After the first few posts, I figured it was about time to go into more detail about the Age of Globalization and what I believe can be identified as its characteristics. These are listed as follows:
Globalization has resulted in increased social fragmentation on a large scale, while simultaneously seeing increased cohesion among homogenous, small groups. This results from increasing interconnectedness among people who share characteristics ranging from similar beliefs to similar experiences of oppression. Globalization allows more expression of difference; however, this expression seems to largely have been used as a means for finding more like-minded people. From the fragmentation and regrouping around identities, religions, or ideals, a more polarized society has arisen. This is visible in the United States as in other places.
In my senior thesis "Ethnicity and Inequality in the Age of Globalization: Implications for Development," I basically worked out what I am attempting to summarize here. Rather than resulting in one huge homogenous mass of people, resistence identities (such as ethnic groups fighting for cultural rights) have become commonplace. The expanded networks of communication, trade, and migration have allowed groups unprecedented freedom of action. This invariably leads to more mobilization and (potentially) a destabilization of society. The real challenge here is twofold. First, the challenge of how to deal with social fragmentation and the lack of cohesion-I discussed this previously in my post on Technologies of Social Exclusion. In this case, it should be social policy to encourage diversity and consider a diversity an important aspect of education and modern social life. Second, the problem of social mobilization can cause instability. Realistically, the only way for a government to combat this is through the creation of meaningful, moderate paths of communication through which activists can express their views. Challenges to the status quo can be considered commonplace from now on, and it is important to adapt to the new diversity of opinions being expressed; this is especially true since ostensibly these opinions have always existed but had previously been overwhelmed by the dominant groups.
While the second of these two challenges remains the most critical in the short term, I believe that in the future it is the first that will pose the greatest challenge. Maintaining social cohesion, avoiding polarization, and promoting diversity should be considered extremely important goals of any and all policy makers.