalisation, an increasing number of textbooks - and even resource packages that include textbooks designed to be used together with readers and other web-based resources - are being produced on the subject.

This book is in this vein - indeed, it is actually an abridged version of a much longer volume, Globalization: A Basic Text, which was published at the end of 2009. The rationale for this abridged version is that it is affordable and can be assigned alongside other texts written for courses on globalisation and as a subsidiary text on more general social science courses. There is also a companion reader designed to be used in tandem with it and its longer sister volume.

Although the study of globalisation has been avowedly interdisciplinary, the disciplinary origins of authors are often evident in the coverage and approach used in their writing. To some extent the same is true of this volume, but in a generally positive way. The author is primarily a sociologist. He is US-based and best known for his work on "McDonaldization" and the "globalization of nothing".

Perhaps not surprisingly, this volume has a more comprehensive and sophisticated discussion of culture, hybridisation, postcolonialism and the ideational aspects of globalisation than many texts written by political economists. But the coverage of the political economy of globalisation is also extensive, spanning the major global economic structures and flows (indeed, the notion of flows is key to the volume).

Where those from a politics/international relations background might notice a lack is in the somewhat meagre coverage of the politics of globalisation - particularly the politics of global civil society - as this comprises only one chapter out of 12. But this is a small issue, really. And, unusually, the volume does deal explicitly with gender - there is a seven-page section, out of a total of 322 pages, on the topic. (However, none of the 46 readings in the companion reader is on gender.) This is a rather better record than most political economists (who are renowned for ignoring gender even today) can manage.

Overall, the volume is well written and accessible. It contains all the usual text boxes, discussion points and chapter summaries that are now customary in textbooks aimed at undergraduates. However, I did find it somewhat surprising that there were no photos or illustrations, given the coverage of culture.

Even in such a crowded market, this volume does therefore serve as a useful addition to the burgeoning number of textbooks.

Who is it for? Social science undergraduates at all levels.

Presentation: Clear and accessible.

Would you recommend it? A useful purchase for those studying globalisation at university.

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