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Globalization: Definition

Read the following definitions. This information will be used in the remainder of the course. When you are finished, Take the Quiz for this module.

Definitions of Globalization:

1. Joseph Stiglitz, an economist and winner of the Nobel Prize defines Globalization as follows:

Globalization "is the closer integration of the countries and peoples of the world ...brought about by the enormous reduction of costs of transportation and communication, and the breaking down of artificial barriers to the flows of goods, services, capital, knowledge, and people across borders." (from Globalization and its Discontents)

2. Thomas Friedman, political reporter for the New York Times, defines Globalization in terms of PARADIGM SHIFTS. We can compare the contemporary world to the world of the Cold War prior to the fall of Communism (1989). The following is a partial list of contrasts derived from Thomas Friedman's book The Lexus and the Olive Tree.

Paradigm Shifts from the Cold War to the Age of Globalization
Cold War Globalization
Division Integration
(of nations, markets and technologies)
the Wall the Web
8% of world's countries
have free markets
28% of world's countries
have free markets
Different cultures Global culture
Weight (megatons) Speed (megabits)
Power of nations Power of individuals, markets

3. Go to the Glossary section of the UC Atlas of Global Inequality ( Scroll down to the definition of Globalization. THIS DEFINITION IS THE CLOSEST TO THE UNDERSTANDING OF GLOBALIZATION THAT WILL BE DEVELOPED IN THIS COURSE. You will find the glossary a useful tool for this course. The definition is reproduced here for your convenience:

"Globalization, global integration: ‘…a widening, deepening and speeding up of interconnectedness in all aspects of contemporary social life from the cultural to the criminal, the financial to the spiritual’ (Held and McGrew 1999: 2). Several dimensions of globalization can usefully be identified. These dimensions can often be analyzed separately even though they may have powerful interconnections. Economic globalization means the greater global connectedness of economic activities, through transnational trade, capital flows and migration. Environmental globalization could include the increasingly global effects of human activity on the environment. Cultural globalization may highlight the connections among languages, ways of living, and fears of global homogeneity through the spread of North American and European languages and culture. Political globalization may include wider acceptance of global political standards such as human rights, democracy, labor standards, environmental standards, as well as the greater coordination of actions by governments and other institutions across the globe."
-- Source: UC Atlas of Global Inequality (

Note that in the above definition, Globalization is divided into four aspects or dimensions:

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Political
  • Cultural

In the modules used in this course, we will be primarily concerned with economic, political, and cultural issues.

Also note that the definition cites Held and McGrew who emphasize


as one of the general features of Globalization.

(NOTE: The reference is not complete, but is probably from an earlier edition of one of their books. See Book Links below.)

The UC Atlas definition emphasizes that while


these trends are also leading to potential


We shall be examining these trends, or economic, political, and cultural forces, throughout this course.

Article of the Day

Created on ... February 07, 2004. Revised 21:49 3/26/2006