|As a concept this emerged around 1960 when the Canadian media scholar Marshall McLuhan coined the term global village to capture the impact of new communications technologies on social and cultural life. time-space compression, it is argued, has so transformed the structure and scale of human relationships that social, cultural, political, and economic processes now operate at a global scale with a consequent reduction in the significance of other geographical scales (national, local, etc.). We live, it is asserted, in a world in which nation-states are no longer significant actors or meaningful economic units; in which consumer tastes and cultures are homogenized and satisfied through the provision of standardized global products created by global corporations with no allegiance to place or community. Within the sphere of the political economy, writers such as Kenichi Ohmae (1990) speak of a borderless world in which the nation-state has become rendered impotent by institutions (including the multinational corporation) which, allegedly, operate globally and without any real connections to place.
The global is, thus, claimed to be the natural order of affairs in today\'s technologically driven world in which time-space has been compressed, the \'end of geography\' has arrived and everywhere is becoming the same (cf. placelessness). The view of globalization as an inexorable, and virtually unstoppable, force which can only be accommodated, rather than resisted, has become the conventional wisdom in neo-liberal political and business circles and employed as a rhetoric to justify particular kinds of decisions. In fact, globalization consists of a number of distinct, but overlapping, discourses in which its meaning is highly contested (Waters, 1995, provides a readable general survey).
Although the notion of a globalized world has become pervasive in recent years, there are strong opponents who argue, in effect, that globalization is a mirage or, at the very least, nothing new (see, for example, Hirst and Thompson, 1996). There was, indeed, a substantial debate at the end of the nineteenth century â€” what might be seen as the \'first globalization debate\' â€” which was concerned with the transformation of economic life by the expansionary forces of capitalism as expressed in the economic theory of imperialism developed by Lenin and inspired by the work of J.A. Hobson. So, on the one hand, we have the view that we do, indeed, live in a new â€” globalized â€” world economy in which our lives are dominated by global forces. On the other hand, we have the view that not all that much has changed; that we still inhabit an international, rather than a globalized, world-economy in which national forces remain highly significant (cf. world-systems analysis).
In fact, neither of these extreme positions can be justified. Although in quantitative terms the world was perhaps at least as open economically before 1913 as it is today â€” in some respects, even more so (see Kozul-Wright, 1995) â€” the nature of the integration was qualitatively very different. To argue that the pre-First World War world economy was, in fact, more globalized than now is to conflate what are, in fact, two distinct processes. Internationalization involves the simple extension of economic activities across national boundaries. It is, essentially, a quantitative process which leads to a more extensive geographical pattern of economic activity. Globalization processes are qualitatively different from internationalization processes. They involve not merely the geographical extension of economic activity across national boundaries but also â€” and more importantly â€” the functional integration of such internationally dispersed activities.
The pre-1914 world economy was an increasingly internationalizing economy, but the nature of economic integration was essentially \'shallow\', based primarily on arm\'s length trade in goods and services and on flows of portfolio capital. Today\'s world economy is characterized both by such internationalizing processes and also by a \'deeper\' degree of integration based upon interconnected configurations of production orchestrated primarily by transnational corporations. Hence, both processes â€” internationalization and globalization â€” co-exist. In some cases, what we are seeing is no more than the continuation of long-established international dispersion of activities. In others, however, we are undoubtedly seeing an increasing dispersion and integration of activities across national boundaries. The pervasive internationalization, and growing globalization, of economic life ensure that changes originating in one part of the world are rapidly diffused to others.
McGrew (1992, p. 23) captures the complexity of the current position in a concise and balanced way. He defines globalization as:
the multiplicity of linkages and interconnections between the states and societies which make up the modern world system. It describes the process by which events, decisions, and activities in one part of the world can come to have significant consequences for individuals and communities in quite distant parts of the globe. Globalization has two distinct dimensions: scope (or stretching) and intensity (or deepening). On the one hand it defines a set of processes which embrace most of the globe or which operate worldwide; the concept therefore has a spatial connotation. Politics and other social activities are becoming stretched across the globe. On the other hand it also implies an intensification in the levels of interaction, interconnectedness or interdependence between the states and societies which constitute the world community. Accordingly, alongside the stretching goes a deepening of global processes.It must be emphasized, however, that change does not occur everywhere in the same way and at the same rate; the processes of globalization are not geographically uniform. The particular character of individual countries, of regions (see regionalism) and of localities interacts with the larger-scale general processes of change to produce quite specific outcomes. localization remains a significant phenomenon. Although there are undoubtedly globalizing forces at work we do not have a fully globalized world. Globalization tendencies can be at work without this resulting in an all-encompassing end-state in which all unevenness and differences are ironed out, market forces are rampant and uncontrollable, and the nation-state merely passive and supine. Hence, globalization should be conceptualized as a complex of interrelated processes, rather than an end-state. Such tendencies are highly uneven in time and space.Â (PD)
Suggested Reading Dicken, P. 1998: Global shift: the transformation of the world economy, 3rd edn. London: Sage; New York: Guilford.Â Dicken, P. Peck, J.A. and Tickell, A. 1997: Unpacking the global. In R. Lee, and J. Wills, eds, Geographies of economies. London: Arnold, 158-66.Â Featherstone, M., ed., 1990: Global culture. London: Sage.Â Hirst, P. and Thompson, G. 1996: Globalization in question. Cambridge: Polity Press.Â Kozul-Wright, R. 1995: Transnational corporations and the nation state. In J. Michie, and J. Grieve Smith, eds, Managing the global economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 135-71.Â McGrew, A.G. 1992: Conceptualizing global politics. In A.G. McGrew, and P.G. Lewis, eds, Global politics: globalization and the nation-state. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1-28.Â Ohmae, K. 1990: The borderless world: power and strategy in the interlinked economy. New York: The Free Press.Â Waters, M. 1995: Globalization. London: Routledge.