Global Policy Forum

Defining Globalization



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Human societies across the globe have established progressively closer contacts over many centuries, but recently the pace has dramatically increased. Jet airplanes, cheap telephone service, email, computers, huge oceangoing vessels, instant capital flows, all these have made the world more interdependent than ever. Multinational corporations manufacture products in many countries and sell to consumers around the world. Money, technology and raw materials move ever more swiftly across national borders. Along with products and finances, ideas and cultures circulate more freely. As a result, laws, economies, and social movements are forming at the international level. Many politicians, academics, and journalists treat these trends as both inevitable and (on the whole) welcome. But for billions of the world's people, business-driven globalization means uprooting old ways of life and threatening livelihoods and cultures. The global social justice movement, itself a product of globalization, proposes an alternative path, more responsive to public needs. Intense political disputes will continue over globalization's meaning and its future direction.

Articles and Documents


Key Documents

Lamy Underlines Need For "Unity in Our Global Diversity" (June 14, 2011)

Director-General of the WTO Pascal Lamy discusses globalization’s “fragile dominance” over our era, and argues that deglobalization should not and will not happen. However, governance of globalization must be improved. Utilizing the lessons of history and accounting for globalization’s new “system frictions” (such as resource scarcity), countries can develop practices and policies for an interdependent world.  Lamy emphasizes that globalization lessens states’ control and that the benefits of globalization can be harnessed when states act as a coherent whole. Lamy’s discussion fails to recognize the structural differences for developing and developed countries in a globalized world. (WTO)

Inescapably Side by Side - An Interview with David Held (February 2004)

David Held, a leading political scientist, addresses the concept of globalization and stresses the need for a "cosmopolitan democracy" in an age of interconnectedness. Further, Held comments on how evolving supra-national, political and economic projects challenge state sovereignty. (Polity)

Runaway World - Reith Lectures Revisited (November 10, 1999)

Anthony Giddens, the leading British social theorist, believes the future is not fixed, and that globalization enhances both our opportunities and responsibilities.

The Threat of Globalization (Winter 1999)

Edward S. Herman's analysis of the ideology of globalization and its failures.(New Politics)

Progressive Globalism: Challenging the Audacity of Capital (February 1, 1999)

William K. Tabb examnies critically the globalization of economy and its meaning for working people.

Statement on Globalization (May 11, 1998)

A statement adopted by the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights headed by Philip Alston. The statement looks critically at globalization as a "phenomenon which has wrought fundamental changes within every society."



Europe's Century (June 17, 2008)

The article defines globalization as the "regionalization of international relations" and argues that the EU stands as a model of co-operation for other regional groupings such as the African Union (AU), ASEAN and Unasur. The AU has established a regional peacekeeping force, criminal court and common army to eliminate rivalries among its members. The author argues that such initiatives also diminish the role of the US as a global superpower. (Guardian)



The Three Rounds of Globalization (October 19, 2006)

Identifying "three rounds of globalization" this Globalist article argues that "globalization is not a new thing." The exchange of ideas between ancient civilizations - the first round - fueled the rise of the West with industrial revolution and imperialism - the second round. Likewise, the transfer of Western ideas feeds the present rise of India and China - the third round. By these dynamics, the world is returning towards global equity, where India and China have a share of world income roughly similar to their share of people -as in the early 19th century. While appreciating this return to international equity as a "moral imperative" the author fails to consider to what extent the economic development of these Asian countries takes place at the expense of domestic equity and the environment.

Political Struggles Will Determine Better Globalisation (March 15, 2006)

Based on the article The Sources of Neoliberal Globalization by Jan Aart Scholte, this South Centre publication offers a historical-sociological background on the neoliberal influence on globalization. It looks at four interrelated forces that have generated and sustained neoliberalism since the late 70s, namely governance, production, knowledge and social networks. Focusing on the exclusive nature of social networks supportive of neoliberalism, the article calls for a broader advocacy of alternative ways to shape globalization.



Mobilizing Political Will (June 29, 2005)

Arguing that the structures of global governance are "out of sync" with globalization, this report from Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy calls for new "multi-stakeholder efforts between governments, business and civil society." The group proposes reforming the World Trade Organization, establishing a new agreement on greenhouse gas emissions, and supports creating a UN Human Rights Council and a World Environmental Organization.

The Polarised World of Globalisation (May 10, 2005)

In his book "The World Is Flat," Thomas Friedman sees globalization as a phenomenon that will eliminate inequality in our societies. But, according the author of this article, Friedman fails to recognize that corporations and powerful institutions are steering globalization, building "walls" of property and class all over the world. From this alternate viewpoint, Friedman's "flatness" appears as "a symptom of the absence of real freedom." (Navdanya)

Globalization Is Not Made in the West (April 13, 2005)

This YaleGlobal article provides a long-term view on globalization from the Middle Ages to the present. From a historical perspective, globalization is much more about the "changed environments people create and manipulate as their societies globally interconnect" than "about rampant capitalism, technology, or homogenization," the author argues.



The Miracles of Globalization - A Review of Why Globalization Works (September/October 2004)

This review, published in Foreign Affairs, praises the book Why Globalization Works as a "patient and persuasive refutation of many of the arguments most frequently marshaled by critics of trade liberalization." In the euphoric celebration of the book's arguments, the review fails to analyze one logical and fundamental point - for whom does globalization really work?

Globalization on Trial (June 27, 2004)

This review of Naomi Klein's book Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate, defines globalization as a set of "fences," both literal and ideological, that separate and contort the globalizing world, thereby worsening an array of international problems. However, in each of these fences, she sees "windows," or individuals with a "natural resistance to enclosure," who challenge globalization's current form. (The Tribune (India))

The Collapse of Globalism: and the Rebirth of Nationalism (March 2004)

No grand economic theory lasts forever. According to this article, "Globalism," the ideology of globalization, is now also on the brink of demise. The author examines the history of "Globalism," from its birth in 1970s, through its triumph with the creation of the World Trade Organization, to its "humiliation" at the Dayton Peace Accords. The author argues that nationalism, in both positive and negative forms, is overtaking the declining Globalism. (Harper's Magazine)

A Fair Globalization: Creating Opportunities for All (February 24, 2004)

"Is it possible to make the globalization process fairer?" asks the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, an ILO initiative created in 2002. By answering "Yes", the report concludes that the main obstacle is not globalization as such, but the great deficiencies in its governance. (World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization)

Head to Head: Social vs Economic Forum (January 16, 2004)

As the two forums debating global development open, former WTO advisor Philippe Legrain, and South African anti-privatization activist Trevor Ngwane argue for and against globalization. (BBC)



Beyond Globophobia (November 13, 2003)

"Globalization" only recently entered daily speech, causing many people to forget that national borders have lost some of their importance since the very beginning of capitalism. Doug Henwood recalls that rich countries could never have raised their living standards to today's level without the help of their colonies. (The Nation)

Teaching Globalization (August 28, 2003)

Globalization is one of the leading issues of the day, but how should we teach it to students? One educator shares his approach. (Globalist)

International Security in the Era of Globalization (March 4, 2003)

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov describes the contradictory and "ever more integral" effects of globalization on international security. Along with heightened political and economic integration, the spread of information technology allows authorities to respond more effectively to security threats. Conversely, economic globalization produces widespread inequality, slows social development and increases international tensions. (The Telegraph(Kathmandu))


Are there Alternatives? (February 20, 2003)

In the fifth essay in a five-part series, Tom Nairn argues that democratic nationalism offers one of the main alternatives to neo-liberal globalization. He posits that "natural seats of resistance", countries like Brazil, China and India, could provide the basis for alternative models that shape a more equitable world. (Open Democracy)

Finnish President's Speech on the Social Dimension of Globalization (February 6, 2003)

Finnish President Halonen delivers a stirring speech about the 'deglobalization' occurring in Africa. She discusses the role of trade, nation states, international organizations and civil society in creating a more equitable, just and humane globalization.

The Way Ahead (September 9, 2003)

In this excerpt from "Globalization and Its Discontents," Joseph Stiglitz argues that globalization has worsened the conditions of millions of people. To make globalization work for all, international institutions must, in a transparent way, be more responsive to the poor, to the environment and to broader political and social concerns. (TomPaine)


Political, cultural and especially economic globalization reached unprecedented levels during the 1990s. The global economic downturn and the war on terror together resulted in a much decreased rate of economic globalization. (Daily Star)



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