SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Anthropology of Globalisation

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2021/2022
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2

This course examines social and cultural dynamics of globalisation, drawing on anthropological and sociological theory and ethnographic studies from around the world. With a particular focus on globalisation’s consequences for individual lives—identities, life possibilities, goals, desires—we will explore the complex and shifting flows of people, ideas, images, capital, and material goods that define the global present. Topics to be addressed include, among others, global systems of production and consumption, citizenship and mobility, the internet and other media, tourism economies and imaginaries, and cross-cultural consumption of goods and practices (e.g., clothing, arts, foods) worldwide. Throughout, we will attend to linkages between these global phenomena and individual and collective identities, cultural homogenization and diversification, social and economic inequality, imaginaries and ideologies of commonality and difference, and representation, meaning, and value.

As a simultaneously economic, social, cultural, material, and ideological phenomenon, “globalisation” manifests in different ways and to different effects in particular societies. Using ethnographic case studies, we will interrogate the relationship between the local and the global (and the popular equation of local/global and diversity/homogeneity), theories of globalisation “from above” and “from below,” and the question of whether human sociality has been fundamentally transformed by rapidly increasing interconnectivity. Through discussion of its concrete effects on everyday lives “on the ground,” including students’ own, the course asks participants to reflect critically on the discourse of globalisation — both pro- and anti- — and question what it might obscure as well as reveal.


  • Students enrol via the on-line Module Sign-Up system.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the history and scope of the anthropology of globalisation.
  • Identify continuities between forms of global interconnection in the past and globalisation today.
  • Draw upon a broad ethnographic knowledge base for discussing diverse ways globalisation affects societies, cultures, and individual lives worldwide.
  • Discuss methodological and theoretical issues in the anthropological study of globalisation.
  • Critically analyse globalisation discourses in light of anthropological research.
  • Design an independent field research project on the relationship between specific global systems and particular local material realities, and write a proposal to conduct such work.

Method of assessment

There is no exam for this course. All assessed coursework is designed to contribute to student learning.

Suggested reading

For background and representative material:

  • Pieterse, Jan Nederveen. 2003. Global Mélange: Globalization and Culture. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Steger, M. 2013. Globalization: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Inda, Jonathan Xavier and Rosaldo, Renato, eds. 2008. The Anthropology of Globalization, 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Mathews, Gordon, et al., eds. 2012. Globalization from Below: The World's Other Economy. London: Routledge.
  • Mathews, Gordon. 2000. Global Culture/Individual Identity: Searching for Home in the Cultural Supermarket. London: Routledge.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules