Discontinuous change, fuelled by globalization and the communication technologies that support it, is
affecting countries worldwide. The world is changing rapidly and Australia's responses to globalising
forces are having a profound economic, social and political impact, resulting in far reaching implications for individuals, communities and government. In Australia, national developments increasingly take place as part of a global process- the recent example of the role taken by Australian defence forces in Iraq and the relationships this role prescribed to other countries, whether ideologically for or against, demonstrates a new era of inter-connectedness in the world, and the
identification of issues of global significance. Increasingly, countries such as Australia are called to
operate less as individual states geographically and ideologically, and are required to function globally. Rossi (2002, p.l13) goes further, indicating that some would argue that the end of the Nation-State as we know it is imminent and 'that whilst the names of countries like Australia or Japan will continue to exist as descriptors or labels of geographical locations, they will not be
meaningful as locations where things are done differently to anywhere else, particularly in what is loosely described as the 'civilised' world'.
The theoretical basis of these ideas developed from Marshal McLuhan's (1967) idea of the 'global
village': a world connected via communication networks, and presented by the inter-connectedness individuals and communities have with each other to increasingly global events, cultural practices and issues. In the global village geographically external issues become as significant and immediate as those occurring locally, so that 'the whole world can watch the Olympic Games, the World Cup, the fall of a dictator, a political summit, a deadly tragedy' (Harvey 2000, p84). It is 'an MTV world'
(Robins 2000, p195), where the image presented globally via mass media outlets and the internet simultaneously invites and arbitrates our vision and subsequent knowledge of the world. Due primarily to these communication networks, shifting populations and the nature of modern financial and economic systems, the world is connected more than at any other stage m history, leading simultaneously to the construction of what has been seen as a tendency towards an inter-connected global culture, one that has an homogenizing effect on cultural diversity and difference.
From this perspective it is argued that the world can no longer be understood from within the industrial paradigm bought about by the industrial revolution- a system based on market economics and the ability for individuals, communities and states to produce goods- but needs to be viewed from a knowledge perspective (Sveiby, 1999). Huge technological advances and the progressive opening
up of markets (Charles, 1999) have led to the emergence of a global knowledge-based economy.
The new economy will be as different from what preceded it, as was the industrial era from feudalism, and it is already beginning to have a comparable impact on social relationships and institutions. (Sheehan, 1999,pl)
National economies are experiencing deep structural change, across all sectors, with significant social
implications (Sheehan, 1999; McKeon, 2000). New work patterns are emerging, with increasing value
being placed on knowledge work. But communication technologies facilitating t~ rapid movement of
information and new hegemonies also bring the threat of a homogenizing blanket, to be thrown over spaces of difference in order to smother the idiosyncratic in the pursuit of a global culture. This significant social process has been referred to variously as the 'McDonaldisation' (Ritzer, 2000), 'Disneyization' (Bryfuan 2002) or 'Coca-colonisation' of the world. These events are made all the more dramatic by the scale and speed of the transition from the industrial age to the knowledge age (Capra, 1982).