Is globalisation a new phenomenon in world politics?

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Is globalisation a new phenomenon in world politics?


In the many academic papers and books published on the subject, globalisation has been given numerous and varying definitions. In spite of these variations, globalisation is commonly agreed to be political, social and economic in its effects:

 “In political life, globalization takes a distinct form, though the general trends towards deterrorialization, interconnectedness across borders, and the acceleration of social activity are fundamental here as well”( Scheuerman, 2002)

The Progressive Living Glossary defines it as being both a cultural and political concept, seeing it as a ‘trend towards a single world society’, a process which ‘trends toward the undermining of national sovereignty…in favor of the economic interests of gigantic transnational corporations.’().  Alternatively, Anthony Giddens, a leading sociologist, defines globalisation as ‘a decoupling of space and time’ and states that culture and knowledge can be instantaneously shared throughout the world using communications systems such as the Internet. ().

For the purposes of this essay, I will be utilising the definition that I feel best fits the concept of globalisation, that of Baylis and Smith, who state it as ‘the process of increasing interconnectedness between societies such that events in one part of the world more and more have effects on peoples and societies far away’ (2001, p7). Although the word globalisation itself is a relatively new one, the concept as particularly seen through this last definition can be traced back centuries, even to ancient times.

In this essay I intend to show that globalisation is not a new phenomenon and that although there seems to be no commonly agreed point of origin, its roots can be traced back through world history.  Additionally, there seems to be an inextricable link between the development of globalisation and the growth of capitalism.  However, the advent of instantaneous global telecommunication systems and increased access to all parts of the globe have effectively allowed the process to advance a greater rate in more recent years.

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The Roman Empire, which encompassed most of the known world, showed clear evidence of sophisticated levels of interconnectedness.   Economically, it had its own commercial trading network which stretched hundreds of miles and a common currency similar to that of the modern European Union.  On a social level, their culture strongly permeated their conquered nationalities, the legacies of which can still be seen today.  Effective communication systems enabled political decisions, originating in Rome, to be carried out across the length and breadth of the empire.

The first circumnavigation of the earth in 1519 to 1521 can be ...

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