New book by UBC Okanagan sociologist examines Canada’s place in global economy

Is Canada a victim or victor in the emerging global economy? Viewing the issues from a Canadian perspective, author and researcher Peter Urmetzer, an Associate Professor of Sociology at UBC Okanagan, hopes to throw a little cold water over both sides in this growing, often heated debate.

Western governments trumpet the virtues of globalization, Urmetzer says, while activists and citizens in parts of the developing world denounce it.

In Globalization Unplugged, published this month by University of Toronto Press, Urmetzer questions whether national economies are losing their sovereignty, as globalization opponents have argued, and whether globalization merits as much discussion as it receives.

“Both sides would agree that globalization is a recent development that is changing the way people and nations do business,” says Urmetzer. “My goal with this book is to challenge the misconceptions about what globalization means for Canadians and people in other parts of the world. I expect the book to spark some controversy in that I take on both advocates and detractors of globalization.”

Canada enjoys robust international trade, however, current trade levels are not unprecedented. “Furthermore,” Urmetzer says, “most of that trade is with the United States, while trade with the rest of the world is no higher now than it was in the 19th century.”

Urmetzer points out other common misconceptions – such as unbridled foreign ownership of Canada’s assets. “Only a relatively small percentage of Canada’s wealth is owned by foreign investors,” Urmetzer notes. “Likewise, only a small portion of the country’s wealth is located outside of our borders.”

Globalization Unplugged is an extremely important book, not least because the discourse of globalization is so ubiquitous,” says Colin Mooers, Chair and Professor of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University. “It is a much-needed challenge and corrective to the dominant ‘globalization of everything’ thesis. This is where the real power of Urmetzer’s book lies.”

Urmetzer, who has a PhD in sociology from UBC, is also the author of From Free Trade to Forced Trade, published in 2003 by Penguin Group (Canada). He lives in Vernon, B.C.

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