Globalization and Religion
GLOBALIZATION AND RELIGION
GLOBALIZATION AND RELIGION . Globalization refers to the historical process by which all the world's people increasingly come to live in a single social unit. It implicates religion and religions in several ways. From religious or theological perspectives, globalization calls forth religious response and interpretation. Yet religion and religions have also played important roles in bringing about and characterizing globalization. Among the consequences of this implication for religion have been that globalization encourages religious pluralism. Religions identify themselves in relation to one another, and they become less rooted in particular places because of diasporas and transnational ties. Globalization further provides fertile ground for a variety of noninstitutionalized religious manifestations and for the development of religion as a political and cultural resource.
The term globalization is of quite recent provenance. It first appeared in the business and sociological literature of the 1980s, but by the end of the century it had become a broadly invoked expression in both academic and popular discourse around the world. Along the way, it has acquired a variety of meanings that it is well to understand at the outset. They share the common element implied in the word: all parts of the world are becoming increasingly tied into a single, globally extended social unit. Among the variants, however, by far the most widespread sees globalization primarily in economic terms, referring mostly to more recent developments in the operation of global markets, capital, and multinational corporations. A related view adds mass media and cultural components to the economic dimension, stressing the degree to which primarily Western, and especially American, firms have been spreading their products and way of life to all corners of the world. Economic globalization therefore focuses on the ways that global capitalism incorporates the world's regions into a single system. The role of states informs a further perspective, one that concentrates on global or international political relations, usually with a parallel emphasis on the hegemonic power of Western countries. Individual states, in this frame of analysis, appear as the primary actors in a globally extended system of such states.
In all of these versions, there are those variants that regard the process as a quite recent development and others that locate its beginnings decades and sometimes centuries in the past. There are also differences of opinion as to whether the process is generally good or mostly bad. Much of the literature is in fact quite critical, seeing the global as a kind of homogenizing imposition on the local, a development in which the strong, overtly or insidiously, presume their ways upon the comparatively weak, dominating or excluding the latter. A further approach to globalization, however, looks at this contrast of the global and the local differently, laying less stress on homogenizing economic and political institutions that impose themselves from above and rather more on local and global movements, networks, and organizations that also contribute to making the world more of a single place, sometimes parallel to the more hegemonic institutions, sometimes in consonance with them, sometimes even in express opposition them. This sort of globalization from below focuses on a wide variety of phenomena, from international nongovernmental organizations and networks among global migrants to antiglobalization, women's, and environmental movements. In part to distinguish this sort of globalization from the economic and political kind, some literature speaks in this regard of the development of a transnational civil society. Moreover, perspectives of this sort stress the renewed importance of cultural differences under conditions of globalization. The world is not just becoming the same; it is also becoming more pluralistic. It is almost exclusively under this meaning of globalization that religion appears as part of the process rather than as either irrelevant bystander or victim.
Various scholars have offered interpretative theories of globalization. Often these theories correspond closely to one of the dominant meanings of the term. One finds, for instance, theories of the global capitalist economic system or of the global state political system. Several efforts, however, seek to incorporate the various meanings as different aspects of a single process, often thereby setting the global and the local in dialogical relation rather than in opposition to one another. These approaches argue that local adaptations of globalized structures like capitalism, nationalism, or mass media are actually constitutive of the global; that globalization is not properly understood if we think of it only as a kind of imperialistic spread from one region to the rest of the world. In other words, the particular ways that people in different parts of the world—including those in rich Western countries—have responded to the context of globalization are what globalization is all about. Global factors become global by being localized or particularized around the world, and the local thereby takes on potentially global or universal significance. Among the many implications of such a perspective is that what are sometimes called?global flows? (of people, ideas, information, products, and other forms) do not go just in one direction, say from America and Europe out to the rest of the world. They also move the other way (reverse flows) and among regions other than the powerful Western ones (cross-flows). Thus, for example, African musical styles and Asian martial arts have a significant effect on North American and European art and culture; and migrants from Indonesia and Bangladesh seek work in the Middle East, all the while maintaining links and sending remittances to their home countries. These relations also contribute to globalization—are in their own way just as constitutive of it as Coca-Cola and the World Bank.
Religion and Globalization
The dialogical approaches to globalization, in conjunction with those that stress globalization from below, are of special significance when it comes to the topic of religion. By far the greatest portion of the by now vast literature on globalization completely or almost completely ignores religion, the partial exception being the attention that Islamicist political extremism receives. This absence can perhaps be attributed to the dominance of economic and political understandings of globalization, including among those observers who look at the phenomenon from within religious traditions. Yet even though a great many of the works that focus on globalization from below—for instance, much of the literature on global migration and ethnicity—also gives religion scant attention, it is among these approaches that one finds almost all the exceptions to this general pattern, probably because these are the only ones that, in principle, allow non-economic or nonpolitical structures like religion a significant role in globalization.
Consideration of the relation between religion and globalization involves two basic possibilities. There are, on the one hand, religious responses to globalization and religious interpretations of globalization. These are, as it were, part of doing religion in a globalizing context. On the other hand, there are those analyses of globalization that seek to understand the role of religion in globalization and the effects of globalization on religion. They focus on observing religion in a global society. By far the largest portion of the literature that relates religion and globalization is of the former sort, and therefore it is well to begin there.
Religious Perspectives on Globalization
A great many religious commentators understand globalization as at once a largely economic, imperialistic, and homogenizing process. They share the economic/mass cultural/political perspective, evaluating globalization as anywhere from a threatening challenge to the manifestation of evil in our world. In many respects globalization in this segment of the literature is a successor term for what used to be censured as the capitalist system or cognate terms. Accordingly, globalization results in violence and the unjust oppression of the majority of people around the world. It threatens local and indigenous cultures, imposing a particularly heavy burden on women. It is the chief cause of global and local environmental degradation, again to the principal detriment of the mass of marginalized humanity. Such theologically inspired positions are not restricted to the representatives of a particular religious tradition. Thus, for example, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and those speaking from indigenous traditions all arrive at similar critical assessments of globalization. And far from being a characteristically religious perspective, such arguments are quite common in the overall literature, whether recognizably religious or not. What they imply, among other consequences, is that religion and religious sensibilities are at root outside of and contrary to globalization, that globalization and religion are fundamentally incommensurate. Another segment of both the religiously inspired and the secular literature, while often sharing many of the negative judgments, nonetheless sees a much closer relation between the two. As noted, these observers almost invariably share the broader meanings of globalization, especially the dialogical and from below perspectives.
Religious insider perspectives do not necessarily limit themselves to opposition, however. Some theologically oriented observers argue that religion has an essential role in shaping globalization; that the negative outcomes of globalization point to the need for a positive global ethic, which religions can provide. The efforts led by Hans Küng in this direction are perhaps the most well known. For Küng, not only does the globalized world require a guiding global ethic, but key to the development of that ethic is harmonious relations and dialogue among the world's religions. The combination signals a dialogical understanding of globalization that Küng shares with many other observers. Here it applies to religion: the globalized whole depends for its viability on the contribution of religion, yet this contribution presupposes a plurality of particular religions that come to understand themselves in positive relation to one another. Unity and diversity are both constitutive of the global. This core assumption of Küng's Global Ethic Project points to general features of how those contributions to the globalization debate that do not ignore religion have sought to understand its role in the process: as an important dimension of globalization that exhibits the characteristic dynamic tension between global and local, between homogeneity and heterogeneity, between the universal and the particular.
Religion and Religions in Globalization
Globalization perspectives seeking to include religion have taken several directions of which the following are likely the most significant. Certain approaches analyze religion as a global or transnational institution, whose diverse manifestations operate to a large extent independently of economic and political structures and that bind diverse regions of the world together in ways comparable to global trade, international relations, mass media, sport, communications media, or tourism. A second but related focus of observation is the role that religious systems play as powerful cultural resources for asserting identity and seeking inclusion in global society, especially among less powerful and marginalized populations. It is in this context that religio-political movements, including so-called fundamentalisms, receive the most focused attention. A third strategy goes even further, attempting to show how the formation, reformation, and spread of religions have been an integral dimension of globalization as such. From this angle, what we today conceive as the most typical forms of religion and even the typical understandings that we have of religion are themselves outcomes and reflections of the historical process of globalization. Although these three directions are by no means mutually exclusive, for the sake of presentation they can be treated separately. Each implies a somewhat different theoretical emphasis, and each also tends to focus on different empirical manifestations of religion in our world.
Religion as Transnational Institution
The relative absence of religion from many globalization perspectives and theories is in some respects quite surprising, especially when one looks at the issue historically. Of the forces that have in the past been instrumental in binding different regions of the world together, in creating a larger if not exactly a geographically global system, economic trade and political empire have certainly been the most obvious; but in conjunction with these, it is equally clear that what we today call religions have also at times played a significant role. Hindu civilization at one time spread throughout South and Southeast Asia. Buddhist teaching and monastic traditions linked together the vast territories from Sri Lanka and the Indian subcontinent, through Afghanistan and China to Korea, Japan, and most of Southeast Asia. In the early Middle Ages the Christian church was the only institution that overarched and even defined as a single social unit that northwestern portion of the Eurasian landmass known as Europe. And this largely over against its neighbor, Islam, which by the twelfth century ce had succeeded in weaving a socio-religious tapestry that extended from Europe and sub-Saharan Africa through all of Asia into the far reaches of Southeast Asia. It informed without doubt the largest world system before the arrival of the modern era.
Yet perhaps most important in this regard is that, as the European powers expanded their influence around the globe between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries, thus setting the conditions for contemporary truly worldwide globalization, Christian religion and Christian institutions were throughout that entire period key contributors to the process. The churches accompanied European colonizers in Africa, the Americas, and Australasia; Christian missions, whether independently or in conjunction with secular authorities, sought conversions in all corners of the globe. In consequence, today the vast majority of globally extended religious institutions are in fact Christian organizations and movements. A wide variety of these include, for instance, the Roman Catholic Church (along with many of its religious orders), several Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches, the World Council of Churches, Seventh-day Adventists, the worldwide Pentecostal movement, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Christian missions still crisscross the world: American missionaries are to be found in Latin America, Africa, and Asia; African and Latin American Christians conduct missions in Europe and the United States; Australians serve in India; South Koreans are a major presence in southern Africa; and everyone is trying to spread the word in the countries of the former Communist bloc.
Although Christian establishments thus dominate numerically, they are far from being alone among transnational religious institutions. Muslim movements and organizations such as the Ṣūfī and neo-Ṣūfī ṭarīqah, or brotherhoods (for example, Naqshbandīyah, Murīdīya, Qādirīyah), reform movements like the Pakistani Tablighi Jamaat and the Turkish Milli Görüş, and unity foundations like the World Muslim Congress or the World Muslim League are broadly established in different regions. They are far from negligible in importance. Buddhist organizations such as the Foguangshan or the Sōka Gakkai have a worldwide presence as do Hindu movements like the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and the Sai Baba movement. Parallel examples could be mentioned for other both major and minor religions ranging from Judaism, Sikhism, and Bahā'ī to Mormonism, Scientology, and the Brahmā Kumaris.
The specific literature on any of these is fairly substantial. Yet with some exceptions, notably Christian manifestations like the Roman Catholic Church and Pentecostalism, globalization perspectives have not concentrated on these perhaps most obvious of global religious forms as a characteristic dimension of the globalization process. Instead, a growing literature has been focusing on religion in the context of global migration. The more or less permanent displacement of large numbers of people from diverse regions and cultural backgrounds to many other parts of the world, but notably from non-Western to Western countries, has like few other phenomena brought home to an increasing range of observers just how much humanity is now living in a single world where identity and difference have to be renegotiated and reconstructed. Dialogical theories of globalization and those that stress globalization from below have been particularly apt to analyze the consequences of global migration, but the issue is not missing from many that understand globalization primarily in economic or political terms. Like global capitalism or international relations, this question is not susceptible to easy understanding on the basis of theories that take a more limited territory, above all a nation-state or a region like Europe, as their primary unit of analysis. In the context of the various other structures that make the world a smaller place, global migrants in recent times maintain far stronger and more lasting and consequential links with their countries of origin. Globalization approaches allow a better understanding of why they have migrated, what they do once they migrate, and the dynamics of their integration or lack thereof into their new regions.
Given that religious institutions, religiously informed worldviews, and religious practice are so often instrumental in these processes, the growing number of efforts to understand religion's role among global migrants is not surprising. Such contributions have focused on the concrete religious institutions of the migrants in their new homes, the immigration and integration policies and attitudes of the host countries, the transnational links and flows that the migrants maintain, and the influence of these diasporic communities on the global religions that are usually involved. Not infrequently in such analyses, the sorts of transnational religious organizations and movements just mentioned are salient topics, since the migrant communities are often instrumental in bringing about, developing, and maintaining their global character. Thus, for instance, we have consideration of Senegalese murīd presence in the United States, Taiwanese Foguangshan establishments in Canada, Turkish Süleymanli communities in Germany, Tablighi Jamaat mosques in Great Britain, Japanese Buddhist temples in Brazil, as well as African or Latin American Pentecostal churches in North America and Europe. As this illustrative list demonstrates, the bulk of this literature reflects the fact that it is people in Western countries that carry out most of such globalization analyses. This imbalance needs yet to be corrected. Nonetheless, the examples do demonstrate one of the important ways that globalization perspectives are being applied to religion, and conversely how the analysis of religion is coming to inform theories of globalization themselves. Moreover, the consideration of the role of transnational religious institutions in the context of global migration already implicates the second way that religion has been understood as a significant contributor to globalization processes, and that is as a cultural, but especially political resource.
Religion as Cultural and Political Resource
People who migrate from one part of the world to another in search of a better life often depend on their religions and their religious institutions to address an array of attendant problems. Religion can furnish them with a strong sense of identity and integrity in a situation where they may be strangers. Churches, temples, mosques, gurdwara s, and synagogues can serve as a home away from home where one can speak one's language, eat one's food, congregate with people who share one's situation, and even attain a measure of status that one is denied in the new host society. For many poorer migrants, religious institutions offer vital social services that make survival and establishment in the new land even possible. They may also provide a principal conduit for maintaining ties with the places of origin. In these circumstances religion both is the means for global connectivity and makes up important content of global flows. Globalization affords conditions for the elaboration of new and expanded transnational establishments whose primary reason for existence is religious but that also serve an array of other purposes. They are at the same time, however, important local institutions, places where people go in their everyday lives for everyday reasons. Thus, to take but one example, a Christian church founded by Mexican migrants in Atlanta is an important community resource for its participants, but it may also have ties with the church back in the Mexican village from which most of them originate, providing financial and other resources for that village church as well. The religious institution properly speaking includes both localities and is not properly understood unless one takes both into consideration. Globalization perspectives afford that inclusive view.
The role of religion in providing, broadly speaking, cultural resources in a global context is not limited to the situation of migrants, however. Globalization, irrespective of which meaning one favors, implies a kind of compression of space in which the upheaval and uprooting characteristic of the migratory experience are the lot of a great many of the world's people, whether they leave their homes or not. Parallel circumstances in Africa and Latin America can serve to make this similarity clear. Both these continents have large regions and large populations that are effectively excluded from the main globalized power structures, yet their lives are nonetheless profoundly affected by them. Religion and religious institutions are important resources for responding to the situation. In Latin America, for instance, one reason for the rapid rise of Pentecostal Christian churches along with significant growth among Afro-Brazilian religions like Candomblé and certain Roman Catholic movements is that these institutional religious forms provide people with ways of understanding themselves and coping in a world where their situation is changing and often precarious. They afford people narratives with attendant life practices by which they can give themselves a meaningful and dignified place in this world. Religion lends them a measure of power. Even more clearly, in sub-Saharan Africa above all Christian and Islamic organizations, centers, networks, and movements offer large numbers of people at least some access to an institution that actually functions reasonably to their benefit. Although they are localized institutions and largely in the control of local people, a far from insignificant part of the appeal of these religious establishments is that they have links to and represent access to the wider globalized world. This has always been one of the attractions of both Christianity and Islam; they have in effect been global religions for many centuries. In today's world they continue to fill that role. The degree to which religions contribute to the globalized circumstance as well as their character as globalized institutions becomes evident in these cases.
As noted earlier, the one phenomenon that has attracted the most attention to the global significance of religions is the proliferation of effective religio-political movements in almost all regions of the world. From the rise of Hindu nationalism in India and the heavy political involvement of certain Buddhist organizations in Japan to the many highly politicized Islamicist movements in countries as diverse as Iran, Indonesia, and Nigeria, politicized religion has been a constant feature of the global world since at least the 1960s and in many respects well back into the nineteenth century. Although the literature often analyzes them under the somewhat tendentious label of fundamentalisms, two of their most basic features illustrate quite clearly how relevant they are for theories of globalization and how they manifest the global nature of so much contemporary religion.
The first is simply that they have arisen in so many different countries, and almost always on the basis of the traditions and institutions of one of the globally recognized religions such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, or Buddhism. Religions that are very different from one another provide the resources for remarkably similar political movements. The fact that one of the broadly homologous modern states is invariably implicated by such movements is one reason for this similarity, but so is the explicitly global view that they typically represent. Whether one takes the Islamic revolution in Iran, the religious Zionists of Israel, the Christian Right in the United States, liberation theological movements in Latin America, Sōka Gakkai in Japan, the Hindu nationalism of the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh in India, or a host of other examples, most of these movements have justified themselves explicitly in global terms, in addition to local or national ones. Even the Islamicist Taliban in Afghanistan, a movement with hardly any global consciousness when it formed in the early 1990s, very much saw itself in global terms by the time the American-led invasion ousted its government in 2001. What these religio-political movements therefore also demonstrate once again is how localized religion does not have to be globally extended, let alone positive toward the process of globalization, for it to be globally relevant and therefore for globalization theories to be useful in understanding them.
Religion and Religions as Globalizing System
A further theoretical approach to the role of religion and religions in globalization goes beyond the idea that religious worldviews and institutions have participated in the process. It focuses on the degree to which both modern institutional forms and modern understandings of religion are themselves manifestations of globalization. With the centuries-long development of what is today a globally extended society, religion came to inform what is today a globally extended religious system consisting primarily of a series of mutually identified and broadly recognized religions. These religions, in virtually every region of the globe, include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, but a variable list of other religions receives almost as broad legitimacy. Among these are Judaism, Sikhism, Daoism, and Jainism, followed again by another set of less consistently or more regionally accepted ones such as Bahāʾī, Shintō, Candomblé, African Traditional Religions (ATR), Scientology, and so forth. The idea that religion manifests itself through a series of distinct religions may seem self-evident to many people, including a great many of their adherents. Yet that notion is historically of quite recent provenance. In Europe, where this understanding first gained purchase, it dates back at the earliest to the seventeenth century. Elsewhere, such as in most regions of Asia, one must wait until at least the nineteenth century. Its development and spread is entirely coterminous with the period most theories identify as the prime centuries of globalization.
For this approach to religion and globalization, the construction of the religious system is not only recent. It is also quite selective; not every possible religion, not everything possibly religious counts. Symptomatic of both aspects are ongoing and recent debates among scholars of religion concerning the meaning of the concept and its supposed Eurocentrism. One perspective in these controversies has it that religion is at best an abstract term, useful for certain kinds of analysis but not something real that is actually out there in the world. A prime argument in support of this position is how the ideas of religion as a separate domain of life and of the distinct religions are so demonstrably products of relatively recent history and so clearly attendant upon and implicated in the concomitant spread of Christian and European influence around the world. Another is that religions is empirically too narrow, as what is meant by them does not cover nearly everything in our world that is manifestly religious using slightly different notions of religion. Cogent as such arguments are, however, they point exactly to what the theory under review states: a peculiar way of understanding religion and institutionally embodying religion has developed in conjunction with and as an expression of the process of globalization. It is accepted and contested right around the world. Similar to global capitalism and the global system of sovereign states, the idea and its putting into practice exclude as well as include. It also involves power and imposition, as do all human institutions. And just as antiglobalization movements are themselves important manifestations of that which they seemingly oppose, so too is contestation—whether academic, theological, or broadly political—with reference to religion and the religions symptomatic of the social and cultural reality that it contests.
A strict corollary of this theory, a consequence of the selective nature of this religious system, is that new religions will constantly try to form and that much religiosity will escape the system. The existence of this global religious system, simultaneously at the global and local levels, therefore spawns its constant development and the constant challenging of the way it operates. That idea leads logically to consideration of the religiousness of the global system itself.
Religion, Globalization, and the Human Condition
More than a few theories of globalization explicitly address what one might call its ideal dimension, the way it shapes how people understand the nature and purpose of the world and their place in it. Given that such questions of ultimate concern or purpose often appear as defining features of religion, this ideal dimension can also be conceived as its religious dimension, although thereby not necessarily referring to the role of religious traditions and institutions in it. One can divide the analyses of this dimension of globalization according to whether it is seen as a positive or negative feature, and whether unity or diversity of vision dominates.
Positive and unitary interpretations come in a number of variants. There are still a few that see globalization as inevitably moving the world toward a future of ever greater material prosperity, political democracy, and technological progress shared equitably among all peoples. Far more numerous are those that share ideals such as equality and inclusion of all people in the benefits of global society, perhaps under the rubric of universal human rights; but they consider that at the very least human society has a long way to go before these are realizable, and that certain features of globalization actually stand in the way of their realization. Several perspectives grounded in institutionalized religion fall under this heading, for instance, the already discussed Global Ethic Project led by Hans Küng, or the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation program of the World Council of Churches. Typically, these and other examples consider such values as equality among peoples, religions, classes, and genders to be completely unquestionable. With equal self-evidence they exhibit strong ecological sensibility and valorize the natural environment. Into this category also belong those social-scientific approaches that stress the global preponderance of idealized models, especially models of progressive economy, the nation-state, education, legal structures, mass media, art, and culture.
Unitary but negative visions share most of these characteristics but reject the idea that any of these developments can have a positive outcome. Sometimes these take world-rejecting communitarian directions, advocating retreat from the globalized world. Ironically perhaps, it is not uncommon for these visions to espouse precisely the sort of egalitarian values typical of the positive versions but insist that this is only possible in a separated—and usually quite small-scale—society. Some subdivisions of environmental and back-to-nature movements exemplify this possibility. In many respects they are mirror images of globalized society, and in that respect reflections of it. By contrast, there are those rejections of a unitary globalization that insist on the unique validity of a particular culture or society. Some so-called fundamentalist visions fall in this category, but it must be stressed how comparatively rare they are. The Afghan Pashtun Taliban, in contrast to most Islamicist perspectives, may have been one of the few.
Pluralist visions of the world are variations on the unitary ones, putting greater stress on, respectively, the difference or the irreconcilability of diverse worldviews. The clash of civilizations model made famous by Samuel Huntington is representative of a negative version, dependent as it is on the idea—not to say ideal—that quasi-essential civilizations with particular characteristics actually exist logically prior to the globalized context in which mutually identifying them might make sense. Pluralist positive perspectives, by contrast, are even more mere variations on the unitary variety: the value of pluralist and egalitarian inclusion here is simply more strongly emphasized.
What is therefore especially noteworthy of all these representations of globalization's ideal dimension is just how close they are to one another. Without in the least underplaying the degree to which globalization entails vast differences in power and influence among different regions and different people; without denying the significant contestation, even conflict, between different visions of what the global world is or should be; this seeming narrowing of alternative world visions may in the end be one of the most powerful symptoms of the social reality which the idea of globalization seeks to name.
Ahmed, Akbar S. Islam, Globalization and Postmodernity. London, 1994. An earlier work that deals well with the challenges that globalization presents for one of the major religions that is not Christianity. It explodes the myth that Islam is somehow fundamentally antiglobal or incapable of responding positively.
Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis, 1996. A much cited and influential work that presents globalization from below and stresses the contested, pluralistic, and even chaotic character of globalization. It pays little attention to religion in any form.
Bauman, Zygmunt. Globalization: The Human Consequences. London, 1998. An excellent work not only in terms of the problematic outcomes of globalization but also in the way that it clearly shows how globalization involves a dialogical simultaneity of the global and the local.
Beck, Ulrich. World Risk Society. London, 1999. In focusing on the idea of risk among other concepts, this work presents a perspective on global society that stresses its somewhat unique features. It is in this way good for understanding how global society is different from nonglobal ones.
Berger, Peter L., and Samuel P. Huntington, eds. Many Globalizations: Cultural Diversity in the Contemporary World. Oxford, 2002. A compendium of chapters written by people in a wide variety of different countries, it is valuable for appreciating how globalization is constituted as much by local response and appropriation as by homogenizing imposition.
Beyer, Peter. Religion and Globalization. London, 1994. The first work entirely dedicated to the topic from the perspective of a theory of globalization, it focuses primarily on religion as a political resource in the context of global society.
Beyer, Peter, ed. Religion im Prozeß der Globalisierung (Religion in the Process of Globalization ). Würzburg, 2001. A collection of theoretical and empirical articles about globalization and the possible place of religion in it. Contains a chapter in which the editor outlines key aspects of his theory of a global religious system.
Braman, Sandra, and Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammedi, eds. Globalization, Communication and Transnational Civil Society. Cresskill, N.J., 1996. A good representative sample of contributions that stress globalization from below and thereby the dimensions of globalization not subsumed under economic and political perspectives.
Castles, Stephen. Ethnicity and Globalization: From Migrant Worker to Transnational Citizen. London, 2000. A work that focuses on the important process of transnational migration and its consequences, it is representative of much such work that, while important, tends to ignore religion almost completely.
Chidester, David. Savage Systems: Colonialism and Comparative Religion in Southern Africa. Charlottesville, Va., 1996. A fine analysis of the modern development and use of the idea of religion as exemplified in the colonial history of South Africa. It demonstrates both the selectivity and the recentness of this development.
Coleman, Simon. The Globalisation of Charismatic Christianity: Spreading the Gospel of Prosperity. Cambridge, U.K., 2000. Although largely an analysis of the Pentecostalism of one Swedish church, this work simultaneously shows how understanding this important Christian phenomenon benefits from a globalization perspective.
Ebaugh, Helen Rose, and Janet Saltzman Chafetz, eds. Religion across Borders: Transnational Migrant Networks. Walnut Creek, Calif., 2002. The outcome of research on immigrant religious communities in Houston, Texas, this work shows graphically how migrant religion is at the same time very local and very global in its connections and meanings.
Haynes, Jeff. Religion in Global Politics. London and New York, 1998. An excellent survey of religio-political movements and implications around the world.
Held, David, and Anthony McGrew, eds. The Global Transformations Reader: An Introduction to the Globalization Debate. Cambridge, U.K., 2003. A good compendium of most aspects of the globalization debate, including the many and contested meanings of the term. Religion, however, is not well covered.
Hopkins, Dwight N., Lois Ann Lorentzen, Eduardo Mendieta, and David Batstone, eds. Religions/Globalizations: Theories and Cases. Durham, N.C., 2001. A collection of case studies, some theoretical, some empirical. Articles on Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America are particularly valuable.
Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New Delhi, 1996. The classic statement of the thesis. A notable aspect of the work is that Western civilization in particular is called to take note.
Juergensmeyer, Mark, ed. Global Religions: An Introduction. Oxford, 2003. A collection of articles, mostly about each of the major world religions, with overview articles attached. Good for getting a sense of some of the issues involved in each of the five majors along with African and indigenous traditions.
Küng, Hans. A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics. Translated by John Bowden. New York, 1998. A critical examination of what this influential Catholic theologian believes is needed for a healthier globalization.
Levitt, Peggy. The Transnational Villagers. Berkeley, Calif., 2001. An excellent work that shows just how difficult it is to understand the lives of contemporary global migrants if one does not take the global into perspective. The author also appreciates the importance of religion.
Martin, David. Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish. Oxford, 2002. To some extent a comparison of Latin America and Europe, the book emphasizes the simultaneously local and global character of this Christian movement. Also contains excellent theoretical reflections on the issue from a sociological perspective.
Meyer, Birgit, and Peter Geschiere, eds. Globalization and Identity: Dialectics of Flow and Closure. Oxford, 1999. A collection of works on Africa, another region where the local and global occur simultaneously. Good attention to religious dimensions.
Meyer, John W., John Boli, George M. Thomas, and Francisco O. Ramirez. "World Society and the Nation-State." American Journal of Sociology 103, no. 1 (1997): 144–181. A succinct statement of an important theory of globalization that posits the existence of a world polity in which globalized models inform what people do in all parts of the world. Also stresses the ideal or religious dimension of globalization overall.
Nederveen Pieterse, Jan. Globalization and Culture: Global Melange. Lanham, Md., 2003. A good statement of globalization as what the author calls hybridization, not the juxtaposing of preexisting cultural identities so much as the re-creation of these identities and thereby their creative mixing and reinvention.
Prazniak, Roxann, and Arif Dirlik, eds. Places and Politics in an Age of Globalization. Lanham, Md., 2001. Another work that stresses the simultaneity of global and local with special attention to marginalized groups, women, and environmental issues.
Robertson, Roland. Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture. London, 1992. The thus far classic statement of a highly influential and dialogical theory of globalization by the sociologist who first used the term technically and consistently in the 1980s. Sensitive to the importance of religion in the process.
Rothstein, Mikael, ed. New Age Religion and Globalization. Aarhus, 2001. A collection that debates an important domain of noninstitutionalized religiosity, with special emphasis on the question of whether New Age is basically Western or by now also global.
Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber, and James Piscatori, eds. Transnational Religion and Fading States. Boulder, Colo., 1997. A collection of articles primarily on Islam and Christianity. Contains a fine chapter by José Casanova on the Roman Catholic Church.
Scholte, Jan Aart. Globalization: A Critical Introduction. London, 2000. A very good introductory work on the entire question with some sensitivity to the role of religion.
Stackhouse, Max L., and Peter J. Paris, eds. God and Globalization: Religion and the Powers of the Common Life. Harrisburg, Pa., 2000. A collection of different perspectives including good theological reflections on the globalization process.
van Binsbergen, Wim, and Rijk van Dijk, eds. Situating Globality: African Agency in the Appropriation of Global Culture. Leiden, 2004. A further work on the important region of Africa. Well-balanced, with good emphasis on religion, both Islam and Christianity, and on women.
Van der Veer, Peter, ed. Conversion to Modernities: The Globalization of Christianity. London, 1996. A collection of articles on the particularization of Christianity in diverse parts of the world that demonstrates the degree to which this has also become a non-Western religion.
Vásquez, Manuel A., and Marie Friedmann Marquardt. Globalizing the Sacred: Religion across the Americas. New Brunswick, N.J., 2003. A very fine work that demonstrates in ethnographic detail, focusing on Latin America and the United States, how the highly localized religions of migrants and marginalized peoples have a global dimension. A good example of globalization from below.
Wallerstein, Immanuel. The Modern World System. 3 vols. New York, 1974–1980. An early and classic work on the historical development of the global capitalist system, it presents an excellent theoretical and empirical analysis of economic globalization.
Peter Beyer (2005)