Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Review of Peter Dicken's Global Shift: Mapping the Changing Contours of the World Economy, 5th Edition

Jeb Sprague

Widely cited and read by scholars and students of globalization, Peter Dicken’s Global Shift is best known for its concise examination of structures of the global economy. Now in its 5th edition with over 250 newly designed figures and graphs, few texts are as effective in showing the incontrovertible changes undergone in production, distribution and consumption. Written prior to the crisis of recent years, it remains a useful guide for understanding the truly global nature of today’s world economy. However, where Dicken does a remarkable job in dissecting the structure of the global economy, he has little or nothing to say about how the state and economic structure are grounded in broader class and social relations.
Dicken starts, in Parts 1 and 2, by laying out distinct ways in which scholars conceptualize globalization and the importance of technological and networked development, as well as the role of transnational corporations (TNCs) and national states. Part 3 describes shifting economic sectors in the real economy: agriculture, autos, computers, textiles and logistical infrastructure. Included within Part 3 is a chapter on finance, but this is just 29 pages in a 599-page book. This chapter covers the spread of financial services but has little discussion of derivatives (p. 386) and nothing on the role of central banks or stock markets. Most importantly though, for the purposes of this review, how does Global Shift treat the role of social agency?