ABSTRACT

Modernity is inherently globalising - this is evident in some of the most basic characteristics of modern institutions, including particularly their disembeddedness and reflexivity. But what exactly is globalisation, and how might we best conceptualise the phenomenon? I shall consider these questions at some length here, since the central importance of globalising processes today has scarcely been matched by extended discussions of the concept in the sociological literature. [ ... J The undue reliance which sociologists have placed upon the idea of 'society' where this means a bounded system, should be replaced by a starting point that concentrates upon analysing how social life is ordered across time and space - the problematic of time-space distanciation. The conceptual framework of time-space distanciation directs our attention to the complex relations between local involvements (circumstances of co-presence) and interaction across distance (the connections of presence and absence). In the modern era, the level of time-space distanciation is much higher than in any previous period, and the relations between local and distant social forms and events become correspondingly 'stretched'. Globalisation refers essentially to that stretching process, in so far as the modes of connection between different social contexts or regions become networked across the earth's surface as a whole.