280 Reading: Introduction to Globalization

Conceptualizing Globalization

Globalization is the process by which the world, previously isolated through physical and technological distance, becomes increasingly interconnected. It is manifested by the increase in interaction between peoples around the world that involves the sharing of ideas, cultures, goods, services and investment.

The last sixty years have witnessed a huge increase in globalization, but the phenomenon has been going on for much longer. Thomas Friedman describes the current trend as the third great wave of globalization in human history.

Globalization has brought fear of loss of jobs and loss of income, which are often described as the “race to the bottom,” as industrialized countries are thought to have to reduce wages to be competitive with those in the developing world. Globalization has also spawned fears about loss of culture. Many countries worry about their cultures being overwhelmed by that of the United States. France is a good example. Others fear replacement of their cultures by that of Western nations (e.g., some Islamic states). Countries also fear the loss of national sovereignty as they become part of supranational entitles, like the European Union or the International Monetary Fund. And yet, history shows that globalization has corresponded to higher national incomes and increased opportunities. How can these conflicting views be reconciled?


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