Globalization poses a challenge to existing social scientific methods of inquiry and units of analysis by destabilizing the embeddedness of social relations in particular communities and places. Ethnographic sites are globalized by means of various external connections across multiple spatial scales and porous and contested boundaries. Global ethnographers must begin their analysis by seeking out "place-making projects" that seek to define new kinds of places, with new definitions of social relations and their boundaries. Existing ethnographic studies of global processes tend to cluster under one of three slices of globalization-global forces, connections, or imaginations-each defined by a different kind of place-making project. The extension of the site in time and space poses practical and conceptual problems for ethnographers, but also political ones. Nonetheless, by locating themselves firmly within the time and space of social actors "living the global," ethnographers can reveal how global processes are collectively and politically constructed, demonstrating the variety of ways in which globalization is grounded in the local.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-295
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
StatePublished - 2002


  • Globalization
  • Local-global relations
  • Transnationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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