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The Social Process of Globalization
Return Migration and Cultural Change in Kazakhstan


  • Date Published: December 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107129689

£ 74.99

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About the Authors
  • It is often argued that globalization fosters 'hybridity', as some cultural imports are accepted, while others are 'localized', and others still are rejected outright. Yet we know relatively little about the social processes and mechanisms involved in cultural globalization. This book offers an empirically rich and theoretically compelling analysis of how cultural globalization occurs, including the structural conditions, personal meanings and social interactions associated with various outcomes. Providing a detailed analysis of the experiences of young people from Kazakhstan who lived in the United States temporarily, the author asks, how do return migrants react to cultural differences in America, and what changes do they try to incorporate into their lives back in Kazakhstan? What kinds of negotiations ensue, and what explains their success or failure? In answering these questions, Douglas W. Blum combines insights from sociology and anthropology along with specialized research on globalization, migration and post-Soviet studies.

    • Provides an original theoretical analysis of the social process of cultural globalization
    • Features an empirically rich study of cultural change in Kazakhstan shedding new light on return migration and cultural globalization in post-Soviet Central Asia
    • Provides a new synthesis of the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu and Margaret Archer
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Blum's book is a contribution to our understanding of the globalization of culture and specifically the way that young people who have spent time in the US adapt to life and interpret their own experiences and identities once they have returned to their home country. Blum recognizes that this process is not just the result of structural forces, but also depends on the tools and preferences of individuals who engage in an ongoing process of reflection and negotiation both abroad and at home. The analysis is both theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich, with observations that easily translate beyond the particular cultural context of Kazakhstan.' Laura L. Adams, Former Director, Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus, Harvard University, Massachusetts

    'A lively excursion into the everyday worlds of fresh global propositions.' Bruce Grant, New York University

    'Whereas it has become a truism that cultural globalization is happening, there has been precious little investigation of what the mechanism of cultural globalization looks like on the ground. In this theoretically rich and insightful study of Kazakh students and young professionals who travel to the US for a few months and then return home, Blum uses captivating empirical data to show that cultural change is a social process that takes place in concrete interpersonal interactions and is governed by the agency and mindset of those who travel between worlds.' Valerie Sperling, Clark University, Massachusetts

    'Reading this book will captivate everyone interested in this field of research, especially those examining the cultural changes that have occurred in post-Soviet societies. … This book provides a fascinating starting point … particularly as it constitutes a truly scientific study characterised by objectivity and neutrality as opposed to the pathos of official reports or sceptical articles about the waste of public funds on expensive training that are frequently published in Kazakhstan.' Gulnar Nadirova and Anar Mustafayeva, Europe-Asia Studies

    'The book stands out as a result of its combined theoretical and empirical rigor. It is surprising to find such a detailed theoretical account that then builds upon existing approaches by identifying and resolving their nuanced differences. Moreover, the empirical work is excellent, with the author conducting ninety-two semi-structured interviews between 2011 and 2012. The author chose primarily students and interns because they were the most likely to be agents of cultural change (and as the author correctly points out his research seeks to study cultural transformation rather than cultural reproduction).' John Glenn, Slavic Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107129689
    • length: 224 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Moving beyond hybridity
    2. Kazakhstan: the local context of globalization
    3. Theory: explaining cultural stability and change
    4. Return migrants and the negotiation of cultural difference
    5. Patterns of social and cultural change
    6. Conclusions: globalization, reflexivity and return migration.

  • Author

    Douglas W. Blum, Providence College, Rhode Island
    Douglas W. Blum is Professor of Political Science at Providence College. His current research focuses on the connections between globalization and identity in the former USSR, and his publications include National Identity and Globalization: Youth, State, and Society in Post-Soviet Eurasia (Cambridge, 2007).

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