The study of globalization is highly disputatious. Indeed, this entire volume is devoted to at least some of the major conceptual debates in the study of globalization. However, there are even more fundamental debates surrounding the whole issue of globalization. This ﬁrst chapter of the book contains an essay by Mauro F. Guillén that examines ﬁve of the key debates in the ﬁeld.While he does not include it as one of his debates, Guillén begins with the much discussed issue of just what is globalization. He reviews various deﬁnitions as well as proposing his own deﬁnition. He points out that globalization is not only a scientiﬁc concept but also an ideology with a multitude of meanings. In addition to disagreements over its deﬁnition, there is much dispute over just whenglobalization began. Having in fact covered several debates in his introductory remarks, Guillén turns to what he considers the ﬁve key debates:
Is globalization really happening? Does globalization produce convergence?
Does globalization undermine the authority of the nation-state? Is globality different from modernity? Is a globalculture in the making?
Guillén closes with some thoughts on what one of the ﬁelds covered in this book – sociology (others include political science, international relations, anthropology, economics, literary theory, geography) – has contributed to our understanding of globalization, as well as on the need for further research and more interdisciplinary work on the topic. Several of the debatesoutlined by Guillén appear later in this book, but the highly disputatious nature of globalization is reﬂected in the fact that there are many other ongoing arguments in the ﬁeld. Many of them appear in the following pages, but they represent only a small proportion of the large and growing number of debates in the study of globalization. While the fact of these exchanges does not promise any easyanswers to the big issues in the ﬁeld, it does reﬂect the ﬁeld’s enormous vibrancy.
Introduction to Globalization Debates
Mauro F. Guillén
Is Globalization Civilizing, Destructive or Feeble? A Critique of Five Key Debates in the Social Science Literature
Mauro F. Guillén
Globalization is one of the most contested topics in the socialsciences. Observers and theorists of globalization have variously argued that the rapid increase in crossborder economic, social, technological, and cultural exchange is civilizing, destructive, or feeble, to borrow Albert Hirschman’s celebrated metaphors. Harold Levitt’s “Globalization of Markets” or Kenichi Ohmae’s Borderless World promise boundless prosperity and consumer joy as a result ofglobalization, i.e. the global as civilizing. In sharp contrast to this view, the historian Paul Kennedy warns in Preparing for the Twenty-First Century against our lack of structures to deal with a global world, while political economist Dani Rodrik rings a similar bell of alarm in Has Globalization Gone Too Far? concerning the increasingly free international economic and ﬁnancial ﬂows. As in thecivilizing view, the destructive interpretation regards globalization as leading to convergence, albeit predicting harmful rather than beneﬁcial consequences. Unlike the adherents to either the civilizing or the destructive views of globalization, other scholars, namely, Paul Hirst and Grahame Thompson in Globalization in Question, and Robert Wade in “Globalization and Its Limits”, see it as a feebleprocess that has not yet challenged the nation-state and other fundamental features of the modern world. In this chapter I ﬁrst deﬁne globalization and its timing. Then, I review the main contributions of the various social sciences to research on globalization, with an emphasis on sociological perspectives. I organize the discussion and critique around ﬁve key debates or questions: Is globalization...
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