Understanding Some Theoretical Perspectives

When I think of the term “global citizen,” I envision someone most likely foreign who has all sorts of worldly experiences. Experiencing the world gives a person first hand knowledge on many of the issues and conflicts faced by many different groups around the globe. One quality a global citizen should have is an unbiased view on all sorts of issues presented to them. They take into consideration humanity and the world as a whole rather than their immediate surroundings. It’s also the perception and understanding that everything is connected. Lastly, for the reasons above, a global citizen also believes that everyone should be given an equal opportunity at life.

What does that even mean? To be given an opportunity at “life.” It’s a bit of a vague statement repeated frequently when concerning the beliefs of a global citizen. A lot of it is connected to the issue of human rights. A chance at life means a chance to acquire an education, to not be stuck in poverty, to possibly make a difference in the world. A global citizen works to make this a possible reality that some others might believe to be impossible.

Something that all self-proclaimed global citizens need to have knowledge on is some of sociology’s theoretical perspectives. Whether or not they realize that these are widespread viewpoints among sociologists, knowledge concerning these is vital to any global citizen.

The first theoretical perspective is functionalism, or the belief that everything is interconnected in many than just a few ways. Every action or belief presented by someone has widespread effects throughout society, as well as the world. For example, building a factory but improve efficiency for one society, but pollute food and water sources for another. The understanding that actions can be more widespread than just their immediate side effects is crucial. Also actions that seemed positive at first can actually hurt societies more than they help. This is vital when examining charity; sometimes giving can hurt populations as shown in the book “Toxic Charity” from my SOC111 class.

Another theoretical perspective to take into account is conflict theory. Thought up by Karl Marx, it examines the division of power throughout societies. More importantly it studies the relationship between the “powerful” and the “powerless.” This is central to societies stricken by poverty that have a large gap between the rich and the poor
Lastly, and possibly most importantly is symbolic interactionism. This studies the interactions between people, groups, and even entire nations. This is important in examining how different groups come together globally, but is also vital on a more personal level. Being a global citizen isn’t done easily; it takes a lot of effort want to make such a difference in the world. “It commands optimism in the face of certain knowledge that earth is vulnerable – environmentally, politically, and socially” (University of British Columbia). Viewing and analyzing how different groups interact, but taking that next step and actually interacting with the world around you, as a global citizen, is quite challenging..

That being said I feel that though I may not be very high on the global citizenship scale, I have much growth potential. I haven’t had any out-of-country experience in any of these areas, and limited experience here in the states. Recognizing the problems that many groups throughout the world face, as well as realizing the qualities of global citizenship are major first steps. “The very notion of global citizenship is a challenge: it suggests big responsibilities in a small world” (University of British Columbia). In order for a person to call his or herself a global citizen, he/she must look past the stereotypes of race, ethnicity, gender, etc., but rather view humanity as one united being.

 

Arcaro, Tom. “Beyond the Pledge of Allegiance: Becoming a Responsible World Citizen.”

Ferrante, Joan. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7E ed. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2008. Print.

The University of British Columbia. “Defining – and Modeling – Global Citizenship.” – UBC 2004 / 05 Annual Report. N.p., 2004. Web.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted June 8, 2013 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    You have some good beginning thoughts here on gc, and I appreciate the humility with which you approach the enormity of the undertaking to understand and to attempt to become a gc. We all need to go beyond the “otherism” that we pick up in our home culture, and that can be difficult.

  2. Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Being a global citizen isn’t done easily; it takes a lot of effort want to make such a difference in the world. “It commands optimism in the face of certain knowledge that earth is vulnerable – environmentally, politically, and socially” (University of British Columbia).

    When I was reading your post, this section really stood out to me because I think it accurately illustrates the common fatalistic attitude of “the masses” in response to environmental, political and social issues. In the face of so many perceived global problems, it is absolutely necessary to maintain optimism as a global citizen and you are so right for including this quality.

  3. Posted June 6, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I really like your definition of a global citizen and your seem to have a lot of knowledge surrounding this topic. I also agree that before anyone to consider themselves a global citizen they must look past stereotypes and look at everyone as a unique being.