Talking about the Psychology of Globalization without Mention of “the Powerless”

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Bilal AFSIN, York University, Canada
This paper summarizes different approaches to globalization in the discipline of psychology and points out that it is very problematic to talk about globalization without mentioning power differentials. There is an intellectual ambivalence towards globalization that results in academics seeing it both as an opportunity for developing awareness of cultural diversity and as a sign of cultural colonization. Most psychologists believe that globalization leads to culturally benign conditions such as hybridization, cultural diversity and intercultural contact in a peaceful manner. If we “uncritically” accept these concepts, it may make us blind to power differentials. Although globalization has not drawn much attention from psychologists, the ones who are interested in this topic, especially social psychologists, appear to be more prone to naive optimism regarding the potential consequences of globalization. Therefore, in order to avoid being a naively optimistic psychologist, I offer to evaluate globalization as seen through power differentials and neo-liberalism.

Psychologists are now more open and sensitive including to different cultural approaches, creating a more culture-inclusive discipline compared with psychology thirty years ago. However, although we can simply define globalization as the increasing inter-cultural flow, psychologists should be aware that the direction of this intercultural flow is shaped by economic and political forces. The conflict of globalization is bearing witness to an age in which some people try to live a better life while some others try to survive. Psychologists have a responsibility to recognize this conflict and attempt to do their best to strive for social justice.