Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping Our Lives

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9780415927192: Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping Our Lives

'This little book is full of insights about who we are and where we are going.' - Financial Times

The most accessible book yet by one of the most influential thinkers of our time, Runaway World evaluates the ever-increasing impact of globalization today. Extending his arguments beyond the merely economic, Giddens shows how our growing interdependence directly affects our everyday lives. Neither a cheerleading endorsement of emerging markets, nor a fearful rant on the growth of terrorism or loss of American jobs, this is a book about a world that grows smaller every day, and how those changes are affecting our culture, our traditions, our families, and our politics. Identifying globalization as a true cultural force, this eloquent and important volume is the starting point for anyone concerned about our increasingly interconnected world.

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Review:

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

About the Author:

Anthony Giddens is the director of the London School of Economics and Political Science and been an advisor to both Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. A cofounder of Polity Press, he is the author of many books including the international bestseller The Third Way. He has seven honorary degrees and has taught at Cambridge, Boston, Harvard, New York and Stanford universities and the University of California, Berkeley and the Sorbonne.

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