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‘To what extent is globalization a very recent phenomenon?

‘To what extent is globalization a very recent phenomenon?

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This essay discusses the history of globalization and looks at the work of different theorists and their opinions on the subject.
This essay discusses the history of globalization and looks at the work of different theorists and their opinions on the subject.

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Sep 01, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/27/2013

 
Name:
Diana Devlin
Student Number:
06394132
Degree Course:
TSM: Sociology and History of Art and Architecture
Essay Title:
‘To what extent is globalization a very recent phenomenon?’ 
 
Word length:
4949
Due Date:
Friday January 16th 2009
Course:
Globalization
Lecturer:
Dr. Robert Holton
Tutorial Group:
Wednesday 13.00
Tutorial Teacher:
Andrea Rigon1
 
Q)‘To what extent is globalization a very recent phenomenon?’ 
The term ‘globalization’ has become a buzzword of our day. It is used daily across awide variety of disciplines and in the media, in connection with all matter of thingsfrom business and technology to sport and tourism. It seemed to spring up sosuddenly and take hold of the general publics attention with such force only in the lastdecade, but to what extent is globalization just a recent phenomenon? In this essay Ishall discuss how in fact globalization has been around for much much longer whether we were aware of it or not. I will start by explaining a bit about what exactlywe mean when we use the term globalization and I will look at a the work of a varietyof different theorists who have all looked back throughout history with regards toglobalization and its beginnings and early formations. I will also discuss some problems associated with the study of the history of globalization, yet why it is suchan important subject for our consideration.So what exactly do we talk about when we talk of globalization? A few things thatspring to mind are the world becoming a smaller place, distances no longer mattering,the spread of universal popular culture, like Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Facebook andPokemon, free-trade and capitalism, multinational corporations, neoliberalism, theweakening of the nation state, the internet, migration patterns, global inequality and justice, increased international travel, and enviromentalism and climate change. Wetalk of interdependance and ‘human interconnections that have assumed global proportions’ (Robertson, 2003: 5). Robertson (1992) uses the theme of ‘globalconsciousness’: an identification of the world becoming a single unified globalsociety.It is hard to give a clear picture of every layer and dimension that globalization entailsin a few short lines. It is an extremely complex, diverse and fluid entity thatencompasses many different disciplines. This ‘new world society, still under formation, presents a moving target, so any theory must be adaptable in definingglobalization itself’ (Lechnar, Boli, 2004: 55). The increased movement in capital, people, information and goods across borders that may be political, geographical or cultural are all key elements for us to keep in mind but as Holton argues ‘We have sofar proceeded without a systematic definition of globalization, preferring to note2
 
significant trends that might be built into a definition’ (Holton, 2005: 14).So is globalization just a recent phenomeon? There is in fact no exact starting point or date for the beginning of globalization because it is a set of processes and not just aunitary phenomenon. It all depends exactly which processs you are looking at.The term itself came into being in the social sciences in the 1960’s. Economistsstarted to use it in the 1980’s and it became widespread within the media in the1990’s. The coining of the term itself does not mean that this is when globalization began. This is only when theorists recognised the processes at work and gave a nameto what was going on.Some argue that globalization is only really a product of the last thirty years with thefall of the Berlin wall, the increase in information and communication technologiesand global social movements. Or that it is only to do with the development of modernity and the rise of the west, but if we look back throughtout history with aglobalized perspective we can find that these processes have been around in differentforms for millenia, it just took us a while to become aware of them. A lot of theoristshave shed light on different aspects for us to take into our consideration wheninvestigating when globalization began.It is always a good idea to start at the start and during the 19th century, Karl Marx,one of our sociological forefathers, in his ‘remarkably prescient’ (Holton, 1998: 22)writings on the all encompassing nature of capitalism, wrote how national and localautonomy would be eroded and emphasised how global economic interdependancewould become. If you go right back as far as you can to the 18th century and theEnlightment, (when the ideals of knowledge and reason became paramount) to thework of the early classical thinkers it is shocking how much you can find of what theywrote has global undertones and still applies to our world today.For example in 1774 the German philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder wrote“When has the entire earth ever been so closely joined together, by so few threads?Who has ever had more power and more machines such that with a single movementof a finger, entire nations are shaken?’ (Rothschild, 1999: 110). Two years after this3

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