Defining Globalization and the Importance of Global Studies
In this essay I wish to address the connection of globalization to normative issues. Before doing so, I need to review the issue of defining globalization and to indicate the emergence of Global Studies as central to the understanding of globalization.
The terms ‘globalization’ and ‘anti-globalization’ are used in such a variety of ways that an effort at understanding and assessing these processes is difficult (Gay 2008a, 2008b). Consider the various ways these terms are used. Some who call themselves globalists and some who call themselves anti-globalists view environmentalism and democracy positively. At the same time, some who call themselves globalists and some who call themselves anti-globalists view capitalism and militarism negatively. Furthermore, some globalists and some anti-globalists view globalism as continuous with modernity, while other globalists and anti-globalists regard it as breaking from modernity.
Historically, discussion of issues related to globalism has been explicit for about fifty years. Since the 1960s concepts of ecology, ecological crises, global problems of modernity, globalization, anti-globalization, and so forth have been widely used in scientific and political discourse. These discussions make clear that globalism concerns far more than merely how capitalism has impacted the entire planet economically. Globalism is also closely connected to concerns about the environment and human rights.
Four basic positions have emerged in relation to globalization. First, some supporters of globalism present it as being or as capable of being humane. Second, some critics of globalism, whether they call themselves anti-globalists, favor a grassroots process working from below rather than the elitist globalism that has been imposed from above. Third, many scholars, regardless of whether they support globalism, concede that the future of globalism is indeterminate. Fourth, some scholars, regardless of whether they support globalism, advocate a disciplinary approach for understanding and assessing globalism.
Both globalism and anti-globalism need to be distinguished from the more recent term ‘alter-globalization’. Alter-globalization or alternative globalization (or alter-mondialization from the French alter-mondialisme – sometimes translated into English as alter-mondialism or alter-mondialization) refers to the position that affirms global cooperation and interaction but opposes the negative consequences of economic globalization. Alter-globalization views economic globalization as insufficiently oriented to such human values connected with the environment, economic justice, and protection of human rights and the rights of labor and indigenous cultures. Since they support involvement on a global scale, alter-globalists typically do not like to be labeled as ‘anti-globalists’. Their opposition is not to economic globalization in general; instead, they are opposed in particular to the type of neo-liberal globalization that favors the developing world at the expense of the less developed world. In this regard, they often are opposed to the position of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The origin of the alter-globalization movement is often linked to the protest in 1999 to the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Seattle, Washington (USA). The aim is to protect those afflicted by the selfish acts of global corporations. They oppose the exploitation of labor and the outsourcing of jobs to foreign nations. They have an online link at The Independent Media Center (see:...