Globalisation designates a process of increasing interdependence at an international scale and at the political, economic, social, cultural and communicational levels. If, on the one hand, supranational organisations, as well as the economic fluxes of globalised capital, question the borders of the Nation-State, on the other hand the speed of electronic communication threatens a strictly delimited time and space and introduces the instantaneity of human experience. However, as the world becomes increasingly globalised, the search for meanings has lead to a rooting of identity, the result being the creation of bolsas insulares. McLuhan’s global village, which was to lead human perception to a synesthesic stage – one of a bigger balance between the five senses –, thus remains conditioned by inequalities in capital distribution, access to new technologies and their use within a given community.
Globalisation designates a process of increasing interdependence at an international scale and at the political, economic, social, cultural and communicational levels. The creation of regional and supranational organisations makes it impossible to think of any society in terms of a strictly internal dynamics in the present, thus questioning the classic concepts of sovereign Nation-State and national identity. This erosion of a delimited space and time leads us towards a ‘global village’ which is characterised by a space and time simultaneity that derives from the speed of communication as operated by electronic media, facilitating the link between individuals who do not inhabit the same physical space (McLuhan, 1964: 3, 138). The effects of human action on a global scale are experienced almost instantaneously, as if they occurred within the contexts in which one is inserted.
If this situation may lead the individual to become responsible for the world he lives in at a globalised level, thus overcoming his local community, it may also symbolise the intertwining between local and global which characterises the so-called ‘glocalisation’ (Wellman, 2002). As the world becomes increasingly globalised and interdependent, the search for meanings has led to a rooting of identity, the result being the creation of insular pockets (Castells, 1996: 3-4). In fact, within a context of an increasing permeability of national borders, there have been multiple manifestations of ethnical conflicts, religious fundamentalism and exacerbated nationalism. One cannot understand how the old modalities of cultural specificity – among which are religion and nationalism – have survived the enlightened rationalism of modernity. What one can witness is that the more perfected forms of modern capitalism on a global scale are constantly dividing societies into advanced and less advanced sectors, in an endless process (Hall, 1991: 30).
Globalisation therefore comes as a non-homogeneous phenomenon, as peripheries resisting globalised decentring pervade within it. McLuhan’s global village started from the assumption that electronic media would have the ability to unite and retribalise humankind, signalling the return to the collective means of perceiving the world. Electronic media would be extensions of the human central nervous system and give way to a synesthesic perception, i.e., a bigger balance of the five senses which would overthrow the linearity and individuality of the modern age, ruled by the visual (1964: 110-11)., However, we can see that inequalities in globalised capital distribution fluxes may condition access to new technologies as well as its use within a given community.
Castells, Manuel, ‘Prólogo: A Rede e o Self’, in A Sociedade em Rede, transl. Alexandra Lemos et al. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2002 (1996).
Hall, Stuart ‘The Local and the Global: Globalization and Ethnicity’, in Anthony King (dir.) Culture, Globalization and the World-System. London: Macmillan, 1991.
McLuhan, Marshall, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964.
Wellman, Barry ‘Little Boxes, Glocalization, and Networked Individualism’, in Makoto Tanabe et al. (ed.) Digital Cities II. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 11-25, 2002.