978-0-415-94487-8 / 9780415944878

Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping Our Lives





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About the book:

As director of the London School of Economics, Anthony Giddens is one of the world's foremost academics. He has served as an advisor to both President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair, and is closely tied to the center-left idea of "third-way" politics. In this brief book on globalization (drawn from a series of lectures delivered in 1999), Giddens writes, "We are living through a major period of historical transition." Globalization is reordering societies all over the planet, and although the results are sometimes unpredictable, they are heading in a generally positive direction. But not everybody agrees, as the author freely admits:

The battleground of the twenty-first century will pit fundamentalism against cosmopolitan tolerance. In a globalising world, where information and images are routinely transmitted across the globe, we are all regularly in contact with others who think differently, and live differently, from ourselves. Cosmopolitans welcome and embrace this cultural complexity. Fundamentalists find it disturbing and dangerous. Whether in the areas of religion, ethnic identity, or nationalism, they take refuge in a renewed and purified tradition--and, quite often, violence.
Giddens is not coy about where he stands: "We can legitimately hope that a cosmopolitan outlook will win out." In what is sure to be a controversial chapter, he examines sex and family life through the prism of this fundamentalist-cosmopolitan divide. He is severely critical of what he calls the "traditional family," which he considers an aspect of fundamentalism the world over and an enemy of sexual equality: "I remember what my great aunt once said to me. She must have had one of the longest marriages of anyone, having been with her husband for over 60 years. She once confided that she had been deeply unhappy with him the whole of that time. In her day there was no escape." Runaway World is certain to provoke a lively debate--Giddens would surely have it no other way. --John J. Miller

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