Network, exposure and rhetoric: italian occupational fields and heterogeneity in constructing the globalized self

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Abstract

Drawing upon the findings of a broad inter-university research programme conducted in Italy on Globalization and local actors, this paper is intended to explore how the transnational network combines with other dimensions of individuals’ social experience in producing a self-perception of one’s own “global identity”. In particular, attention is focused on the structures and social spaces of everyday life in six crucial occupational domains (corporate managers, operators in financial services, professionals of the media system, schoolteachers, artists and state officials) where currently people’s professional action is somehow performed along local and global axes simultaneously. It is argued that within these groups the production and the cultural traits of the globalized self, rather than reflecting merely individuals’ engagement in transnational networks (conceived as regular and routinized connections across national boundaries), is the outcome of a complex process leaving room for the cumulative impact of, at least, two added dimensions of social life in the job setting: the degree and type of non-filtered exposure to challenges stemming from the global environment (see, for instance, mass migration), which both constrain and enable subjective direct practices of uncertainty management; the degree and type of competence in the rhetorics of the global age, i.e. the trained capability to order the “deeds and misdeeds” of globalization by putting them into one meaningful interpretive whole. Following from such leads, an attempt is made to suggest a typology whose aim is to outline, with respect to each of the occupational fields that have been investigated, an emerging and distinctive “sense of the global self”. Further, such profiles are associated with different combinations of the social dynamics dealing with: (i) field members’ participation in transnational networks; (ii) their quotidian practices of coping with change and ambiguity vis-à-vis globalization pressures; (iii) their level of access to well-known rhetorical repertoires and devices as intellectual resources for making sense of global trends. The paper concludes with some comments on the underlying logic of our approach. We stress that this analysis is consistent with conceptualizations, in the social sciences, arguing for a more nuanced understanding of globalization; in fact, not only globalization is a multidimensional process in itself but it also produces a variety of responses - and meanings – by differently positioned actors. In this light, the depiction of the transnational network as but one of the forces shaping people’s experience of globalization offers a means through which to grasp this complexity.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)457-480
Numero di pagine24
RivistaGlobal Networks
Volume3
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2003

Keywords

  • Globalization
  • Italy
  • Professions

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