The present volume is the result of the extremely dense and enthusiastic activity of a research team from the SOP HRD/159/1.5/S/133675 Project “Innovation and development in structuring and representing knowledge through doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships (IDSRC – doc postdoc)”, Romanian Academy, Iasi Branch. The team had as its principal research objective the investigation of what we called the re thinking of the political in contemporary society, with particular attention paid to globalization, consumerism, and the grid of economic efficiency imposed today all over the world.
I consider that the volume as a whole and each study in particular should be left to speak for themselves. However, I think that some general explanations and a minimal presentation of the contributions will be of real help to the reader.
As will be seen, the authors aim to focus their contributions – but not exclusively – on the elements that generated a rapid and often uncritical and brutal reconfiguration of the political in the past decades: a) globalization, which – through the mobility (voluntary or forced) of individuals and capital, through the Internet and the new digital media – affects the mode of participation in the political space; b) consumption / consumerism, which both theoretically and practically is becoming the decisive social component by which citizens are judging the quality of today’s democracy, representing also the means by which political participation is handled and often clouded; c) economic efficiency, which – through neoliberal policies, outsourcing and privatization and through the competition between states – was recently established as the quasi universal criterion by which the public sectors (such as education or health system) and their relations with the citizens are reshaped. To these we shall add such indisputable phenomena as accelerated environmental degradation, moral drift in all social categories, violent cultural uprooting caused by secularism etc.
A special interest was given to the phenomena linked with the process of globalization. Some of the authors analyzed how political and cultural elements, trends and forces are interfering in explanations of the contemporary phenomenon of globalization, which is considered to be decisive. They started from the observation that globalization is not only the fundamental cause which determines the emergence of new realities in the two basic registers of human behavior, but also the effect of profound changes taking place in social, cultural and political spheres. This also means to envisage in a dynamic perspective the economic phenomena that globalization is often reduced to, a perspective in which the economic factors are in a continuous interaction with the cultural and political ones. After all, at the end of such an analysis we might find that one of the distinguishing features of today’s globalization is precisely the impossibility to entirely separate from a theoretical perspective these factors that contribute to determine a complex and continuously changing reality. As we fixed in the title of the team’s exploratory workshop that constituted the basis for this volume, there is an “interplay” between the political and the cultural (but also the economic, the social, etc.) in the globalization process. This is the difficulty, but also the challenge – and, why not, the chance – of this kind of investigation. The fact that the authors investigated – often in a philosophical manner – the political and not only the politics clearly expresses this fundamental hypothesis.
However, the plurality of perspectives the political could be approached from is obvious. Far for being a methodological failure or deficiency, this is in our opinion an argument for the richness of the topic – and also of its scholarly urgency. A brief review of the main ideas discussed by the authors in this volume will be an evidence for supporting the above statement and of help for the lecturer.