Item description for Globalization at What Price?: Economic Change and Daily Life by Pamela K. Brubaker...
Overview In the midst of rapid economic change on a global scale, many people feel ill-equipped to respond. The author provides options for addressing the critical issues of globalization and explores successful economic justice efforts.
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Studio: Pilgrim Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.52" Width: 5.58" Height: 0.41" Weight: 0.41 lbs.
Release Date Oct 31, 2001
Publisher Pilgrim Press
ISBN 0829814388 ISBN13 9780829814385
Availability 0 units.
More About Pamela K. Brubaker
Brubaker is an associate professor of Christian ethics at California Lutheran University.
Pamela K. Brubaker currently resides in the state of California.
Reviews - What do customers think about Globalization at What Price?: Economic Change and Daily Life?
Very useful introduction to globalization and its effects Feb 3, 2008
For those who want a basic understanding of what globalization is, how it effects the daily lives of many people around the world, how the Christian faith offers a perspective on the issues surrounding globalization and what we can do to resist its harmful nature, Pamela Brubaker's book is a very good place to start. She offers chapters on each of these topics and encouragement in a final chapter that our efforts on behalf of those marginalized by globalization can make a significant difference.
The introductory chapter on globalism helps the reader make sense of the alphabet soup of organizations, trade agreements and other common terms that are used in discussions of the global economy. Brubaker characterizes, accurately I think, the capitalist nature of economic and political globalization describing how transnational corporations (TNCs) have come to have power over capital used to provide goods and services in many different countries. Their pursuit of profit for its own sake has made the world into a global labor pool in which TNCs can bid for the cheapest labor, often in complete disregard for the health and welfare of the laborers. Brubaker helpfully describes the history of globalization and defines its driving philosophy as "neoliberalism" which advocates the removal of all government restraint on international commerce and economic affairs. Though globalization is sold to the public and politicians as being good for everyone, in reality some players are more powerful than others and its dominating institutions are "continuously altering the rules of the game so as to redistribute income and power upwards." Globalization has become "a means of moving economic decision-making away from elected bodies such as congresses and parliaments, and placing more authority in the hands of unelected, unaccountable institutions such as the IMF, NAFTA or the transnational corporations themselves.". The profits of "free trade" end up in the hands of a minority of powerful investors while the majority of the people are excluded from its benefits.
Brubaker documents the way the lives of laborers in the poorer countries have been made worse by the way the global economy is structured. Because cheap labor around the world is plentiful and TNCs can move their production facilities around the globe at will, laborers are not paid a living wage, working conditions are dangerous and they can't afford to buy the goods they make or food they help produce. Brubaker argues that the problems are systemic: "There are no individual solutions. As long as capital and transnational corporations are free to roam the globe in search of cheap labor and lax labor and environmental laws, we are caught up in a 'race to the bottom'." The remedy to ill effects of globalization must be focused on changing the rules, not on addressing symptoms of the problem.
In her attempt to connect an oppositional stance to the dominant forces of globalization with the Christian faith, Brubaker tries to diagnose the problem of why so many people, Christians in particular, are so silent about the injustices promoted by globalization. Her answer is to look at the ways in which all people are "shaped by the cultural forces of global capitalism." We are conditioned to be good competitors and consumers and are dependent on this for our "sense of identity and validation" so we are unable to see clearly our own complicity in the harsh living conditions that must be endured by people who inexpensively produce the food and other goods we buy.
There is a lot of truth to this and Brubaker is to be thanked for her part in raising our awareness. But I think at least part of the problem rests with the confusion of voices. Unlike the author, many people have no direct experience of the problems that Brubaker brings to light in her book. They hear other voices besides hers, perhaps, and need more reason to trust her voice than her saying that they are blinded and in denial. She presumes too much virtue to be inherent in her own position. Many social action groups have their own agendas and will magnify problems and misrepresent their opposition in order to raise support and funds for themselves. The question of how to earn public trust for one's point of view needs to be addressed also.
The doctrinal justification for God's concern for justice for the poor is well founded by Brubaker's drawing upon Jesus' parables of the last judgment (Matt. 25:31-46), the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and the laborers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16). She has a powerful message here of which Christians ought to be more aware. It is "a call to conversion, a [turning] away from desire for wealth and status toward social justice and inclusive love." She points out the accountability that comes with our privileged social location to work for change in the dominant communities of which we are a part.
One weakness of the book is Brubaker's failure to engage intelligent opposition, leaving the impression that there is none. She does cite a few opposing views, but dismisses them rather quickly and in a way that makes one suspect that she misrepresents, or has selectively chosen, them. This is the first book I have read on globalization, so I have nothing but my own sense of the issues being more complex than she portrays them to make me hesitant to accept the author's point of view uncritically. The book makes me feel that there is room for a second (or third) opinion on both the causes and the solutions to the problems presented.
For example, Brubaker seems to ignore the "dark side" of human nature on part of the poorer countries while magnifying it on the part of the rich and powerful ones. Aren't there problems of corruption within many governments in poorer countries that complicate solutions to the problems of globalization? Within each victimized country, isn't there a large gap between the rich and powerful and the poor and oppressed that must be closed before the governments of these countries can truly advocate for the needs of their people? Will attempts to change the rules on a global scale "trickle down" to the poorest of the poor? What about the institutions that must be formed to counter the ill effects of globalization? What will ensure that power will not corrupt them too and that they will continue to be selfless advocates for the poor while also being fair to the businesses that will employ them? How will these organizations earn and maintain the public trust?
All this is not to say that Brubaker is wrong in her analysis or in her conclusions about what must be done to correct the problems. Indeed, her final chapter is very encouraging in showing that the powers behind globalization are not invincible. But a balance will have to be sustained that more just laws and treaties alone cannot ensure. A just society ultimately depends on just leaders. Any system of rules can be manipulated or ignored by those with the power to do so.
Brubaker discusses at length the Jubilee 2000 campaign of debt forgiveness and describes it as an ongoing effort. She demonstrates an awareness that justice is an ongoing concern, not a project that can be over and done with. It must address the root cause of problems, like the structure of third world debt and how it is accumulated, not just the symptoms, like forgiveness of uncollectible debts.
In spite of my criticisms of this book, I can't dismiss the importance of its message. I think the author succeeds in raising the awareness of her readers of the significant problems caused by the globalization of our economy and the importance of taking action at the global level. Brubaker is right in saying that local efforts like recycling and simple lifestyles can't do the whole job. Global activism can't do the whole job either, but local efforts will be much less effective if we ignore the global issues.
An Excellent Brief But Complete Description of Globalization Apr 5, 2004
If you are looking for a quick introduction to the issues of globalization this is the book for you. Brubaker clearly and succinctly demystifies this complex phenomenon.
She also describes ethical issues circling the many problems of resource distribution, the environment, and national sovereignty. She writes from the perspective of a Christian ethicist but anyone will profit from her discussion.
Great little, critical book on globalization Dec 15, 2002
This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to catch up quickly on what motivated the 1999 WTO demonstrations in Seattle, WA. Brubaker explains what the World Bank, IMF, and World Trade Organization are, and their effects on the developing world -- from injustices in the maquiladoras at the U.S.-Mexican border to Wal-Mart subcontractors in China. Her critical analysis of the excess power wielded by corporate interests is inspired by her humanitarianism, feminism, environmentalism, and Christian faith. This work contains not just a diagnosis of the problems, but activist solutions, even feasible for the uninitiated. There are some heavier duty books on the topic which offer more painstaking treatment of the structure of the global economic institutions and issues; but many of those are not what the intelligent, yet common reader is looking for. This one has the virtue of being an informed, quick read that explains the terrain and leaves us with something to do once we've put the book down. (For the detail-oriented, though, this work is shot-through with footnotes to up-to-the-minute references.)