Dictionary of Globalisation: A Guide to Global Village Culture

A new Dictionary of Globalisation (in German) provides both basic terminology and in-depth background information on the phenomenon of globalisation. As part of a Translational Research project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, global interconnections and interdependent processes have been identified and made available for use by experts and the public – with resounding success: the book already reached seventh place on the most prominent German-language non-fiction bestseller list a few weeks ago. The urgent need for such a dictionary shows how basic research can support everyday application in a targeted way.

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"Globalisation", "identity" and "multiculturalism" are popular terms that are widely used in everyday contexts. Due to their dynamic development, however, their meaning has tended to become increasingly vague. A German Dictionary of Globalisation now provides orientation in this terminological jungle. Almost 150 entries invite readers to deepen their awareness and understanding of these terms. With the help of the dictionary, they can trace historical and current developments of key terms, which are often used in a thoughtless and exaggerated way. Examples are used to illustrate the meaning of the terms in everyday contexts. This enables users to utilise the terms in everyday contexts in a considered and appropriate way.

The Dictionary of Globalisation is based on the research work carried out by social and cultural anthropologist Prof. Andre Gingrich from the Institute for Social Anthropology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Prof. Gingrich received the Wittgenstein Award in the year 2000 – which, with a prize fund of up to EUR 1.5 million, is Austria's best endowed and most prestigious scientific award: "These funds enabled us to develop the research field of cultural and social anthropology in Austria. Our research was particularly focused on the area of local identities and wider, supra-local influences", explains Prof. Gingrich.

Globalisation Realism

Opinion is divided as to how long the world has been "moving closer" in the process of globalisation, as well as how long cultures and societies have been influencing each other: "The dictionary enables the realistic assessment of this phenomenon. We have been living in a global world since the first voyages of discovery, migratory movements and colonial entanglements", says Prof. Gingrich. "However, the global dominance of the capitalist market economy and technological innovations only recently have made globalisation something that can be experienced on the level of everyday life throughout the world." Cultural and social anthropology enables the adoption of a necessary position of globalisation realism between the extremes of "globalisation fetishism" and denial. Researching encounters between cultures and their impacts is its particular strength as a discipline. The main findings of an FWF Translational Research project involving over eight years of development work have now been "translated" for application by experts and the general public. These have been published jointly by Prof. Gingrich, medical anthropologist Dr. Eva-Maria Knoll and social anthropologist Fernand Kreff, MA, as the "Lexikon der Globalisierung" (Dictionary of Globalisation). Prof. Gingrich explains: "Our main aim was to achieve this important step in mediating between scientific research and application-oriented practices." Building this bridge was facilitated by the Wittgenstein Award-winner's prominent international position and excellent contacts with experts from all scientific disciplines. "We succeeded in assembling almost 150 original entries by 117 scientific authors from five continents in a single volume. These were translated, among others, from English, French and Portuguese into German", reports Prof. Gingrich. As a result, the bundled expertise of a number of scientific disciplines such as social anthropology, economics, history, linguistics, sociology and science studies has been made available for use in everyday contexts.

The Everyday Reality of Globalisation

The scientific contributions in the dictionary are shorter, more accessible and therefore easier to read than the articles published in scientific journals. They are complemented by examples collected from field studies on everyday life in the globalised world: from the nomads of the Sahara to a woman from the Südburgenland region of Austria, people share their experiences with the dictionary's readers and make it easy for them to understand and identify with them. The everyday applicability and user friendliness of the dictionary also reflect the intensive consideration given to its target audience. "We invited representatives of various professional groups to express their interest in a straightforward and clear but also in-depth book on this topic," explains Prof. Gingrich. Economic experts, civil servants, development workers, social workers, migration counsellors, teachers and first-year university students were involved in numerous test phases. Thanks to this "reality check" the preconditions necessary for making the Dictionary of Globalisation a successful "translation" for practical and every day use in every respect were fulfilled. This is clearly confirmed by its position among the top-ten German-language non-fiction bestsellers. As the "tangible" result of an FWF project, the dictionary shows how research can offer the public concrete assistance in responding to fundamental issues far removed from the ivory tower.

Scientific contact
Prof. Dr. Andre Gingrich
Austrian Academy of Sciences
Institute for Social Anthropology
Apostelgasse 23
1030 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 515 81 – 6451
andre.gingrich(at)oeaw.ac.at

Austrian Science Fund FWF
Mag. Stefan Bernhardt
Haus der Forschung
Sensengasse 1
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 505 67 40 - 8111

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Vienna, June 26th, 2012