Understanding Globalization: A Complex and Controversial Term

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Globalisation is a complex elusive and controversial term. It has been used to refer to a process, a policy, a marketing strategy, a predicament or even an ideology. Some have tried to bring greater clarity to the debate of the nature of globalisation by distinguishing between globalisation as a process and globality as a condition indicating the set of circumstances that globalization has bought about, just as modernization has created a condition of modernity (Steger 2003). Others have used the term globalism to refer to the ideology of globalisation, the theories, values and assumptions that have guided or driven the process (Ralston Saul 2005). The problem with globalisation is that it is not so much an ‘it’ as a ‘them’: it is not a single process but a complex processes, sometimes overlapping and interlocking but also, at times, contradictory and oppositional. It is therefore difficult to reduce globalisation to a single theme. Nevertheless, the various development and manifestations that are associated with globalisation, or indeed globality, can be traced back to the underlying phenomenon of interconnectedness. Globalisation, regardless of its forms or impact, forges connections between previously unconnected people, communities, institutions and societies. While some see globalisation as the critical driving force behind the social, political and economic changes which are currently reshaping today’s society, they still believe that the nation-state will play a significant role. It is important to try not to look at this globalisation debate as being black or white. We cannot think of the world as being entirely globalized or internationalized but rather contain aspects of both under different circumstances.
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