Introduction. Globalization, Globalistics and Global Studies


Authors: Grinin, Leonid; Ilyin, Ilya V.; Korotayev, Andrey
Almanac: Globalistics and Globalization Studies

Globalization is one of the most popular subjects of contemporary academic research. Globalization process itself is changing very fast, whereas the comprehension of this process speeds it up and makes it irreversible. Note that globalization studies have increased public interest in Global Studies that were rather popular in the 1960s and 1970s, but then this interest weakened for a while. It is quite clear that globalization can be treated as the most important global process, whereas the total number of global processes (natural and social, contemporary and historical) that find themselves in focus of scientific research is constantly growing. It becomes more and more clear that even in quite different global processes one may find a significant number of common systemic properties that make our comprehension of the global evolution more profound. It is not coincidental that Globalistics (this notion will be spelled out further below) pays a special attention to the comparison between natural and social global processes. This explains why the content of the notion of globalization expands. It is not just limited to the most popular spheres of economic and political globalization, but also includes the study of various global problems such as climatic change, cultural globalization, and so on.

Being one of global processes, globalization has many faces; it has its own image in every country. One can get a truly objective picture only through a synthesis of all those particular visions. Thus, there is a necessity to provide a multi-faceted analysis of globalization, to co-operate with scholars from many different countries and to integrate visions of global processes from all continents, regions and states. We believe that current events such as the financial crisis illustrate that discussion should not be limited to particular geographic regions or narrowly-defined methods of analysis. It is important to provide for a broadly international and multicultural forum on issues associated with globalization, and the influence of globalization in particular cultural-geographic regions.

Globalization is a very broad concept not only with respect to the diversity of regions, cultures, and actors, but also with respect to the diversity of analytical approaches that can be employed to its study. In this book we are striving to cover various aspects and dimensions of globalization, to see both its local and global manifestations.

In the present anthology one can find perceptions of globalization by a number of famous scholars from various countries of the world (Ervin Laszlo, Roland Robertson, Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, Randall Collins, Christopher Chase-Dunn, William Thompson and others), but one can also get to know rather peculiar visions of globalization by the Russian scientists and scholars. We have no doubt that in this respect the present volume could be of special interest, as Russia is a place where the Western and non-Western ideas and cultural processes have been meeting for centuries. In this respect Russia is a suitable country for the publication of a book with the aims outlined above.

The volume is entitled Globalistics and Globalization Studies. However, why Globalistics, not Global Studies? The notion of Globalistics was born in Russia, this is a translation of the Russian term globalistika; however, we believe it might be useful within the English Global Studies thesaurus. We are sure that the introduction of this term is justifiable, because it expresses the vision of systemic and epistemological unity of global processes, of the presence of some relatively autonomous field with its own research subject. Morphologically this term is identical with such well-established designations of academic disciplines as Economics, Linguistics, Physics, and so on.

Globalistics emerged in the USSR in the 1970s and 1980s first of all as a result of philosophic and scientific scrutiny of the global problems of the humankind.[1] As this research was conducted within quite a rigorous and orderly philosophical framework, in contrast with the Western Global Studies, the Soviet/Russian Globalistics acquired certain systematic qualities of a rather coherent academic field from the very beginning. We believe that this turned out to be a significant advantage of the Russian version of the study of global processes and phenomena. Note also that Globalistics has been developing as a synthesis of various academic disciplines (that is well in the mainstream of the contemporary scientific trends); on the other hand, academics working in this field have been trying to impart to it a certain conceptual unity. That is why Globalistics (in contrast with some other philosophical schools) experienced not collapse but flourishing in the post-Soviet history of Russia. In the 1990s and 2000s it became one of the most productive research directions in Russia. One may, for example, recollect that the first encyclopedias of Globalistics/Global Studies were published just in Russia (Mazour and Chumakov 2003, 2006; Mazour, Chumakov, and Gay 2006). Another example is represented by the establishment (seven years ago) of the Faculty of Global Studies (FGS MSU) within the Moscow State University; this is one of the few academic and educational bodies specializing in the realm of Globalistics. The staff of the faculty is facing a number of conceptual issues such as how to develop research and educational process; what the optimal combination of research methods in Globalistics is; how to form educational trajectories in reasonable ways, to arrange and coordinate disciplines within the curriculum etc.

Globalistics is a cross-disciplinary integrative field of research. It aims at investigating global problems in all their facets: from causes, laws and tendencies of global processes through an insight into positive and negative effects to the survival of humankind and the protection of the biosphere (Chumakov 2008). Thus, Globalistics may be regarded as a sort of systemic and more or less integrated ‘core’ within Global Studies.

The development of Globalistics results in the emergence of a special form of multidisciplinary scientific knowledge that is sometimes denoted as ‘global knowledge’, that is the knowledge that reflects all the global processes and systems which exist on the planet Earth in the framework of their planetary unity and evolutionary significance.

Globalistics is a very young academic field, that is why it has a large number of unresolved problems. It has not been fully incorporated yet into the system of academic disciplines. An attempt to contribute to the solving of this problem has been undertaken in a recently published monograph (Ilyin and Ursul 2009), where Globalistics is considered as a very important element of the system of integrative-scientific knowledge that forms the modern scientific worldview based on the principles of global evolutionism. This system of knowledge emerges in the way of interdisciplinary synthesis and integrative processes within sciences.

Earlier the growth of knowledge took place most effectively in the framework of particular academic disciplines through further differentiation and specialization of science; now this tends to be achieved through interdisciplinary processes of knowledge synthesis, as well as synthesis of fundamental and applied researches. Global Studies are rapidly becoming leaders of modern scientific-education processes, as well as a basis of modern scientific worldview.

Development of Globalistics and similar disciplines[2] suggests that some other fields of academic research may find themselves under the influence of ‘global attractor’. One may well expect that names and more and more traditional fields of academic research will get a ‘global prefix’.

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Hence, due to the fact that Globalistics appears to be a more integral and systemic direction than Global Studies, it seems possible that this term will be able to fill a certain lacuna in the English academic thesaurus. Basing ourselves on this point (but also wishing to reflect some specific features of development of Global Studies in Russia) we have decided to name the present anthology Globalistics and Globalization Studies.

Most articles presented in this anthology have already been published in various academic periodicals[3] and almanacs (though some of them are published here for the first time).

The book is subdivided into four parts.

Part 1 (Historical Dimension) comprises articles analyzing some important long-term global processes (global urbanization, global political development, and so on) in historical retrospective.

Part 2 (Globalistics, Global Studies, and Models) comprises articles that consider in detail the notion of Globalistics and possible directions of development of this field of academic research. This section also contains articles on modeling of global processes, as well as their quantitative analyses with various globalization indices.

The title of Part 3 (Trends, Risks, and Problems) explains its contents very well by itself. It comprises articles analyzing various directions of globalization, global risks (for example, in connection with global climatic changes, or global terrorism), and global problems.

Finally, Part 4 (Perspectives and the New World Order) presents a wide spectrum of views on the meaning of the contemporary epoch, as well as some forecasts of global development in the forthcoming decades.

Acknowledgements

The editors would like to express the deep gratitude to Elena Emanova and Kseniya Biryukova for their invaluable assistance in the process of preparation of this anthology.

References

Abylgaziev, I. I., Ilyin, I. V., and Kefeli, I. F. 2010. (Eds.). Global Geopolitics. Moscow: Moscow State University. In Russian.

Ilyin, I. V., and Ursul, A. D. 2009. Evolutionary Globalistics (The Concept of Evolution of Global Processes). Moscow: Moscow State University. In Russian.

Mazour, I. I., and Chumakov, A. N. 2003. (Eds.). Globalistics. Encyclopedia. Moscow: Raduga. In Russian.

Mazour, I. I., and Chumakov, A. N. 2006. (Eds.). Globalistics: International Cross-Disciplinary Dictionary. Moscow: Elima; Piter. In Russian.

Mazour, I. I., Chumakov, A. N., and Gay, W. 2006. (Eds.). Global Studies. International Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow; St-Peterburg; New-York: Dialog; Elima; Piter.

[1] Note that Globalistics as an integral academic discipline (with its own name and research agenda) emerged in Russia/the USSR earlier than in any other country of the world.

[2] A characteristic example here is provided by Geopolitics that was born with such a status that was rather close to global, and that becomes more and more global every year (see Abylgaziev, Ilyin, and Kefeli 2010).

[3] Many of them were published in the main international journal edited in Russia (but published in English) specifically dedicated to Globalistics – Journal of Globalization Studies.