Globalizations: definition and situation

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What is globalization?[edit | edit source]

Definitions and disciplinary issues[edit | edit source]

Should we talk about globalization or globalization? There is no difference, in French it is accepted that the two terms can be used interchangeably.

There is no consensus definition, it is an open debate. Within the debates on globalization, it is a particularly open debate because defining what globalization is is an issue. Globalisation is a difficult concept to study because we all have a certain perception of what it is.

Some common points[edit | edit source]

Globalisation has an impact on remote actions when the actions of social agents in one place have consequences on the other side of the planet. There is a compression of time and space. It is much easier to communicate, geographical and territorial barriers tend to decrease. On the other hand, there is an acceleration of interdependence with the increase in interconnection between national economies and societies.

When we talk about globalization, there is the idea of a shrinking world. With the erosion of human and geographical barriers to socio-economic activity, this gives the impression of a smaller world. Integration is global through a reordering of inter-regional power relations creating an awareness of a global condition and an intensification of interconnection between regions. This implies a homogenization that generates common visions and practices that would be imposed by the economic and political system according to a neoliberal vision.

A definition?[edit | edit source]

Globalisation can be known as a discourse, a process, an analytical grid or a common project. According to the studies, the emphasis will be on material, spatiotemporal or cognitive aspects.

These are very heterogeneous debates, they are approaches that represent disciplinary investments based on the merits of the readings. According to a conservative or socialist approach for which globalization is a threat to important values, the reading will be different. For example, a Marxist approach to globalization will assume that since the end of the Cold War, there has been a neoliberal agenda imposed by some international agents on the rest of the world. For realists, globalization would be imposed by a hegemon for its own interests by using military or other means of pressure. The realistic theory is dynamic because hegemons evolve over the course of history; thus, there would be no reason for globalization to be a phase.

In The Global Transformations Reader de Held et Macgrew publié en 2000[9], there is a coexistence of multiple conversations rather than a true dialogue. It's an extremely multidisciplinary thing. Wellerstein in The Modern World-System proposes the theory of the world system, others propose an approach by political economy or some like Kehohane and Nye in Transnational relations and world politics published in 1973 highlight a logic of complex interdependencies.

Skeptics vs. globalist[edit | edit source]

This type of distinction is only there to clarify an entry into the debate. For some, globalization is not a very original phenomenon, as it is for Hirst and Thompson in Globalization in question: the international economy and the possibilities of governance[10], we should be talking about internationalization. For them, globalization is really a myth that justifies and legitimizes the advent of a neo-liberal project, as it is for Hirst in From Statism to Pluralism[11] published in 1997 et Gordon dans The Global Economy: New Edifice or Crumbling Foundations[12] p

established in 1988, following the example of the Washington Consensus, deregulation, privatization, structural adjustment programs, etc.

Authors adopt a realistic ontology like Waltz in Theory of International Politics[13] and Gilpin in The Theory of Hegemonic War[14] challenging globalization as an analytical framework for understanding phenomena. Some adopt a Marxist ontology like Van der Pijl inTransnational Classes and International Relations[15], Negri and Hardt dans Empire[16] published in 2000.

For globalists like Held and McGrew in The Global Transformations Reader[17], globalization generates clear transformations of processes that make it possible to understand the world as opposed to international relations, which in general have as their main reference the State no longer sufficient to understand today's world. There are very present globalization logics that are part of a real phenomenon of structural change in the scale of social organization of the world. The State is no longer the main referent, they are round trips, complex joints. For globalists, globalization affects all other social areas.

Ri2 Sceptiques vs globaliste.png

Disciplinary issues: the case of international relations[edit | edit source]

Enjeux disciplinaires.png

It is a classification of disciplines according to their publication. International relations painfully rank seventh, ahead of economics, geography, sociology and even political science. On the other hand, it is not researchers in international relations who are debating the issue. International relations is not the discipline that has been most interested in globalization, unlike economics, sociology and political science.

In Globalization: An Analytical Framework, Walker highlights the dependence of international relations on the state, which cannot escape the double intellectual and territorial compartmentalization around the question of the state.

Time and globalization[edit | edit source]

Emergence of the term globalization[edit | edit source]

Friedman at the Miami Book Fair International, 1990

It is very interesting to begin by addressing the question of the origins of globalization by considering the itinerary of this notion, which must be distinguished from the processes we describe. Although the term globalization appears in Oxford's 1930s dictionary, it can also be found in The Economist in the 1950s and 1960s. It was really from the 1980s that the term exploded with a golden age in the 1990s. In the years 1980 - 1990, this is a novelty. Before being in a scientific debate, the debate on globalization comes from the political economy and will very quickly be grafted onto a political debate between neo-realism and alterglobalization, which embodies a counter-culture that claims to be part of globalization, but wants a different use. The term spreads from the financial and economic sphere to other social spheres. New York Time reporter Thomas Friedman popularized the term. Friedman published two books, one in 1900 The Lexus and the Olive tree[18] explaining his vision of globalization in today's world, and in 2005 The world is flat[19] which is an analysis of the major trends in globalization and the forces driving it.

Évolution terme globalisation.png

To illustrate that the term "globalization" came late, these two graphs show that the term "globalization" goes from an occurrence in the 1980s to a high use in the 2000s.

Dating[edit | edit source]

It is important to distinguish between the emergence of the notion and the fact that when people talk about "globalization". On dating, we are in the same logic. The question of "when" is particularly important, because for historians, the way globalization is presented suffers from anhistoricism. This limits the discourse on globalization because we do not know where to go from here.

For some authors, today, we have the culmination of a historical process that highlights different opinions. The three most common approaches are:

  • Theory of modernization in The consequences of modernity[20] of Giddens published in 1990. As early as the 17th century, we arrived at a standardization of time by trivializing watches, which made it possible to remove time from the individuals of time in its spatial design. What is important is individualization, because time compression makes it possible to conceive this phenomenon from individuation. Ulrich Beck spoke of a risk society in his 1986 book of the same name. In the individualized, interconnected and global society, issues are much more perceived in terms of risk.
  • Wallerstein's Theory of the World System: This theory is based on a three-volume book published between 1974 and 1989 entitledThe Modern World-System[21] as part of a Marxist approach. According to Wallerstein, the logic of globalization can be traced back to the 16th century with the introduction of the canons that are driving today's liberalization. From that time on, there was a structuring of the world into three regions: the centre[1], the periphery[2] and the semi-periphery[3]. According to Wallerstein, globalization is not an enthusiasm, but it is something that can be traced as a substitute for development. Beyond its positive conception, there is a criticism of development, particularly Marxist, saying that development is a project that allows the centre to continue to dominate the periphery. In a Marxist and long-term approach based on the long term of the French School of Annals founded by Lucien Febvre and Marx Bloch, we are in a project of development and domination of the central states on the periphery. These are the canons of Marxism, capital is only expanding and dominating the whole world.
  • The theory of space-time compression: Harvey is also a Marxist-oriented geographer who notes in his book The Condition of Postmodernity[22] published in 1989 an acceleration in the contraction of space-time where we are really in an expression of capitalism on a global scale.

We must see the current globalization in a long-term logic and in a logic of setting up a process that dates back several centuries.

For sceptics, globalization is just a Euristic term. There is nothing new, because the economic system already exists. For example, in the 19th century, there was a very significant migration, with 60 million European emigrants leaving. At the time, we were travelling without a passport. It is a historical critique of globalization seeking to highlight that we were perhaps in a much more globalized world in the 19th century. Historically, there have been a number of phenomena that have nothing to envy to the current globalization with diasporas, the Spring of Peoples in 1848, cosmopolitanism, the international system, particularly with the Congress of Vienna in 1815, or liberalism.

The mistreated State[edit | edit source]

When we talk about dating, the main issue is the question of the state. From the moment when globalization and its process must be dated, the question of the erosion of the State arises. There is a discourse on the temporality of globalization mainly centred around the disappearance of the nation state. This is a point that comes up systematically when we talk about globalization. In the Denationalization: Territory, Authority and Rights in a Global Digital Age[23],

Saskia Sassen shows that globalization may be linked to a form of state weakening, but we must be careful, because if we historicize state building, we see that the construction of the modern state can be read as an effort to make all essential aspects of society national. However, the State is gradually losing some of its prerogatives, particularly to wage war, control the economy or promote a national culture.

This is a largely unjustified criticism, because the state is thought of in an anhistorical way. Sassen believes that it should be a question of reconfiguration of the state rather than erosion. In the The Retreat of the State : The Diffusion of Power in the World Economy[24], Strange shows that it is not another political referee who will take the place of the State. The State itself is one of the main actors in the globalization of markets. It is a certain conception of how the state should be managed that will push the state to weaken, but it is not external forces that will weaken it. The transformation of citizenship is a logic that has come into the conception of citizenship within States. The issue of diasporas is part of the reconfiguration rather than an erosion of the state, as many states have in fact been regaining control over their diasporas for some time. The image of erosion is rather false, we are in a process of reconfiguring the State.

Space is globalization[edit | edit source]

Sassen wondered if we were in a "tipping point", i.e. in a rescheduling of authorities, territories, etc., all these levels, local, global and regional, were being articulated differently.

If we talk about globalization and space, we are in an articulation between flows and territories. The constitution of a state is a good example, city-states were in a logic of flow while empires are in a logic of territories by coercion. Charles Tilly speaks in War Making and State Making as Organized Crime[25] of « war making – state making ». States would have been formed by waging war. We must not reify the state, that is, when we talk about the state as the ultimate referent, it is a fiction.

Two approaches emerge. The great thinker in terms of flow is Castells who recomposes geography around a flow space in his book La société en réseau. There is a logic of deterritorialized flows, networked societies and information capitalism.

Two important thinkers are interested in the need to localize globalization. It's Appadurai and Robertson.

For Appadurai, the flows are disjointed, they circulate in different landscapes, either ethnic, media, technical, financial or ideological. The design of the local will evolve according to these different landscapes, there is an interaction and articulation between the local and the global, it is a mediation between the global and the local. Robertson is in the same logic. Globalisation is an indissoluble mixture of the global and the local, i.e. globalisation is not necessarily a homogenisation. The relationship to the territory is a permanent dialogue between the local and the global that will be interpreted.

Articulation of scales[edit | edit source]

We must ask ourselves how to articulate different geographical scales, because we are in an antagonism between flow and locality. There is a need for the tools to articulate all these scales. In other words, as recommended by Dicken in Location in space : a theoretical approach to economic geography[26], it is necessary to think of an approach in terms of located networks. The idea that globalization is a phenomenon that is both multiscalar and topological with applications at different places according to these scales is emerging.

Changing scales[edit | edit source]

Global formations and processes can and do destabilize the hierarchy of scales based on the national state. The global is constituted in part by the denationalization of particular elements that had been integrated into the institutional domains of the national.

The history of the modern state can be read as an effort to make all essential aspects of society national. Changing hierarchies does not mean that the old ones disappear in favour of the new ones, but that new ones emerge alongside the old ones. We must be careful, because it also means that some States have never been completely sovereign in practice.

Cities as located globalization[edit | edit source]

Sassen speaks of cities as globalization located using the image and role of cities because today polarized cities are emerging with a polarization of global economic activity. There is a dispersion of means of production that favours concentration, management and coordination.

Global cities are cities to be differentiated from global cities, because these cities have in common that from the moment the economy has become globalized, they become very important hubs and nodes, making global cities intrinsically linked to each other.

Global mobility[edit | edit source]

Mobility has become imperative, becoming a means of movement, but not given to everyone, generating inequalities. Cosmopolitanism concerns above all a favoured barn of humanity. But there are other compartmentalized globalizations.

Tourists and wanderers[edit | edit source]

In Le coût humain de la mondialisation[27], Zygmunt Bauman shows how globalization through the imperative of mobility will have something cleavable within humanity. There would be a new divide in terms of access to mobility. Mobility is becoming a factor of social stratification. It is very interesting today to question the link between national mobility and global mobility.

Cosmopolitanism[edit | edit source]

It is a rather positive approach with a very noble idea. Ulrich Beck sees cosmopolitanism as the prerogative of a deterritorialized global society, but which is above all the prerogative of the upper classes, because the lower classes will have difficulty participating in the global movement. There would be a cosmopolitan sovereignty to tame globalization. There is a tension around a very positive notion, but one that must be discussed around the notion of stratification, which is the question of global civil society.

A whole series of works are interested and promote the idea. Sikking and Keck in Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics, were interested in advocacy network; in Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination, Haas was interested in the notion of epistemic community. An epistemic community is a group of scientists with an internationally recognized authority, for example in the field of the environment. Advocacy networks are part of the literature of norms in international relations where the idea is to be able to advance ideas at the global level on a scene that goes beyond state borders, thus the ability to speak to a global arena, in order to make these ideas more relevant and stronger.

This type of literature leads us to question transnational social movements. When we look more closely, transnational activism remains nationally rooted. If we do not question the specific conditions of each country, we risk having a rather simplistic analysis by making a shortcut according to which the interests in a cosmopolitan world are the same. This is a contradiction with progressive movements, but coming from higher categories disconnected from the populations they are addressing. Thus, it is a cosmopolitan project socially located at the level of the most privileged classes, as Gobille notes in Les altermondialistes : des activistes transnationaux ?[28]

If we take the cosmopolitan project as an elitist project, then we can question whether we need cosmopolitan capital to be able to access these movements.

We may have the impression that these ideas of a relationship to the world and to the positive global are widespread in our society. Care must be taken not to differentiate between what some such as Skrbis and Woodward call "ordinary cosmopolitanism" in The Ambivalence of Ordinary Cosmopolitanism : Investigating the Limits of Cosmopolitan Openness[29]. In Western countries, one would tend to value relationships abroad with culture, but to reject the figure of the foreigner and the world from the moment the foreigner touches immigration and national culture. Adherence to cosmopolitan theses is not that easy and does not affect everyone.

Mobility from below[edit | edit source]

Mobility from below would be the result of a compartmentalization of mobility that will generate the inequalities of today's world. The idea of European integration is the establishment of a number of freedoms, including the freedom to move. The idea of this agreement is precisely to give a secure counterpart to the free movement of people with a multiplication of physical and electronic walls. There is even a functional apartheid that reveals a paradoxical relationship to mobility that has political and ethical effects.

Those left behind by globalisation and mobility will either be blocked or will be able to move along corridors, particularly in terms of migration routes. The case of remittances reveals that the money sent back by the poor workers of globalization to their countries of origin has long been underestimated, so there are countries where remittances represent 10% of GDP or even more than their own revenues. It is also something very present. We find ourselves in this stratification generated by mobility in globalization.

Diasporas that beyond governments that are increasingly interested in them, we have to do more and more to the possibility for diasporas to communicate with their countries of origin. It is a flow that is not necessarily a "winner" of globalization. Transnational entrepreneurs represent a particular flow of entrepreneurs who are part of the bi-national logic? Dans Le Gouvernement du monde. Une Critique politique de la globalisation[30],

Bayard will talk about a transnational middle class. These are people who, through their socialization to the new global economic rules, have one thing in common as part of a transnational middle class.

With mobility, there is a transnational phenomenon that occurs from above, for others mobility and either transnational or compartmentalized.

Annexes[edit | edit source]

Lectures[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Page de Stephan Davidshofer sur
  2. Page personnelle de Stephan Davidshofer sur le site du Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  3. Compte Twitter de Stephan Davidshofer
  4. Page de Xavier Guillaume sur
  5. Page personnelle de Xavier Guillaume sur le site de l'Université de Édimbourg
  6. Page personnelle de Xavier Guillaume sur le site de Science Po Paris PSIA
  7. Page de Xavier Guillaume sur
  8. Page personnelle de Xavier Guillaume sur le site de l'Université de Groningen
  9. Held, David, and Anthony G. McGrew. The Global Transformations Reader: An Introduction to the Globalization Debate. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2000.
  10. Sklair, Leslie, Paul Hirst, Grahame Thompson, Tony Spybey, and Steven Yearley. "Globalization in Question: The International Economy and the Possibilities of Governance." The British Journal of Sociology 48.2 (1997): 333.
  11. Hirst, Paul Q. From Statism to Pluralism: Democracy, Civil Society, and Global Politics. London: UCL, 1997.
  12. Gordon, David M. "New Left Review - David Gordon: The Global Economy: New Edifice or Crumbling Foundations?" New Left Review - David Gordon: The Global Economy: New Edifice or Crumbling Foundations?
  13. Waltz, Kenneth N. Theory of International Politics. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Pub., 1979.
  14. Gilpin, Robert. "The Theory of Hegemonic War." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 18.4 (1988): 591.
  15. Pijl, Kees Van Der. Transnational Classes and International Relations. London: Routledge, 1998.
  16. Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2000.
  17. Held, David, and Anthony G. McGrew. The Global Transformations Reader: An Introduction to the Globalization Debate. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2003.
  18. Friedman, Thomas L. The Lexus and the Olive Tree. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1999.
  19. Friedman, Thomas L. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.
  20. Giddens, Anthony. The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1990.
  21. Wallerstein, Immanuel Maurice. The Modern World-system. San Diego: Academic, 1974.
  22. Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Oxford: Blackwell, 1990.
  23. Sassen, Saskia. Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2006.
  24. Strange, Susan. The Retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in the World Economy. New York: Cambridge UP, 1996.
  25. Tilly, Charles, Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol. War Making and State Making as Organized Crime. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1985.
  26. Lloyd, Peter E., and Peter Dicken. Location in Space: A Theoretical Approach to Economic Geography. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.
  27. Zygmunt Bauman, Le coût humain de la mondialisation, Hachette, 1999
  28. Gobille Boris, « Les altermondialistes : des activistes transnationaux ? », Critique internationale 2/ 2005 (no 27), p. 131-145
  29. Skrbis, Zlatko, and Ian Woodward. "The Ambivalence of Ordinary Cosmopolitanism: Investigating the Limits of Cosmopolitan Openness." The Sociological Review 55.4 (2007): 730-47.
  30. Schlichte, Klaus. "Jean-François Bayart: Le Gouvernement Du Monde. Une Critique Politique De La Globalisation." Politische Vierteljahresschrift 47.2 (2006): 329-30.