Instigating change in a globalised social environment : the impact of globalisation upon the promotion of vegetarianism in the United Kingdom
In this thesis I examine globalisation as an ongoing social change to understand how it is routinely reproduced by social actors. To do this I consider the impacts of globalisation in an existing social setting and use a conceptual framework from the sociological literature to interpret and explain the evidence. The empirical materials were gathered during an ethnographic case study of The Vegetarian Society - an interest group that actively promoted social change by presenting everyday individual food consumption in the manner of reflexive 'life politics'. I use the concepts of 'interpenetration', 'relativisation', 'detraditionalisation' and 'institutional reflexivity' to indicate that processes of globalisation were routinely reproduced as contexts and consequences of the organisation's motivated social activity. I define globalisation as a change evident in individual consciousness, social systems and in the reflexive relation between them and accordingly, the findings centre on three issues. The first is the use of global images and language in the promotional literature (instrumentally recontextualised to promote vegetarianism) and its relation to global consciousness. The second is the relations between The Vegetarian Society and other agents within globalised social systems (where negotiations to initiate change often required compromise and pragmatism) and the contribution to systemic reproduction. The third is The Vegetarian Society's changing role (as vegetarianism entered the 'mainstream') where it was reflexively repositioning to continue achieving its aims in a 'post-traditional' (global) social order. The Vegetarian Society was enabled and constrained by these intersecting processes of globalisation as it continued to instigate change within globalised social structures (evident in changing opportunities and emerging dilemmas). In this case study, ongoing globalisation was produced and reproduced as an unintended consequence of a social actor's purposeful, localised activity.