Globalization is a social change, an increase in connections among societies and their elements. The term is applied to many social, commercial and economic activities. Depending on the context it can mean closer contact between different parts of the world (globalization of the world), or increasing relations among members of an industry in different parts of the world (globalization of an industry). It shares a number of characteristics with internationalization and is used interchangeably, although some prefer to use globalization to emphasize the erosion of the nation or national boundaries.
Globalization has become identified with a number of trends, most of which have developed since World War II. These include greater international movement of commodities, money, information, and people; and the development of technology, organizations, legal systems, and infrastructures to allow this movement. More specifically, globalization refers to:
- An increase in international trade at a faster rate than the growth in the world economy
- Increase in international flow of capital including foreign direct investment
- Greater transborder data flow, using such technologies such as the Internet, Communication satellites and telephones
- Greater international cultural exchange, for example through the export of Hollywood and Bollywood movies
- Reduction in global cultural diversity through hybridization, Westernization, Americanization or Sinosization of cultures
- Erosion of national sovereignty and national borders through international agreements leading to organizations like the WTO
- Greater international travel and tourism
- Greater immigration, including illegal immigration
- Development of global telecommunications infrastructure
- Development of a global financial systems
- Increase in the share of the world economy controlled by multinational corporations
- Increased role of international organizations such as WTO, WIPO, IMF that deal with international transactions
- An increase in the number of standards applied globally; e.g. copyright laws
Many of these trends are seen as positive by supporters of various forms of globalization, and in many cases globalization has been actively promoted by governments and other institutions. For example, there are economic arguments supporting globalisation, such as the theory of comparative advantage
suggesting that free trade leads to a more efficient allocation of resources, with all those involved in the trade benefitting.
Barriers to international trade have been considerably lowered since World War II through international agreements such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade(GATT). Particular initiatives carried out as a result of GATT and the World Trade Organisation, for which GATT is the foundation, have included:
- Promotion of free trade
- Of goods: reduction or elimination of tariffs; construction of free trade zones with small or no tariffs
- Of capital: reduction or elimination of capital controls
- Reduction, elimination, or harmonization of subsidies for local businesses
- Intellectual Property Restrictions
- Harmonization of intellectual property laws across nations (generally speaking, with more restrictions)
- Supranational recognition of intellectual property restrictions (e.g. patents granted by China would be recognized in the US)
Various aspects of globalization are seen as harmful by anti-globalization, public-interest activists.
See also: Anti-globalization movement.
Globalization in question
There is much academic discussion about whether globalization is a real phenomenon or only a myth. Although the term is widespread, many authors argue that the characteristics of the phenomenon have already been seen at other moments in history. Also, many note that those features that make people believe we are in the process of globalization, including the increase in international trade and the greater role of multinational corporations, are not as deeply established as they may appear. Thus, many authors prefer the use of the term internationalization rather than globalization. To put it simply, the role of the state and the importance of nations are greater in internationalization, while globalization in its complete form eliminates nation states. So, these authors see that the frontiers of countries, in a broad sense, are far from being dissolved, and therefore this radical globalization process is not yet happening, and probably won't happen, considering that in world history, internationalization never turned into globalization.
- Hirst & Thompson, Globalization in question (1991), ISBN 0-7456-2164-3
- Philippe Legrain, Open World:/ The Truth About Globalization (2002) ISBN 034911644X - A largely pro-globalization book which responds to many of the complaints of the anti-globalization movement, written by a former Special Adviser to the World Trade Organisation Director-General.
- Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and its discontents (2002) A book largely sympathetic to the theory of globalization from the 2001 Economics Nobel Prize winner. However he is sharply critical of the global institutions, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank, regulating the process. ISBN 014101038X
- Naomi Klein No Logo (2001). A popular book which is very much against globalization. ISBN 0006530400