… a core concept in Global Context and Atlas105

Concept description

Oxford Dictionary defines globalization as the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale.

See also Deglobalization.

Leslie Pal (reference below, p. 44) notes that:

“The modern phenomenon of globalization has to be carefully distinguished from the mere fact of international connectedness. The British empire was global in scope, and other imperial systems like the Romans’ covered enormous tracts of territory. The Moors extended their empire as far as Spain, and the Portuguese, in turn, established outposts as far away as Goa, India. Marco Polo travelled from the Mediterranean to China in the late 1200s. The city states of medieval Europe had extensive trade connections of their own to the Orient, and vast, complex, and virtually global systems of trade developed by the 1700s around raw materials, sugar, spices, and slaves (Brook, 2007). In short, human history in the last 1000 years has been clearly marked by internationalism that sometimes came close to embracing the entire planet.

Pal underlines that, in understanding globalization, it is important also to understand what it is not, and draws on Scholte’s analysis (Pal, p. 45-46):

Scholte (2003) identifies what he calls four cul-de-sacs in conceptualizing globalization: globalization-as-internationalization (“the growth of transactions and interdependence between countries”); globalization-as-liberalization (“a process of removing officially imposed restrictions on movements of resources between countries in order to form an ‘open’ and ‘borderless’ world economy”); globalization-as-universalization (“a process of dispersing various objects and experiences to people at all inhabited parts of the earth”); and globalization-as-westernization (“social structures of modernity [e.g., capitalism, industrialism, rationalism, urbanism] are spread the world over, destroying pre-existent cultures and local self-determination in the process”). Scholte sensibly argues that understanding globalization in these terms is redundant – the phenomena of internationalization, liberalization, universalization, and westernization have existed much longer than contemporary globalization, and simply redefining these phenomena as globalization does not add anything to our understanding. “Arguments that only build on these conceptions fail to open insights that are not available through pre-existent vocabulary. Deployed on any of these four lines, ‘globalization’ provides no distinct analytical value-added” (Scholte, 2005, p. 54). Contemporary globalization, for Scholte, is characterized by globality, or the sense that the entire planet is a single social space, that people carry on conversations and movements within that space irrespective of territoriality, that they pay collective attention to “global events”—that there is a quality of simultaneity. Information and communications technologies, as well as modern transport (air travel and containers), are a crucial foundation for globality. Transportation systems make global supply chains possible, while digital communications means that billions of people on the planet can simultaneously listen to the same song or watch reports on a natural disaster.”

Atlas topic, subject, and course

The Study of International Relations, Forces, and Institutions (core topic) in Global Context and Atlas105.


Oxford Dictionary, globalization, at, accessed 27 March 2017.

Leslie Pal (2014), Beyond Policy Analysis – Public Issue Management in Turbulent Times, Fifth Edition, Nelson Education, Toronto. See Beyond Policy Analysis – Book Highlights.

Scholte, J. A. (2003). What is globalization: The definitional issue – again, (Working Paper Series). Hamilton, ON: Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition, McMaster University.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 10 March 2019.

Image: Emaze, Globalization for Dummies, at, accessed 29 March 2015.