Bindu Madhok and Selva Raj

Madhok, B., & Raj, S. J. (2011). Globalization, higher education, and women in urban India: a development ethics approach. Journal of Third World Studies, 28(1), 141+.

Introduction: The academic discourse on globalization in developing countries like India frequently focuses on the economic and political effects of globalization, ignoring the shifts and changes it has produced in the underlying values and perspectives of the people affected. Recently, scholars in the field of development ethics have drawn attention to the need to balance such empirical inquiries with a more normative approach: thus, globalization when studied within the ethical framework of development has given rise to general normative questions such as, “What should be meant by development?,” “In what directions and by what means should a society develop?,” “Who is morally responsible for beneficial change?,” and “How should globalization’s impact and potential be assessed ethically?” (1) Such a normative enterprise is not intended to be conducted in an empirical vacuum–instead, development ethicists recognize the irreplaceable value that comes from any normative account being grounded in empirical realities, in the absence of which it would, at best, be lacking in prescriptive power in specific contexts. Based on recent fieldwork in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), India, our interdisciplinary paper explores the specific challenges encountered by young, educated urban women in the wake of globalization and how they negotiate traditional norms and expectations as they seek to redefine their private and public spheres in their quest for fulfillment. We use this empirical backdrop then to ask and answer specific normative questions about the ethical impact of globalization in the context specified above. We believe that such a praxis-based approach will result in a thick moral discourse on globalization as opposed to a thin one which fails sufficiently to incorporate relevant contextual details necessary for a more complete textured understanding of such a complex phenomenon as globalization.

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