Monday, October 01, 2007

October 2007 Book Club Selection: Jihad vs. McWorld, Benjamin Barber

Barber's work may be the most influential of the last 10 years

To many academics, Benjamin Barber has become the dominant author in the field of cultural studies.

Jihad vs. McWorld has become one of the most bandied about pieces of work in the entire field, yet it is one that few people seem to have actually read.

In the book, Barber essentially claims there are two dichotomic forces at work in the world today: that of tribalism (grounded in identity politics) and that of globalism (grounded primarily in pluralism and consumerism).

Barber essentially argues that, as globalism spreads around the globe, it provokes various forms of tribalism, as old-fashioned people react adversely to the new and threatening cultural values that globalism brings, values that all too often seem to threaten to supplant the traditional values that Jihadists champion.

Yet, Barber notes, the matter is simpler than merely opposing forces. All too often, Jihad and McWorld work through one another, as consumerism often becomes rooted in identiy politics (an idea he exmplores further in Consumed).

Barber's masterpiece isn't merely a benchmark in cultural studies, it is also the keystone for virtually all of Barber's subsequent work. For anyone who intends to read any of Barber's work, Jihad vs. McWorld is required reading.

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