Definitions of Globalization

In this section, we have provided multiple definitions of globalization since it is a widely defined word with several connotations to many different people.  With this comprehensive outlook on globalization, we encourage our readers to shape their own opinions on this pressing concept in the modern world.

The most general and encompassing definition of globalization, presented to the students during the beginning of the course, is:

“Globalization is a complex web of social processes that intensify and expand worldwide economic, cultural, political, and technological exchanges and connections.” – Dr. Cairo

Globalization is an interconnected web of social, economic, political, cultural, and technological processes.  However, this definition is extremely broad, and the number of connotations and views on globalization is nearly endless.  Globalization can also be thought of as a flow of people, capital, goods, and ideas.  By examining each of these aspects and angles of this encompassing concept, a more complete analysis can be made and similar traits of globalization will emerge.

WesternizationAs a flow of ideas, globalization can be viewed as a synonym for Westernization.  The ideals of democracy and equality which the United States were founded upon are spreading across the globe.  These values are beginning to be seen as favorable in comparison to other forms of rule in other parts of the world.  However, some groups, such as radical Islamists, are “potent ideological challengers to market globalism” (Steger 145) who see Westernization as global and national factors which undermine their faith and society.  Thus, they fight against the potential threat of homogenization of their culture.

Globalization is a flow of people because of migration.  While people have been migrating since the time of hunters and gatherers, travel has become increasingly easier because of technology.  Some move for work; others for safety; still others for a change of atmosphere and scenery.  However, the flow of people influences also a spread of ideas, goods, and even capital as well.

Globalization is also a flow of goods and thus capital.  Free trade has been one of the goals of organizations such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Tglobal-worldrade (or GATT).  With each of the definitions we have provided, all of these definitions agree upon two main details of globalization; that trade is being expanded in support of more free markets with less regulation, and that technologies and ideas are being more rapidly spread due to these new open markets.  However, Stanford and contemporary social theorists added the notion of globalization being a form of Westernization, and that Western ideals are being spread to the political and cultural life of other countries.  The IMF’s definition didn’t bring up Westernization as being a synonym for globalization, which should not come as a surprise because the IMF supports indebted countries in an effort to increase global free trade, so using a term like Westernization could undermine their efforts and reputation.

For more information, this video gives a brief overview on globalization and its economic, political, and cultural ramifications, concluding with the assertion that “globalization presents both new opportunities and new challenges.”

These are only a few of the many different definitions of globalization. It is impossible to precisely define just what globalization is, and the definitions of today can be different from the definitions of the future, as globalization changes as the world changes.


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