Globalization and complexity
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Globalization (or, more precisely, global capitalism) has come to be viewed as the new « structure », through nations, localities, regions and other spatial scales, as the new « agent », to use the normal social science distinctions, whilst giving to it a global twist.
Complexity, however, would suggest that such a system would be diverse, historical, fractured and uncertain. It would be necessary to examine how emergent properties develop at the global level that are neither well ordered and moving towards equilibrium nor in a state of perpetual anarchy. Complexity would lead one to see the global as neither omnipotent nor subject to control by society. Indeed, it is not a single centre of power. It is an astonishingly complex system, or rather a series of dynamic complex systems, a huge array of islands of order within a sea of disorder, as Ilya Prigogine more generally postulates.
There would be no presumption of moving towards a state of equilibrium (Urry, 2003 : x). Complexity shows that relatively small perturbations in the capitalist system, such as the shift from an industrial to an informational paradigm, would have produced a branching different from what was predicted by Marx a century and a half ago.
Only a relatively small set of causes would have been necessary to generate a radically different emergent outcome, of post-Fordist « welfare » consumerism rather than a worldwide social revolution. Large effects do not necessarily need large causes, since systems out of equilibrium can tip or turn one way or the other through small rather than large changes (Ibid. : 79-80).
The epochal transformation we call globalization is taking place inside the national to a far larger extent than is usually recognized. This is the first point I wanted to make.
There is another point that, according to me, needs further attention.
The mainstream discourse on globalization has something in common, essentially and which is part of the current problems of today, with post modern discussion: the centrality of the economic dimension of globalization as a structure (or conditioning framework for daily actions and through periods of euphory and crisis) that cannot be changed easily for the most optimists.
Nonetheless, the global twist is more complex than a dominant economic sphere with the social and the environmental being dominated or exploited. The processes of global capitals are not just economic but also social, cultural and environmental, through the human built world we live in.
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Cite this article as: Jacquinet, Marc, « Globalization and complexity » in Critique du Management, https://critiquema.hypotheses.org, 2019, .