What is meant by Globalisation

Authors Avatar

What is meant by Globalisation


Since its invention and inception into the global forum, globalisation has been a subject of a more and much spirited debate; neither its advocates nor its critics seem to have a grasp on its handles let alone on its advantages and meaning. The meaning of the word globalisation has been explored by many scholars, leading to a strong controversy whose agreement is always difficulty to come by, an intellectual scandal almost. Despite the existence of divergent views and typologies on the term globalisation by authors, there is a broad agreement that although globalisation may be a contested concept, there is no dissent from the view that we live in a period of globalisation.

Definition of Globalisation

In his definition of Globalisation, Prof. Anthony Giddens (1999) says that "Globalisation link distant localities in such a way that local happening’s are shaped by distant events" and vice versa. Prof. Giddens goes on to state that we would have to create new institutions or modify the existing ones for the new global age. "We live in a world of transformations, affecting almost everything we do. For better or worse, we are being propelled into a global order that no one fully understands. The ungainly word globalisation was rarely used up until the late eighties, and now it has come from nowhere to be almost everywhere" (Giddens, 1999). He goes on to state that advances in information and communication technologies are the main force behind globalisation. This according to him is because it allows information to flow more effectively, which in turn helps in building of a global perspective. For economists, globalisation is the process of moving towards a world in which production, distribution, sales, finance, and investment are done without regard to national boundaries. It has usually a quantitative expression and is related with business and wealth expansion.

For political scientists, this definition has a broader, more complex nature, and competing definitions abound in theory books. They can be divided into two major groups: (1) the group of the proponents that globalisation is simply a new bottle for old wine: they state that global exchanges and contacts are an old phenomenon and many defend that it is not correct to refer to "a globalisation" but to "globalisations", since "no single process (of this dimension) can be labelled globalisation at the risk of severe oversimplification, serious misunderstanding, or both" (Guidry & all: 340). (2) the group of those who recognise the existence of a new phenomenon, in dimension and in nature (Giddens, Robertson, etc). "We are at the beginning of a fundamental shake-out of world society, which comes from numerous sources" (Giddens, 1998). The contradictory tendencies of this new process of change are described by way of an aphorism borrowed from Leon Tolstoy: "Globalisation is then the "universalisation of the particular and the particularisation of the universal". The presence of the 'isation' suffix emphasises that the local and the global are in dynamic interaction with one another. Scholte adds that globalisation involves "the growth of 'supraterritorial relations' among people" (2000:46) and for Tomlinson, it is a process of "complex connectivity", i.e., a set of "multivalent connections that now bind our practices, our experiences and our political, economic and environmental fates together across the modern world" (1999:2). Associated with this change in the character of social relationships for both authors is the notion of "deterritorialisation". This concept refers to the decrease of the relative importance of physical location as a basis for building social relationships as trans and supraterritorial ties grow in significance. In this respect, 'globalisation' is bringing far-reaching changes to the nature of the social dimension. In a recent book entitled Global Transformations, Held and associates suggest the following characterisation: It is an historically unprecedented process with regard to four spatio-temporal dimensions: the extensiveness of global networks, the intensity of global interconnectedness, the velocity of global flows, and the impact propensity of global interconnectedness (Held, et al. 1999:17). Globalisation may be thought of initially as the widening, deepening and speeding up of worldwide interconnectedness in all aspects of contemporary social life, from the cultural to the criminal, the financial to the spiritual. (Held et al. 1999, 2). Held and associates provide a more precise definition of globalisation as: A process (or set of processes) which embodies a transformation in the spatial organisation of social relations and transactions–assessed in terms of their extensity, intensity, velocity and impact–generating transcontinental or interregional flows and networks of activity, interaction, and the exercise of power. (Held et al. 1999, 16) As noted by Sinclair (2001), this "massive shakeout" induced by globalisation (Giddens 1996) creates moral dilemmas in the form of great opportunities for, as well as challenges to, human progress. The Human Development Report (United Nations 1999:2), , but not necessarily of equity.... When the market goes too far in dominating social and political outcomes, the opportunities and rewards of suggests one such moral dilemma: "... competitive markets may be the best guarantee of efficiency globalisation spread unequally and inequitably--concentration of power and wealth in a select group of people, nations and corporations, marginalising the others".   Levels of analysis   McMichael (1994) has analyzed rural and agrarian restructuring along three dimensions: state level, sectoral level, and global level. He views the process of globalisation as a movement from economic development being organised at the state or national level toward being organised at an increasingly global level.  Held and associates suggest that approaches to globalisation can be roughly divided into three broad categories:

Join now!
  • hyperglobalisers,
  • sceptics and
  • transformationalists.

Hyperglobalisers believe that globalisation represents a new epoch in human history, in which all types of relationships are becoming integrated at the global level, transcending the nation-state and making it increasingly irrelevant. Ever-increasing cross-border flows of capital, commodities, people and ideas are a defining factor of the new age. Hyperglobalisers include both those who view such trends as positive and those with more negative assessments.

The positive hyperglobalisers are mainly neo-liberal advocates of open, global markets, who believe that these will guarantee optimal economic growth and will, in the long run, bring about improved ...

This is a preview of the whole essay