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Paul C. Adams

Digital media contribute to globalization through several interlinking processes. First, global infrastructures permit communications to move faster, farther, and more often between distant parts of the world. The proliferation and diffusion of devices such as mobile (cell) phones and computers are integral to this process, as are the complementary signal relay systems provided by satellites and optical fibres. Second, these media and the digital signals they carry facilitate globalization insofar as they support visual and auditory forms of engagement between widely separated locations. People increasingly experience ‘the world’ via media, but this world differs in significant ways from place to place. In effect, people encounter a range of contrasting globalized visions, depending on whether they live in a place that is urban or rural, more or less developed, in the Global North or the Global South. Third, a phenomenon called mediatization folds global forces and processes into everyday life, reworking daily practices in ways that respond to global influences. A familiar activity such as driving now involves long-distance data streams coordinated by an on-board device and its embedded algorithms, all of which mediatize the act of driving and rework the cognitive skills of the driver. The chapter concludes by applying the three dimensions of globalization to the case of Rwanda. This example demonstrates that even where a small percentage of the population actually uses digital communications the diffusion of digital media may have noticeable effects on labour conditions, commodity handling, social power relations, profit distribution and economic vulnerability.

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Francis Cheneval and Mónica Ferrín

Chapter 6 by Francis Cheneval and M—nica Ferr'n deals with direct democracy in the European Union (EU). One of the solutions proposed by scholars to deal with the alleged democratic deficit of the EU is to favour direct participation of EU citizens in decision making at the European level. In this chapter, we address the viability of EU referenda as a mechanism of direct democracy. So far, the use of direct democracy in relation to EU issues has been residual, and referenda on EU issues have always been held at the national level. And yet, there is insufficient evidence supporting the critiques against direct democracy at the European level. In this chapter the authors propose therefore a model for a European referendum that is: 1) held on EU internal issues of primary law; 2) mandatory; 3) simultaneous in all member states; 4) binding; and 5) simple regarding subject matter. Empirically, they show that current practices of referenda on EU issues in European member states produce distortions in democratic functioning, due to the ad hoc way in which the referenda are held. Firstly, optional referenda favour that the incumbent government call for a referendum only on issues for which they receive strong support. As such, optional government-induced referenda are used as strategic instruments, i.e. as plebiscites. Secondly, optional referenda allow some member states to have a stronger negotiation power than others, especially when they are not held simultaneously. Thirdly, optional referenda produce discrimination among EU citizens since only a few of them are given the right to participate. The Swiss case is used as a paradigmatic example from which we draw a number of lessons for the EU.

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Maria Christina Fragkou

Desalinated water production has been celebrated by some as a solution to water scarcity and the barriers this means for social and economic development, as it produces water from an infinite source, the sea. Political ecology studies on the other hand, have now long been concerned by the possible social implications of this technique, but without any tangible evidence so far. In this chapter I critically analyse how the production of desalinated water for human consumption has permitted the growth of the mining sector in the world’s main copper supplier, the Chilean region of Antofagasta, while undermining the quality of life for the urban residents who consume it. The results are based on a survey which examined the perception of potable water quality and the uses of tap water in households, over 10 years after the plant´s functioning. Drawing on these, I demonstrate that the gradual introduction of desalinated water in the city’s metabolism has deepened existing socio-ecological inequalities within an already heavily segregated city, and has failed in overcoming tap water quality concerns for the residents of Antofagasta, maintaining perceptual and economic water scarcities, especially for lower-class households. These analyses do not only advance findings on desalination’s social impacts on the urban scale, but also disclose the importance of examining urban water inequalities at the household level, as the formation of daily practices and uses of tap water generate unequal conditions for urban dwellers, which cannot be grasped by city-wide analyses, usual in the urban political ecology tradition.

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Virginie Mamadouh

English is widely acknowledged as the language of globalization and the growing hegemony of English has been seen as a main cultural outcome of globalization. This process is shaped by contradictory forces towards linguistic harmonization but also towards diversification, and is geographically uneven. The chapter introduces the hegemony of English driven by globalization before discussing the debates about the impact of globalization on English (Globish vs. World Englishes?) and the future of English. It then turns more specifically to language use on the Internet to show how the technology, originally a vector of Anglicization, has also become a powerful instrument for the expression of linguistic diversity. The prevalence of English and other languages on the Internet is discussed, as well as its possible impact on offline language geographies. The conclusion offers some directions for research agendas regarding the impact of globalization on languages and more specifically the strategies of states and local communities to cope with English, migrants languages and the erosion of the territorial monopoly of national languages.

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Robert C. Kloosterman and Pieter Terhorst

In this chapter we assess the specific contribution of economic geographers to the debates on the economic dimension of globalization. We present key characteristics of geographical thinking on globalization and emphasize how this is deeply anchored in a particular understanding of social reality which stresses both a rich ontology (of places and actors) and the role of a wide variety of social structures (from capitalism to ethnic solidarity) in determining drivers and outcomes of concrete economic processes. This ontological viewpoint is very much intertwined with a pluralistic epistemological position allowing drawing theoretical notions from a wide set of (sub)disciplines and an openness towards methodologies (which encompass quantitative as well as qualitative methods). These scientific-philosophical underpinnings distinguish economic-geography approaches to globalization from those in mainstream economics. We will illustrate this by looking at how economic geographers have dealt with the relationship between globalization and, respectively, the institutional set-up of the nation state and the role of regions and their cross-border linkages. We show that a rich understanding of both places and actors is essential to get to grips with concrete processes of globalization.

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Giuseppe Porcaro

This chapter argues that the use of online tools should be put in the context of an overall communication strategy that has clearly identified goals, for both online and offline channels. The text highlights the challenges and sketches methodologies to map and segment audiences in general, as well as in the specific case of research institutions such as think tanks, where the map of influencers is very dynamic. The author discusses how to engineer tools to reach specific audiences, and to shape messages effectively in using specific platforms. The case study of Bruegel, an international economics think tank based in Brussels, is used throughout the chapter to support a wider reflection on the challenges, common to other research institutions as well, including universities.

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Caitlyn Collins and Jennifer Glass

Popular cultural beliefs suggest that parenthood enhances adults’ health and happiness, yet many studies find that mothers and fathers report lower levels of wellbeing than childless adults. This finding is a relevant and timely policy issue given its possible association with high rates of childlessness, stress and work-family conflict for adults, and poorer outcomes for children. Although recent scholarship has begun examining cross-national variation in the relationship between parenthood and wellbeing, we still know little about how the parenthood gap in wellbeing is associated with state-provided public policies supporting families. In what ways does the larger sociopolitical context in which adults raise children shape their wellbeing compared to nonparents? In this chapter, Collins and Glass first review the literature on parental wellbeing in advanced industrialized countries and identify patterns and contradictions arising from the extant research. Second, they discuss the findings of studies that have considered whether, and to what extent, policy contexts impact the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of parents versus nonparents. The authors conclude by suggesting avenues for future research that help move the family policy agenda forward by understanding the relationship between macro-level contexts and micro-level emotional processes in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

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James Van Alstine and Laura Smith

This chapter outlines the evolution of transparency in resource governance, focusing particularly on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and its unique form of voluntary governance. We discuss how the EITI has provided the space for private forms of authority to influence public and private sector tax governance, especially within the areas of changing regulatory/fiscal regimes, country-by-country reporting and beneficial ownership registers. Starting with the context of pressing governance issues such as the political-institutional challenge of the resource curse in developing countries, this chapter provides an overview of the development of the EITI, its functions and its design, and also offers some critiques. This analysis underpins an argument about EITI’s role as a precedent in broader regulatory and governance regimes targeting corporate social responsibility and tax avoidance issues both in the extractives sector and beyond.

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Barney Warf

In many parts of the world, technologically sophisticated smart cities have been at the forefront of the deployment of digital information and communications technologies, including smart energy grids, transport systems, renewable energy, and smart homes. The rapid economic growth and social transformation of many East Asian societies has given rise to a series of smart cities that are globalized, internet-connected, and that have changed urban governance and daily life in numerous ways. This chapter examines three East Asian smart cities, Seoul, Singapore, and Shanghai, noting how each aspired to smart city status in different ways. In each, information technologies have facilitated the implementation of electronic government (e-government), improved commercial ties, improved energy use and environmental quality, and enhanced the quality of life.

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Wieger Bakker, Marlot van der Kolk and Viktor Koska

Chapter 7 by Wieger Bakker, Marlot van der Kolk and Viktor Koska deals with education for a civic culture in the European Union. Various scholars have stressed that political participation requires the backing of a political culture, a set of beliefs, attitudes, norms, perceptions and a sense of ‘identity, an expression of one’s membership in a political community’. This seems to be problematic in Europe. Its nation states, however, have over time developed vested traditions that promote citizenship, by socializing and educating people in a ‘civic culture’. This chapter compares different traditions in educating for citizenship in a selection of (old and new) member states of the European Union and shows how such an approach and practice could contribute to or hinder the development of a European civic culture.