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Defination of Globalization

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Many authors have attempted, with relative success, to define globalization in a variety of ways. Some claim that it cannot be done, others claim that it would constrain the meaning to do so, and still others have defied these two beliefs and have constructed a working definition. Despite differing opinions about developing a definition, all authors agree on one thing: that defining this term is anything but easy. This paper will attempt to provide a comprehensive overview of the existing definitions of globalization and introduce our proposed definition:

"Globalization is a process that encompasses the causes, course, and consequences of transnational and transcultural integration of human and non-human activities."

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Dr. Nayef R.F. Al-Rodhan Definitions of Globalization:

Ambassador Gérard Stoudmann A Comprehensive Overview and a Proposed Definition


Globalization is not a single concept that can be defined and encompassed within a set time frame, nor is it a process that can be defined clearly with a beginning and an end. Furthermore, it cannot be expounded upon with certainty and be applicable to all people and in all situations. Globalization involves economic integration; the transfer of policies across borders; the transmission of knowledge; cultural stability; the reproduction, relations, and discourses of power; it is a global process, a concept, a revolution, and "an establishment of the global market free from sociopolitical control."1 Globalization encompasses all of these things. It is a concept that has been defined variously over the years, with some connotations referring to progress, development and stability, integration and cooperation, and others referring to regression, colonialism, and destabilization. Despite these challenges, this term brings with it a multitude of hidden agendas. An individual's political ideology, geographic location, social status, cultural background, and ethnic and religious affiliation provide the background that determines how globalization is interpreted. In 1995, Martin Khor, President of the Third World Network2 in Malaysia, referred to globalization as colonization. Concurrently, Swedish journalist Thomas Larsson, in his book The Race to the Top: The Real Story of Globalization (2001), stated that globalization:

"is the process of world shrinkage, of distances getting shorter, things moving closer. It pertains to the increasing ease with which somebody on one side of the world can interact, to mutual benefit, with somebody on the other side of the world."3

These two different interpretations reflect different perspectives rooted in different world positions.

By its nature, globalization spans a multitude of disciplines, communities, and cultures. This, of course, allows for a variety of viewpoints, be they economic, social, or political. The definitions presented here reflect some of those viewpoints. It is also vital that these definitions be presented against the reality of the global situation, as Vidya S. A. Kumar rightly points out in his article "A Critical Methodology of Globalization: Politics of the 21st Century?". It is, however, beyond the scope of this paper to assess the extent to which each of the statements captures reality. Rather, we look at issues surrounding the difficulties of defining globalization and discuss the benefits of doing so within the larger debate.

The impact of globalization is vast, as the definitions that we present here indicate. One question remains regarding the potential difficulty of trying to define this concept, as well as the limitations involved in trying to do so: does this hinder discussions about globalization? Does the fact that globalization requires constant defining inhibit or undermine true academic debate about the geopolitical implications of this process before that debate even begins?

All copyrights are reserved by the authors.


Dr. Nayef R.F. Al-Rodhan Definitions of Globalization:

Ambassador Gérard Stoudmann A Comprehensive Overview and a Proposed Definition

This paper does not propose a definition that will be useful and acceptable to everyone. Nor does it try to justify why one definition might be better than another. Rather, we suggest reviewing the definitions that are available in an attempt to truly understand this concept, and we also propose a definition that we think might be broad enough to address most aspects of the process.


This study provides a thorough overview of existing definitions of globalization, which we were able to use to develop our own definition. In reviewing current definitions, it is at once apparent that some are rather narrow and exclusive, while others are broad and inclusive. Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses: more-general definitions tend to be all-encompassing but more abstract, while more-specific definitions are better justified but narrower in scope. For example, Kenichi Ohmae stated in 1992 that "globalization means the onset of the borderless world."4 This definition does not have positive or negative connotations but is vague and inclusive. This definition could be used as a basis for a working paper on a number of subjects, including technology, trade agreements, and just about any other issue that deals with overcoming traditional boundaries. This definition is a bit too vague, however, for discussions on the detailed implications of globalization. Alternatively, a detailed definition would be suited to this type of discussion. Robert Cox provides a good example of this approach: "the characteristics of the globalization trend include the internationalizing of production, the new international division of labor, new migratory movements from South to North, the new competitive environment that accelerates these processes, and the internationalizing of the state... making states into agencies of the globalizing world."5 This definition is more detailed and contributes more to the discussion. Despite this benefit, this can also be limiting, as it may only be applicable to those that agree with this definition. As mentioned earlier, this can also stall the debate about the implications of this type of globalization because a discussion about negative and positive connotations could lend itself to a paper and subsequent discussion all on its own without delving into deeper ramifications.




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