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By Fred W. Riggs

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Texts contributed by participants in a COCTA panel on globalization to be held during the World Sociology Congress in Montreal, July 1998, provide the data for an analysis of key concepts used in research on this topic. Among those who offer a conspectus of this concept are Christopher Chase-Dunn, Jeff Hart, George Modelski, Richard Tardanico and Majid Tehranian -- as quoted below.

Readers are invited to help develop this hypertext set of linked concepts by sending comments directly to the authors of individual texts or by writing everyone on GLOBE-L. To see who is included, take a look at the list. Our expectation is that by the time we meet in Montreal at the ISA Congress in July 1998 we will not only have clarified many important concepts sheltered *under the word, 'globalization,' but also reached some consensus about the tags that can most conveniently be used to represent them (note: asterisks offer links to slides). 

Tehranian: Globalization is a process that has been going on for the past 5000 years, but it has significantly accelerated since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991.1 Elements of globalization include transborder capital, labor, management, news, images, and data flows.2The main engines of globalization are the transnational corporations (TNCs), transnational media organizations (TMCs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and alternative government organizations (AGOs). From a humanist perspective, globalization entails both positive and negative consequences: it is both narrowing and widening the income gaps among and within nations, intensifying and diminishing political domination, and homogenizing and pluralizing cultural identities.3

Modelski: ...globalization is a process along four dimensions: economic globalization, formation of world opinion, democratization, and political globalization. This was rounded off with the assertion that changes along one of these dimensions (such as economic globalization) elicited changes among the other dimensions. 

Chase-Dunn:During the late 1980s a new term entered popular discourse: globalization. Instead of clarifying issues of world development the buzzword rather seemed to add confusion and misunderstandings. There are at least five different dimensions of globalization that need to be distinguished:

While the earlier popular discourse on globalization seemed to suggest-at least implicitly-that globalization and world economic growth occur in tandem, a closer look reveals that the various aspects of globalization became accentuated in the phase of long term sluggish economic growth (1973-1992) as compared with the earlier long term economic upswing (1950-1973)... Adjectives such as "uneven" and "limits" have increasingly appeared in the titles of academic works on globalization. This not only reflects a critical stance, but also the obvious need for theoretical clarity and empirical research... How are the different aspects of globalization related to one another? 

Tardanico: . . . A starting point is recognition of the heuristic nature of the concept of [global] "restructuring," as commonly used in the burgeoning literature on the reordering of the world economy during the late twentieth century. . . The concept refers to basic, more-or-less rapid change in the technical, social, political, and territorial organization of investment, production, trade, and aid. Among the shifts most commonly identified are the transnationalization of communication, commerce, production, ownership, consumption, sociocultural reproduction, and politics; the increased segmentation and volatility of market demand; the organizational decentralization of firms and the enhanced flexibility of production; the strategic ascendance of finance capital and specialized services relative to manufacturing; the transfer of public resources to private hands; the proportional relocation of manufacturing activity from the United States and Western Europe to East Asia as well as poor geographic areas; and deterioration in the average pay, stability, and other conditions of employment. 

Jeffrey Hart has identified five concepts represented by globalization which he lists as follows:

~~~ (1) the existence of a global infrastructure;
~~~ (2) global harmonization or convergence of some important characteristic feature;
~~~ (3) borderlessness;
~~~ (4) global diffusion of some initially localized phenomenon; and
~~~ (5) geographical dispersion of core competences in some highly desirable activities. 

It will be easier to talk about these different aspects of globalization if we have specific terms for each concept, and if we can put them in some logically coherent framework. In this background paper, we will propose such a context, identify and provide terms for each concept, while offering examples of their utilization in the full texts that may be viewed at: Globalization Texts.


1. Time/space -- the where and when questions

2. Dimensions -- reflecting disciplinary concerns

3. Functions and Structures -- causes, consequences and practices

4. Perspectives -- induction/deduction, normative evaluation, and paradigms

Click here to view a set of slides linked to brief explanatory notes.

Go to a summary discussion of these main categories; a classified list of the terms for individual concepts; and alphabetic indexfor these terms. Links to the main parts of this document are provided above. Each of the quoted texts is linked to the full text from which it is quoted. Readers are urged to read this material as a hypertext, following the leads that interest them and returning to this document by using the BACK button -- try doing it now just to get the feel! We also invite interactive discourse: you may write directly to the author of each quoted text by using the "mailto" links that follow their names in the text documents and by writing collectively to all our participants on Globe-L. Some of them have their own Web Sites that can also be accessed from the Texts document.


[NOTE: See the alphabetical index of terms and the classification of concepts.]

Contemporary globalization can be viewed as just the latest phase of a long-term process, and if we accept the existence of many world-systems located in different parts of our planet, we can see that globalization could have occurred in each of them, and that our contemporary world-system is truly planetary. Put differently, whatever happens, happens somewhere in a time/space continuum. Consequently, we need concepts that provide a time/space context for understanding the processes of globalization. However, our vocabulary gives us no convenient terms for viewing time/space as a single holistic context of action. Instead, we look at time/space as though its two major dimensions could be separated and our language reflects this analytic perspective when we talk about time andspace. Academically, we have partitioned this concept into History and Geography. Despite this artificiality, we have no choice but to develop separate temporal and spatial concepts to look at these two aspects of time/space. When we do that, we might come up with the following notions -- please remember this is just a first draft and readers are urged to think about and suggest better options. 

#1A. TIME: Chronology. Using Tehranian's text as a starting point, we can begin with his first sentence which reads:

[1a] Globalization is a process that has been going on for the past 5000 years, but it has significantly accelerated since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991.

This sentence distinguishes between a long-term historical perspective on globalization and a contemporary one. Phrases in the sentence provide the basis for identifying two sub-concepts described by Tehranian as follows:

[1a.1] a process that has been going on for the past 5000 years, and

[1a.2] a process that has accelerated since... 1991

To refer to these concepts precisely, we need descriptive texts like these, but it is inconvenient to keep repeating a text whenever we want to refer frequently to a concept. If we could substitute a word or short phrase, it would make it much easier to say what we mean and be understood. We usually refer to such concept handles or labels as terms, but since this word is often also used to mean a concept -- i.e., the concept it represents -- it can be ambiguous. Instead, therefore, I shall use a different word, tag, which is never confused with a concept. Tags are meaningless items (symbols, words, pictures, or objects) that enable one to find something of value to which they are attached. Tags have no intrinsic meaning, but they can identify concepts such as those described above in [1a.1] and [1a.2]. Here are some possible tags for each of them:

Consider the following possibilities:

            1. 1a.1, 1a.2
            2. historical globalization, contemporary globalization
            3. primoglo, contoglo
            4. HG or HiG; CG or CoG

Each item in this list suggests a different kind of tag that can be used for these two concepts. We don't have to choose among them because each can be used as a synonym to mean exactly the same thing. However, each takes a form that has different advantages and drawbacks. One can select any of them after considering their tradeoffs.

Among the four types of tags illustrated above, consider that the first involves the use of an arbitrary symbol that has absolutely no intrinsic meaning. However, in context, it can quite precisely designate a concept. Out of context, 1a.1 could mean anything, but here, it can represent the concept described in [1a.1]. So long as the context is apparent, such tags are convenient but as soon as the context is removed, they become meaningless. A completely meaningless word, like blob would do as well. For use anywhere but right here, therefore, we cannot use such a tag.

The second tag is a descriptive phrase and it is pretty intelligible -- on its face, we can easily remember that historical globalization refers to a long-term process going back thousands of years, but contemporary globalization represents the latest phase of this process, e.g., since 1991. Although these phrases are clear and have face validity, they are lengthy and frequent repetition makes them clumsy.

We may wish we had a short form for the same concept. If we were willing to accept neologisms, as illustrated in the third item, we might try coining a word -- e.g., primoglo for [1a.1] and contoglofor [1b].

A fourth possibility is to use an abbreviation: e.g., HG for [1a.1] and CG for [1a.2]. Some people prefer acronyms, i.e., pronounceable abbreviations -- .e.g HiG and CoG in place of HG and CG.  Here I will use glo. as an abbreviation for globalization, but in combining forms, I will omit the "." as seen here in 'chronoglo' and 'contoglo'.

Each tag has its advantages and disadvantages, but all of them can represent the same concept, they are therefore equivalents (synonyms). None of them are "terms" with already establilshed meanings and we cannot, therefore, view these forms as "concepts" -- but as tags they can identify concepts.  Among them, the neologisms are succinct and pretty easy to remember but they are likely to offend purists who reject such coinages out of hand as inelegant and not permissible in serious writings. It's O.K. for a Jabberwockyto invent words like slithy and borogove, but not for ordinary scholars. Well, perhaps abbreviations are more acceptable -- but sometimes they are hard to remember -- even harder than neologisms. HG could mean Heavy Going, whereas it's hard to think of another meaning for histoglobal.

The four tags suggested for each concept illustrate several possibilities -- we don't have to choose among them because each can be used as a synonym to mean exactly the same thing. However, each takes a form that has different advantages and drawbacks. One can select any of them after considering their tradeoffs -- and, of course, one can use two or more pleonasticallyas by placing a synonym in parentheses to indicate that it has the same meaning as another expression. For example, for [1a.1] I might write "...historical globalization (HG) ..." to show that these are two tags for the same concept. In fact, this is a common practice as when we write "International Sociological Association (ISA)" or "gross national produce (GNP)".

However, the choice of tags is optional and those who don't like one type can choose another. If we think of a concept record as a record that first describes a concept and then lists tags available to represent it, we will have a format open to the listing of different tags for any concept -- no one of them need be "standardized" -- the only important question is whether they can be remembered and understood. Consider the two following records:

[1a.1] a process that has been going on for the past 5000 years:  1a.1, historical globalization, primoglo, HG

[1a.2] a process that has accelerated since the demise of the Soviet Union:  1a.2, contemporary globalization, contoglo, CG, COG

An important point to remember is that whereas we often debate the meanings of terms -- globalization is an example -- tags have no intrinsic meanings to debate. They merely point to a concept description and offer two options:

  In neither case will disputes about the proper meanings of a "term" arise. Note that I have not used the word, definition, above. We often speak about "defining concepts" but the phrase is a oxymoron. Only words or things can be defined, not concepts -- references to a "definition" imply the prior existence of a term or object to be defined. By contrast, we can "describe concepts" by specifying their essential characteristics -- i.e., those attributes that are needed in order to say that something is a concept. In [1a.1] such attributes are being a process and having a long-term status. The existence of a concept does not depend on its being the definition of anything, a term or an object -- concepts are created by their descriptions -- they are neither true nor false, real or unreal, but they may well be useful or useless. Their utility depends on whatever use we make of them and we can simply ignore useless concepts -- there is no reason to fight them.

Describing concepts permits us to escape a trap that provokes fruitless disputes when we argue that a definition is "wrong" and should be "corrected." In [1a.1], for example, if we thought of "historical globalization" as a term and tried to define it, we might argue that although the process is old, it did not begin 5000 years ago. Rather, we might claim, it started 6000 or 4000 years ago. Since, in fact, "historical" carries no chronological implications, it is never right or wrong to claim that history started at any given date. Decisions about when to date a process can be specified in a concept definition, and we could easily imagine different texts for [1a.1] each stipulating a different starting date. No one of them would be a better or worse definition of "historical," but each would be a different concept. If we wanted to use several such marginally different concepts, we could make our intentions clear by using 100 tags for each of them, as represented by [1a.0-9] or however many tags seemed useful. No doubt most of the concepts that we can imagine or describe are useless, but that does not mean that they are not concepts. Indeed, I think that most of the concepts we could create are indeed useless and deserved neglect will sweep them into an historical dustbin -- don't fight them, just ignore them. The important challenge is to identify significant concepts by describing them, and then to find suitable tags to designate them. As for However, if we really don't care when, exactly, the process started, we could settle for a single tag and change the concept description to a vaguer criterion, e.g., "something like 5 millennia ago." Concepts, it appears, are never true or false, but they can be more or less useful in constructing theories and writing descriptions. Moreover, some are necessary if we want to think clearly about a subject, but we can only use them efficiently if we have convenient ways to represent them.

Looking again at the tags listed under [1a.1] and [1a.2], notice that each set contains a neologism. The aversion to neologisms is so powerful among social scientists that, unlike natural scientists, they hamper their own efforts to identify and designate new concepts. As a result they either use long phrases or, quite often, stipulate a new meaning for a familiar word. This practice is really reprehensible, in my opinion, because it produces ambiguity -- all established words already have meanings that can easily be confused with any new meanings one may assign to a word.

Admittedly, when the new meaning occurs in a radically different context, it is not difficult to distinguish between the old and the new senses of a word. Consider mouse which I am now using for a gadget that helps me control my computer. However, this new meaning is easily distinguished by context from its older meanings, like that of a household rodent. Unfortunately, when social scientists assign a new meaning to a familiar word, the old and new contexts are so similar that ambiguity is almost unavoidable. Among the tags for new concepts suggested here, you will not find any noviterms, the tag I use to represent any established word for which a new meaning is proposed. However, I will in most cases suggest a neologism, by which I mean a newly coined word. Of course, familiar words will be suggested for established concepts. However, a great many concepts needed to develop our understandings of globalization are, indeed, quite new, which justifies the creation of neologisms. However, in every such case a phrase composed of familiar words will also be mentioned and users may select either (or both) as they prefer.

To conclude this discussion of temporal concepts of globalization, let me mention the problem of hierarchic levels. More generic concepts link more specific concepts and we do need different tags to distinguish between levels. If we think of contoglo and primoglo as terms for contemporary and pre-modern globalization, then do we not need a higher level concept to include both? How about chronoglo, a concept that could be described as

[1] the process of globalization viewed chronologically, i.e., in all possible time periods: 1, globalization any time, chronoglo, GAT 

Jerry Bentley: had such a concept in mind when he supported: a general definition that works for all relevant times and places, then periodizing and recognizing dynamics at work that are susceptible to analysis.

[Bentley also identified:] Some notable turning points in the history of globalization include the following, although this is by no means an exclusive list: the migration of *Homo erectus* from Africa some 500,000 to 1,000,000 years ago; the domestication of horses and the invention of stout watercraft about 4000 B.C.E.; the invention of the wheel about 3500 B.C.E.; the domestication of camels after 3000 B.C.E.; the establishment of well traveled sea lanes in the Indian Ocean after 500 B.C.E.; the opening of the silk roads about 200 B.C.E.; the spread of epidemic diseases throughout the eastern hemisphere after 200 C.E.; the establishment of permanent contacts between the eastern hemisphere, the western hemisphere, and Oceania after 1492; the founding of global trading companies after 1600; the development of modern transportation and communication technologies after industrialization; and the emergence of transnational corporations and an integrated global economy in the twentieth century.

Could we say that although chronoglo can support a very broad dichotomy, such as between primoglo and contoglo, it can also provide a context for more specific periodizations, such as those proposed by Bentley? Categories like his will be useful for historians whereas most social scientists may find the dichotomous scheme adequate for their purposes.

However, the general rubric provided by chronoglo is also contextual for theorists who reject all dating of stages as inherently arbitrary or factitious. Indeed, the generic concept enables them to criticize any scheme for stages or periods as arbitrary by contrast with cyclical notions or pulsations viewed as a better way to understand the processes of globalization throughout time. Perhaps the two perspectives can be linked in a helical metaphor that combines short-term cycles with long-term fundamental trends. This seems to be what Mlinarand Albrow had in mind when characterizing process as a pattern of historical change that ...elides the difference between open-ended transformations and repeatable, predictable sequences.

Remember that concepts are never true or false -- we need only ask whether or not they are useful as tools in our analysis, and it is useful to be able to identify the concepts we reject.

Let us now turn to some spatial aspects of the time/space continuum.

#1B. SPACE: Locus. We sometimes use locus very broadly to refer to any place where something happens and I suggest that we use it here for the generic concept:

[1B] the geographic location of any global system or its sub-systems: locus

Some might think that "location" would be preferable because it is a more familiar word. However, location usually points only to a local place, and we may think of such locations as including villages, cities, towns, and districts. At the opposite extreme, the largest locus on Earth is the planet. No doubt, our planet is the locus of the contemporary world-system, but the locus of pre-modern world systems (before 1500 AD) was, I think, always sub-planetary. Would it not be useful to have a concept that could be described as:

[1B.1] The locus of any world-system, i.e., the farthest reaches of all interactions within that system: global locus, glocus, GL

Note that in this concept description the word, locus, is marked to show that it designates a concept described elsewhere in this glossary. We can refer to all such marked words within a concept definition as entailments. The use of entailed words and phrases enables us to show how certain concepts are related to each other, especially to link generic concepts with more specific ones. In this case, the maximum extent of any locus within a world-system is its glocus, i.e., its fully globalized geographic extent in that system..

The glocus of a word-system need not be very large. For example, prior to European contact, the Hawaiian Islands constituted a world-system, and, although the glocus of this system included the whole archipelago, that was only a small part of the world. For several thousand years there has been a vast world-system whose glocus extended throughout the Afro-Eurasian continent, but it did not include the Western hemisphere. However, this continental system became linked with the Americas during the 16thcentury, leading to the creation of a truly planetary glocus. 

[1B.15] the locus of a world-system that includes the whole planet: planetary locus, plocus

This usage involves a distinction between global and planetary -- anything that involves all of Earth as a member of our solar system is planetary, a special case of a glocus. We need to make this distinction if we want to use "'global" to think of historical globalization as going back several thousand years. Prior to the 16th century, the glocus of our planet's largest world-system was only hemispheric, but since them, it has become planetary. Put differently, the globalization of earlier world-systems was sub-planetary, but contemporary globalization is now planetary.

At the opposite extreme, spatially, of any glocus are an innumerable set of locations that we may characterize as local. Unfortunately, our thoughts about locations are usually parochial in the sense that they pay scarcely any attention to relations between localities and their environment. When they do dwell on such interactions, they are normally limited to such sub-global entities as individuals, groups, communities, states or "societies" (vaguely defined) as local entities, although specialists on civilizations (or cultural spheres) do look at how the norms of a "civilization" impinge on its member communities. Increasingly, we need to think of locations in global terms, suggesting the use of this concept: 

[1B.2] the locus of any sub-system of a world-system: globally interactive locality, GIL, glocality,

In this usage, cities. Regions and states can be glocalities, as well as villages and individuals. We might add special terms for the various types of glocalities ranging from individual and parochial to urban, regional, state, and even civilizational. However, it seems unnecessary to try to do that here. Instead, let us look at some texts that illustrate the use of glocality to glocus. . 


Within "global trends", the processes involved are thought to connect individuals to large-scale systems as part of complex dialectics of change at both the local and global poles... In as much as the local and the global shape the circumstance of our daily lives, the crux of the matter is not one of awarding empirical or theoretical priority to the one above the other. Rather, one is to insist on the local, the global and other relevant (but perpetually shifting) geographical scale levels which are the result, the product of socio-spatial change.

We can now recognize that world-systems affect every locality contained within them and, reciprocally, localities may, at least potentially, influence the world-systems in which they are located. In order to underline such a focus on the glocal as a point of interaction with the global, we might well use glocality to talk about any locality in its global context. 

McBride: ... the consequences of Glocalization for society (labour, business, NGOs, indigenous peoples, social movements and gender) and the state at all levels - international, national, and sub-national; and the challenges posed to institutions (including governments and the third sector) and social groups as they respond to Glocalization. 

Herrmann: ... Glocalization is mainly approached by looking at single issues like economic changes, ways of political negotiation etc.. And closely connected with this is the limitation on an institutional point of view. Then - perhaps - changes in values are considered. But what really matters is the holistic change in soci(et)al realms... This is only a frame for processes for strengthening local and regional and not least personal ways of exclusion and inclusion, participation and passiveness etc.

The use of "glocality" enables us to distinguish between localities thought of as though they could exist independently of their world-system. Admittedly we often see them as shaped by the region, state, or civilization in which they find themselves, but glocalities, by definition, are viewed as interactive with the world-systems in which they are located in. In this usage, glocus points to the macro-level locus of a world-system, and glocality to any of its local sub-systems.

All glocalities within a world system are not homogeneous -- indeed, vast differences between them are consistent with their interdependence with a world-system. It is tempting to generalize about major regions, like "first," "second," and "third" world, or continental/insular, temperate/tropical, desert/sown, rural/urban. All such distinctions are relevant provided they are not viewed simplistically. Knauder's work in Mozambique provides a context for him to offer the following generalizations -- and for us to ask whether glocalization has similar of different effects elsewhere. 

Knauder: The interrelation between the process of globalization and the process of Third World urbanization ... and Third World rural stagnation or slow development... are analyzed theoretically and empirically in this research... Cities are not dealt with as units but two levels of urbanization... are distinguished... the poor peri-urban areas and the... modernized parts of the cities... [noting a] huge gap between the two urban worlds as well as between peri-urban and rural areas... As main causes of poverty, the process of deglobalization, the structural adjustment programmes and the failure of rural development programmes are discussed and possible solutions suggested.

Another way to situate the local/global interface involves the transformation of groups. Traditionally we think of small groups as inherently local because they hinge on face-to-face interactions. Today, small groups can include members scattered anywhere in the world because their identity is based on the virtual interactiveness of computer technology and the internet. Since individuals can link many such groups, information has replaced territoriality as the primary basis for social interaction as glocuses replace localities throughout our world-system. Here is a text that voices this perception:

Mlinar: ...expanding accessibility both necessitates and enables increasing selectivity which results in the formation of various groups, organizations or networks made up of a small number of actors. These groups have no territorial base nor do they act territorially...

Although we associate time and space with History and Geography, these disciplines increasingly merge as the time/space parameters of action lose their force. Meanwhile, other disciplines also respond to new dimensions of globalization that we need to bring within the scope of this inquiry.



[NOTE: See the alphabetical index of terms and the classificationof concepts.]

Because most of us have been schooled in such academic disciplines as History and Geography -- as well as Sociology, Economics, Psychology, Anthropology, Political Science, Communications, etc. -- we tend to focus on selected dimension of globalization that interest us because they relate to our fields of specialization and the discourse communities which become our frames of reference. Indeed, we may even equate globalization with one of these dimensions -- for example with the global import of trade, money markets, and multi-national corporations as an economic aspect of globalization, with international organizations, world politics and peace/war a political dimension, with problems of nationalism, ethnicity, race and religion as social or cultural aspects, and with the flow of information, the mass media, and the internet as communications and information in global contexts. Such concerns are reflected in this text: Tehranian: Elements of globalization include transborder capital, labor, management, news, images, and data flows.

In these sentences the author points to selected dimensions of globalization but he could have extended the list substantially by reference to more disciplines. Depending on our disciplinary orientations and the particular facets of globalization we find interesting, we often equate some aspect or dimension of the process with the whole pattern. Indeed, it is truly difficult to study globalization in a holistic perspective -- it is both easier and more gratifying to slice off some aspect of the whole and look at it as though it encompassed the global pattern. As I see it, we do need all these different perspectives. Even a house can scarcely be viewed as a whole -- we can look at it from the front, back, side, overhead or inside. Each view is different, yet we understand that they are all aspects of a single house. It is more difficult for us to see how every dimension of globalization is just one part of a vast interactive system.

The selection of aspects of a complex system to view as though they embraced all its parts is conditioned by the force of our academic disciplines which give us different vantage points for looking at globalization. They provide us with categories (lenses) and concepts through which to take the snap shots that create the diverse montages which, in our minds, form the complex global system found in our world today. Since we can scarcely imagine any other lenses through which to look at the world, these orientations are predictable and perhaps unavoidable. Yet we could perhaps acquire a more skeptical vantage point to deal with the phenomena of globalization if we remembered the peculiarly parochial nature of a way of looking at the world that has evolved only recently in our universities. Analyses like those of the Gulbenkian Commission Report, chaired by Immanuel Wallerstein, ISA President, have identified some of the historical forces that generated the particular criteria and distinctions of the modern social sciences. His call for reforms rests, in large part, on the major changes that contemporary globalization has wrought in our world.

It is premature to speculate about what new images or categories any future re-structuring of social science will, indeed, bring about, but they will, no doubt, give us tools for handling significant dimensions of globalization that we are now neglecting.

Having said that, we can nevertheless take one step toward clarification by describing and tagging the major dimensions of our globalized world-system that, in a sense, constitute its most salient threads. Let us consider how they might identify facets of globalization as each discipline looks at them.

To start with, History and Geography provide frameworks that focus on the temporal and spatial dimensions of globalization -- as noted above. However, each discipline provides a wealth of analytic information that goes far beyond their time/space platforms. Indeed, they are rich with descriptions and theoretical analyses that help us understand the dynamics, the causes and consequences, of the whole canvas of globalization. It is useful to have a technical term for each disciplinary dimension, starting with:

[2A] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its historical dimensions: historical world-systems, histoglobal

First, please distinguish between chronoglo and histoglobal: the former is a matter of dating periods of globalization and the latter involves analysis of events and relations that occurred during any such period. A further distinction is made between the adjectival form of disciplinary perspectives on world-systems as illustrated by 'histoglobal,' and the substantive form of non-disciplinary characterizations of a world-system as illustrated by 'chronoglo,' used as a noun formed with an abbreviation, glo., standing for globalization. To illustrate a histoglobal perspective, consider the following comments by Gundar Frank. 

Frank:  ...globalism [even more than globalization] was a fact of life already since at least 1500 for the whole world... the AfroEurasian "ecumene" or "central world system" functioned as a single unit already long before that... historical continuity has been far more important than any and all dis-continuities. The perception of a major new departure, which allegedly spells a dis-continuous break in world history, is substantially [mis] informed by a Eurocentric vantage point... we are badly equipped to confront our one world reality when we are mis-guided into thinking that our world is only just now undergoing a belated process of "globalization." Our very language and its categories reflect and in turn mis-guide our thinking... short of inventing an entirely new vocabulary that would be unfamiliar to the reader, I am obliged to make do with received terminology... We also need global analysis and theory... the conventional notion of 'diverse cultures' being 'penetrated' by emergent universalist forces is misfounded.... The difference is continuously forming at the same time and in formative connection with more obviously integrational developments ....

Frank's ideas are also impregnated with geographical contexts for which we might want this concept:

[2B] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its geographic dimensions: geoglobal perspective, geoglobal

The adjectival form used here presupposes a linked noun like dimension or perspective., but we can use the word by itself as just short form of the whole idiom. Among the geographic concepts needed in discourse on globalization are those involving cities and villages, states and regions. An example taken from Henry Teune reads:Teune: The political system of the world is now made up of two conflicting systems, one of cities and political communities within them as well as their organizations and associations with counterparts in other countries in a global political economy and the other the international system of states -- the new and the old. The elite of the first is a loose association of business leaders trained in a common curriculum, professionals with various knowledge and amusement based activities, and regional and local public officials dealing with problems of transportation, education, the environment; that of the second are national political party leaders, trade union officials, military officers... New forms of political community are being formed in urban places -- neighborhood organizations, residential associations, affinity based residential blocks or areas... Industrial and research parks offer life-styles as well as work. Economic organizations take on political activities, supporting political parties or candidates or "volunteering" to help others.

Concurrently with the rise of macro-level and nomothetic studies that seek to generalize about contemporary phenomena we see an increase in the number of micro-level and idiographic inquiries in the specific details of life in particular localities. Thus social science disciplines and multi-disciplinary area studies are increasingly anchored in geographic frameworks that provide a comprehensive context for global studies.

Sociology offers a perspective based on social action, how people relate to each other at diverse levels. Could we think of this as socioglobal -- not a holistic image of globalization but a very important aspect that takes into account all the dimensions of social interaction? 

Mlinar : Sociology is one of the last of the social sciences to take up the subject of the globalisation of society although... as a general and generalising social science which encompasses all spheres of social life in all periods of time... it offers the most suitable starting-point for study of the emerging world society, as the society with the highest level of complexity.

A related text stressing the norms and patterns that control individual perceptions, leading to ambivalence, social conflict, and disruptions, is the following: 

Gill: Globalization is contributing to the emergence of a differently constituted self and social morality: a self and a social morality which no longer needs to situate itself within a progress narrative. Yet, because globalization is an ambivalent and uneven process, some sections of the society are feeling cheated and displaced by change and are increasingly attracted to right-wing and fundamentalist ideas and movements which want to return to old certainties. So, the episode is also making new social divisions apparent: namely, that between those favoured and those threatened by globalization. Will those who are now able to feel shame for the racism of white Australians be blind to the plight of those materially and spiritually threatened by globalization?

Perhaps Gill could add a reference here to the response of Aboriginal Australians to globalization, a theme that Celebipoints to in his text quoted below. As these two texts also illustrate, the social and psychological are so enmeshed it may be arbitrary to split them -- a fact made clear in the literature on "social-psychology" which could, of course, be separated out for recognition as another dimension of globalization. Nevertheless, in recognition of the established disciplines, let us insert here the following concept: 

[2C] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its sociological dimensions: socioglobal

Economists, of course, are concerned especially with the exchange of goods and services, trade, money, markets, savings and capital, as fundamental factors in the processes of globalization. The concept description might be:

[2D] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its economic dimensions:  economic globalization, econoglobal 

Chase-Dunn.There are at least five different dimensions of globalization that need to be distinguished: economic globalization and others 

HeydebrandI define economic globalization, generally, as an increase in the levels and rates of the transnational expansion of finance capital (foreign direct investments and portfolio investments), economic and corporate concentration, and trade. I define the current wave of economic globalization as the third phase of a historical transnational expansion of industrial and finance capitalism that started around 1850 in Europe and grew until about 1913 under British auspices (first phase), was interrupted by WWI, the October 1917 Russian Revolution and a subsequent 70-year hiatus from about 1919 to 1989... and resumed its expansion after the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989/90.

Political Scientists, accustomed to looking at governance, states, politics and administration as a major focus of attention, will naturally focus on those aspects of globalization that involve states, public institutions and policies, at many levels and in many patterns ranging from violent conflict to peaceable accommodation.

[2E] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its dimensions: political globalization, poliglobal 

Chase-Dunn: There are at least five different dimensions of globalization that need to be distinguished: political globalization, and others.

Among the political consequences of globalization identified by Henry Teune, consider this text:

Teune: The secular justification for governance has shifted from collective well-being and achievements through rulership to individual opportunity through democracy, undermining the rationale for subordination of individuals, localities, and groups to the state. In so far as the ideology of democracy must be inclusive and, hence, global, the structure of conflict between the global and the state, the local and the national, has been re-cast as one of multiple competing and conflicting levels.

Anthropologists often think, among other things, about cultural patterns as they arise within a community or affect the more complex relationships of peoples adhering to diverse and overlapping cultures, we need a term to focus attention on the aspects of globalization that might most centrally represent their interests. No doubt they overlap extensively with the socioglobal as viewed by sociologists. However, we might add a term like ethnoglobalthat would direct our attention to the ethnographic perspective and, more specifically, to the important role of ethnicity, of national identity and community as factors affecting personal identity and interactive patterns in a global system and all its localities.

[2F] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its ethnographic dimensions: ethnographic globalization, ethnoglobal

Chase-Dunn: There are at least five different dimensions of globalization that need to be distinguished: [including] cultural values and institutionsand others.

Communications specialists study how information is exchanged, stored, and used, with increasing emphasis on the new technologies of the internet for recording and exchanging data. The information revolution and its relation to globalization is a remarkable, not to say stunning, contemporary development that is extraordinarily important for the study of globalization. Since all communication involves the exchange of information, and because "com" does not provide a convenient combining form, I suggest the stem of "information" as a possibility, producing infoglobal as a term to identify the development, use, and exchange of information as a crucial aspect of globalization.

[2G] the dimension of globalization that focuses on information and communication dimensions:  informational globalization, infoglobal

Chase-Dunn:There are at least five different dimensions of globalization that need to be distinguished: [including] globalization of communication. 

Krause:...trade liberalization destroys rural societies as well as the environment, weakens the labor movement, and threatens cultural diversity and self-determination.... [however] technology is providing a communications forum for organizations and individuals that are generally ignored -- or stereotyped in negative terms -- by the corporate-controlled mainstream media. By giving these organizations a voice, technology is increasing the likelihood that their concerns will be acknowledged, and -- hopefully -- addressed.

Physicians and health experts study the spread and incidence of diseases and worry about how to enhance the well-being of humans and other living things -- I see no convenient stem from these words, but we might use vita- as in vitality, vital force, and vitamin to form vitaglobal, a term that connotes the degree of health or illness that characterizes humans in a globalized world. 

Twaddle: A model constructed from expert opinion suggests that hegemonic systems, national systems, and medical care systems all contribute, with specific elements identified in each. Three sociological ideas are suggested: a model of trends leading to a fiscal crisis and a crisis of alienation; communities, professions and markets as ideal typical organizational alternatives; global post-Fordist and world systems theories; and hegemonic projects. Together these could explain the timing, speed and direction of health care reform efforts throughout the world.

[2I] ] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its health and disease dimensions: vitaglobal

Demographers look at the rise and fall of human populations and the factors that explain or result from such changes. We might use demoglobal to speak about the demographic aspects of globalization:

[2J] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its demographic dimensions: demographic globalization, demoglobal 

Rathzel:The role migration plays in the everyday lives of all groups: ... globalization is mainly this process of deregulation of labour markets, de-nationalisation of capital, opening of borders for goods and capital and on the other side closing it for people - for poor people mainly. [These] economic processes influence migration processes by a) encouraging migration or making it necessary on the one hand, b) improving the (technical) possibilities of closing borders, and c) increasing the employment of "illegal" migrant workers.

Psychologists focus their attention on individuals and their mental problems -- in a global perspective they look at how individuals react to forces at work in a global system:

[2K] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its psychological dimensions: psychological globalization, psychoglobal

Celebi:. ... people have struggled against [becoming] passive peasants of that global village [because it]... would be harmful for their human potential. There would be no place to actualize themselves and there would be no way out to emancipate themselves from alienation. People have conceived that resisting against this process could be realized through the remembrance of their selves only.

As noted above in the comments on socioglobal , the line between psychology and sociology is so fuzzy that some scholars link them under the single hybrid field of social-psychology .

Comparative Religion is a discipline that supports research on how metaphysical beliefs and related practices affect and are affected by globalization. It needs to be included in our catalog:

[2L] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its metaphysical dimensions: metaphysical globalization, metaglobal

Humanists in an array of fields study the arts, literature, music, drama, etc. -- all of which can be related to the causes and consequences of globalization:

[2M] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its humanistic dimensions: humanistic globalization, homiglobal

Since both humi- and humani- sound awkward as prefixes, I propose homi- instead: it is found in hominoid as the name for a biological family that includes humans, and it reminds us of homicide, a negative term for killing humans. Its connotations in homiglobal will, I feel, be more positive.

Linguists focus on language, including its relations to human behavior. Among them we may well include:

[2N] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its linguistic dimensions: linguistic globalization, linguaglobal, glottoglobal,

An obvious example is the need for and growing use of a "lingua franca," notably English and a few other international languages that enable large numbers of educated persons around the world to communicate with each other. However, perhaps an equally important glottoglobal matter is our growing sensitivity to the values inherent in many languages as cultural vehicles and the efforts that are made to promote the survival and use of these languages. Because glotto- refers to speech rather than the study of language, I prefer 'glottoglobal' to 'linguaglobal.'

Mlinar: Will national homogenisation at the expense of local particularities, such as the adoption of a standardized literary language and the parallel extinction of dialects, be the pattern that is repeated at the level of national languages and the 'global language' that English is now becoming?

To respond to this question, my impression is that in addition to the growing use of a global language, we will also see increased interest in the preservation of local languages and even the standardization of dialects (such as Creoles or "Ebonics"), as a glocalizing response to globalization -- emergent diversity will augment residual diversity in language as in many other cultural forms.

Technologists of many kinds create and use increasingly complex technics that have global implications and also reflect the consequences of globalization. Among them the revolution in human affairs generated by computing, the INTERNET, etc. are notable.

[2O] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its technological dimensions: technological globalization, technoglobal

Wellman: Does the development of the information highway lead to the loss of place-based activities and identities? Or does it actually heighten localism because net surfers are highly bound to their home or office computer desktops? We shall address these questions, using ethnographic, survey and usage-log data from our study of what is probably the most "wired" suburban development in the world, Netville, located in suburban Toronto... Our paper gives a preview of what that wired future may be like in the developed world.

The shift in personal identity created by new technologies supports the following comment:

Teune: The concept of place is a unique location in time and space. For individuals with territorial social and political systems, residences, with the proper names of individuals attached to them, are among the most fixed physical locational coordinates in the world of states. Precise locations in social and now electronic spaces are now also common. Unlike most human-physical spatial coordinates... social and electronic spaces require temporal coordinates, including movement both in time and in physical space. People change jobs, join different organizations, connect to more than one electronic system, and travel. ...most spacial social and physical coordinates are becoming more complex and dynamic for more people.

An interesting example related to language is the growing use of simultaneous translation, a technology that enables persons speaking different languages in real time to communicate with each other. 

[2P] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its educational dimensions: educational globalism, eduglobal 

Bell : Learning has both its local environment and distant environment. The distant environment has become increasingly more global but also more chaotic. The future of a learning society depends more and more on the construction of a world community between and within societies. [it involves] the dynamics of late modernity regarding the globalization of economy and communication, the detraditionalization of social life, and the need for reflexivity in all aspects and stages of life.

Another relevant illustration that stresses the educational implications of globalization can be found in: 

Antikainen:I am referring to a society in which individualization and globalization are simultaneously going on. In this kind of a society preparedness for lifelong learning may well become a constraining challenge.

The neologisms suggested above can be avoided by using phrases , but they can also help us identify a wide range of dimensions of globalization, each of which is highly interdependent on all the others. The important point to emphasize is that globalization includes all these dimensions, plus others not mentioned here. The point is that if we equate any of them with globalization we are reifying, we are thinking of part of something as a whole. In a systemic context, all parts affect the whole and are affected by it. If we see globalization as a holistic process with many dimensions, then each dimension mentioned above has links with all the others.

To see and understand such a vastly complex whole, especially when it has so recently escalated in scope and impact, we need to identify and relate to each of its parts and try to understand their relations with the whole. We also need to see how arbitrary and parochial (based on our Eurocentric world view) are the disciplinary categories we use to identify the parts. I think we have no viable alternative to the use the established disciplines as distorting windows on any concrete system -- especially a global system. If we think of this conventional perspective as provisional, can we not also remain sensitive to the likelihood that new and more useful categories will present themselves and we should then be able to jettison old concepts in favor of better and more useful ones. As a start, however, we can begin by using familiar notions as a kind of scaffold on which to construct a new edifice that can more suitably represent globalization as a holistic process or system.


[NOTE: See the alphabetical index of terms and the classification of concepts.]

Some important concepts can help us see links between all the dimensions of globalization identified above are the generic notions of function and structure. Sometimes we combine these two notions in a single term, structural/functional, but here let me separate them and speak separately about each.

#3A*. Functions. Looking back at the texts offered in [1a.1] and [1a.2], we can see that they are incomplete -- they specify a process without mentioning what the process is. To complete these defining texts we need to add a phrase that will read something like "a global process." This phrase contains two words, each of which limits the applicability of the other. More specifically, global specifies a context and process many related functions, i.e., relationships between different items.

Among such relationships is a crucial one involving causes and effects -- however, we need to view them as continuously interactive or circular rather than as linear. That is to say, we are less interested in looking at the "causes" of globalization and its "consequences" as independent variables, than in seeing how they are interdependent. Usually two complementary processes occur interactively: a given cause produces some effects, but these effects, reciprocally, influence their causes. Our preoccupation with "independent" and "dependent" variables reflects an underlying linear way of thinking that hampers any understanding of globalization. Nevertheless, we also need to see how the opposite sides of a circle flow into each other. This means that it is still useful to think about what "causes" and "results" from globalization. We already have a convenient term for the causal processes which we may think of as globalizing, normally viewed as an intransitive verb, but Sonntag cites its transitive use, as in the phrase, "We [in the West] will globalize you [in the Third World]" -- will this term replace "westernizing"? She views globalizing as: 

Sonntag: ...an on-going historical process that is reaching its apex toward the end of the 20th century. This process leads to the increasing integration of the production of goods, services, ideas, culture, communication and environmental pollution on a world-wide scale, impacting the locality of populations and labor. The political response (e.g., World Trade Organization, NAFTA, IMF/World Bank) to this integration by governments (national, sub-national and international) is frequently at variance with the social response of civil society (e.g., changing social constructions of identity, points of resistance among subaltern groups), often leading to violence and war.

The responses Sonntag mentions as feed-back reactions or some consequences of globalization lack any convenient designator. No doubt the phrase, consequences of globalization, can be viewed as a tag for the process, and if we were to use it often, we might create an acronym like COG to designate it. I prefer a short phrase like global impact or even a coinage like globalating. This neologism can easily be formed by using -ateas a verbal suffix, a form familiar in such words as separate, precipitate, and eventuate. If we were willing to accept to globalateas a verb meaning to produce something as a result of globalization, we could then conveniently say that globalizing and globalating are the complementary and interactive aspects of globalization, each being continuously affected by the other. If the word offends, however, we may continue to look for other words -- the important point is that we need to recognize and examine the continuously interactive cause/effect functions of globalization. Moreover, it is important to recognize the dynamics of such interactions -- they may provoke negative (backwash) effects as in vicious circles or enhance positive (spread) effects as in benign circles.*

Perhaps some examples will clarify this point: the INTERNET is clearly a technoglobalizing cause of globalization, but its widespread use is also a technoglobating consequence. The ability of individuals located anywhere in the world to communicate across state boundaries quickly and efficiently enhances their ability to affect global processes, while simultaneously these processes promote the development and use of cyberspace.

Parallels can be found in pre-modern times. Jerry Bentley, for example, points out text that the invention of sailing ships was historically globalizing. He could have added that the expansion of commerce and migration made possible by sailing ships also had the effect of causing more such ships to be built and sailed. However, the fact that globalization involves the concurrent and interactive processes (causes and effects) of globalizing and globalating does not mean that we ought to obscure these complementary functions -- indeed, to understand globalization we need to be able to think about how they functions reciprocally affect each other.

Consider, for example, the phenomena already discussed under the heading of another neologism, glocalization. This term has already gained moderate acceptance as a portmanteau word that somehow links the global with the local. However, we are not always very clear about how they are linked. I see them as having an interactive cause/effect relationships. These relationships arise in virtually all the dimensions specified above. Consider, for example, how technoglobalizing and technoglobalating reciprocally affect the global and local. I mention the INTERNET yet many other technologies could equally well be analyzed in this context, in association with each of the global dimensions. Consider, for example, the ethnoglobal concerns of indigenous peoples who, for generations, found themselves isolated as helpless victims of colonizing conquerors. Today they are mobilizing as a result of globalating forces that enable them to understand and deal with their plight by means of new technologies, including the use of the INTERNET to enable them to establish working relations with many other indigenous communities widely scattered throughout the world. One advantage of mentioning the INTERNET is that readers can very easily find examples to see how this is happening. Go, for North American examples, to Native Americans ; and see Indigenous Studies for a global view of their web sites.

Since sites on the INTERNET are cross-linked in many channels, it may not make much difference where one starts -- eventually, a vast canvas will unroll in which one can see how innumerable indigenous communities are now articulating their activities and concerns and linking them with the parallel interests of other indigenous communities, something they could scarcely ever do with more conventional technics. They are now able, to offer inputs to the network based on their local situation and, reciprocally, they are affected by what they learn about the parallel concerns of other communities. These concerns involve all the dimensions noted above -- political, social, cultural, health, psychological, linguistic, environmental, religious, etc. Just as each affects the others, so every indigenous locality contributes a globalizing thrust, and receives globalating influences. Perhaps we do not need to distinguish them from each other because, as a pattern or process, they are part of a seamless cause/effect interactive flood.

These processes can also be viewed from many perspectives, the interactive disciplinary dimensions. In the econoglobal perspective, for example, consider how individual entrepreneurs and professionals, working at home, can participate in the development, production, distribution, and consumption of an infinitely wide array of goods and services distributed throughout the world. Political activists involved in every possible cause and public policy issue are able to find sympathizers anywhere in the world, join forces with them to fight their causes and, of course, to be influenced by others who share their concerns. At the psychoglobal level, individuals can now become socialized by globalating forces and resources, starting at an early age, so as to develop all kinds of personal interests, skills, perspectives, activities that, in turn, enable them to become globalizing influences anywhere in the world, making use of the INTERNET in conjunction with a growing range of our resources to promote their personal and social interests or concerns. Web Sites could be listed here to provide vivid examples of all these dimensions and levels of interaction, but it would be tediously redundant to do so here. Perhaps a more concrete approach oriented to a specific problem would better illustrate globalization as a continuously interactive phenomenon.

A current television documentary focuses attention on the situation in one American village that has long suffered from a lack of medical services caused by the reluctance of American physicians to locate themselves in rural localities both because they risk encounters with baffling health problems and because they expect to receive less income than they could secure in more urban settings. Hospitals and clinics that offer a wealth of technical and professional resources enable them to feel better about themselves and to make more money.

To help overcome this problem, the U.S. government adopted a policy which permitted foreign students who had come to medical schools in the United States to extend their visas if they would accept appointments in rural and inner city settings generally avoided by American physicians. In the documentary we meet an Indian doctor who has graciously and effectively served a remote rural community -- he want to remain and his community is eager for him to stay on, but the American Medical Association increasingly presses for restrictions that will enhance opportunities for their members who allegedly now have difficulty finding suitable appointments and would willingly go to localities now served by foreign doctors. Such a simple situation raises a host of questions that link the local and global in a functional complex. The vitaglobal implications involving medical and health questions around the world are only the most conspicuous aspects of this story which ignores such matters as how traditional health practices interface with modern medicine.

The political and legal issues concern the rights and limitations of foreign professionals working outside their original homelands, and they link localities with state and national governments and inter-governmental agencies such as the World Health Organization. The econoglobal aspects concern the conditions of employment of professionals working in different countries and localities, as well as the availability of health services to people living in diverse settings. The documentary pointed to intra-American aspects of this story but one might equally look to the consequences in India where the loss of health professionals because of the brain drain might also be studied.

The ethnoglobal aspect arises from issues affecting cross-cultural relations between locals and foreigners living in city slums and parochial villages. The documentary, incidentally, portrays these relations as universally harmonious. The psychoglobal dimensions could be explored by looking at the personal lives of both the foreign doctors and their patients as they interact over long periods. A sociologist might invoke the pattern variables identified by Talcott Parsons to see how universalistic or particularistic, how specific or diffuse, how ascriptive or achievement oriented, etc. are the behaviors found in such situations. No doubt a post-modernist would be able to deconstruct all these simplistic ideas, but if so, what newer notions would be invoked? In the globalist perspective, whatever they may be, they will need to be anchored in the growing interdependence between globalizing and globalating functions in the contemporary world scene.

#3B*. Structures.

Although we normally think of globalization as a planetary phenomenon, that is only because the contemporary world-system has become planetary. When we think of globalization historically, we may turn our attention to a qualitative distinction that can apply to any world-system, no matter how broad or limited its locus might be -- whether a string of Pacific Islands, or a vast Afro-EurAsian continent.

Historically, regardless of locus, globalization has always involved qualitative changes in the relationships among the components of a any world-system. We may think of each such component as a thread, using the metaphor of a fabric to represent the whole. The threads of any world-system, in this sense, include the goods, people, power, information and values (money) that are exchanged by its members. However, these threads may be very loosely woven as in a fish net, or tightly meshed as in a piece of denim. When the main links between China and Rome involved long-distance camel caravans traveling over Central Asia, or junks and dhows sailing the Indian Ocean, we can think of the system as loosely netted or having low density. By contrast, in today's world, air travel and cyberspace permit the modern network of global linkages to be extremely dense. Of course, these are contraries, not contradictories -- any system can be more or less dense, a variable with many intermediate degrees and while the polar extremes are rare.

The point, of course, is that globalization can refer not only to the geographic extent of a world-system, but also the degree of density of interactions within its glocus. Pulsations within a world-system may be associated with increasing and decreasing density of interactions as a function, perhaps, of rising and falling hegemonies. I don' want to discuss any such substantive propositions here, however. Rather, the conceptual point that contemporary globalization involves not only the planetization of our world-system but also a gigantic leap in the density of its interactions. This may be associated with de-hegemonization -- but that's not a question I'm prepared to debate.

The conceptual point is that, in addition to the global scale of contemporary globalization, we need to think about its functional density -- how loosely or tightly woven are the threads in its fabric. We may well assume that although contemporary globalization is marked by its planetary scale, this is not unique, having existed at least since the 16thcentury. More significantly, the contemporary world-system is composed of threads that are more and more tightly interwoven. We need to think about the degrees of density of interactions within a world-system, but what words are available to help us. Could we, for example, speak of inter-globalization? Unfortunately, this term suggest interactions between systems rather than between the parts of a system. Could we use juxtapose, a verb that means "to place close together"? If so, we might use the form, juxtawhich, in Latin, means "side by side" to create a neologism, juxtaglo, to refer to the degree of density of the components of a global system.

We do need to distinguish between the geographic scale of any world-system and the degree of density of interactions among its components -- and globalizationmay carry both connotations but its main sense is that of locus, the planetary extent of its domain. However, much more importantly in today's world, the degree of interactiveness of the interwoven threads of contemporary life may well be a far more significant feature. To highlight this feature of contemporary globalization, could we not add this concept: 

[3A] the extent to which the components of a global system are interwoven: juxtaglo

The increasing juxtaposition of factors as globalization increases is recognized in the following excerpt from the announcement of the

Bielefeld Prize:The growing simultaneity of world events creates new forms of social dynamics on a global scale, including financial markets, the spreading of innovations, public opinion, international politics, and life styles. These again affect national and local structures and create new opportunities through channels often unknown and poorly analyzed.

To extend our vocabulary for talking about how juxtaglobal (densely compacted) a world-system is, we might add another variable to talk about the quality of interactions, using conflict and harmony as polar opposites. In some cases, densely interactive elements are harmoniously meshed, but by contrast, they can be tightly locked in violent struggles. We sometimes think of organize as a verb connoting interactive qualities: thus to organize is to link elements in a manageable pattern or structure, whereas to disorganize involves antagonistic or chaotic relationships. It is easy enough to conceptual the ideal types of a world order (as in an organized world federation) and world disorder (as in pervasive anarchy). As noted above, however, these are contraries (not contradictories). In the real world we typically find intermediate conditions of (dis)organization, and this seems to me to characterize our contemporary world system. In other words, contemporary globalization involves a mixture of order and disorder. How shall we think and talk about it?

Until the 1990s, and so long as state-centered images of the world system seemed reasonable, we could and did conceptualize the world as a multi-state system that could be multi-polar, bi-polar, or unipolar in structure. These terms presupposed the salience of states and ignored non-state actors, but since the end of the Cold War and the rise of non-state ethnic nations, to say nothing of multi-national corporations, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, and powerful cross-national gangs, we have come to see the world as a more complex mixture of different kinds of entities, only some of which are states. We can also see that although most of their interactions involve cooperation based on negotiated agreements and mutual accommodation, many tense conflicts also arise although, I believe, none of them will involve "world (global) wars," such as we have experience in the recent past.

The available polar contrasts -- order and anarchy -- do not provide useful options to talk about the contemporary (and probable future) condition of our world-system. Perhaps instead we should think about order andanarchy -- how can we represent systems in which they are mixed?

Even the words that suggest mixtures -- hybrid, pluralism, diversity, blend, medley, potpourri, stew, etc. -- all have other meanings and suggest random rather than structured disorder. We need, I think, a concept that suggests

[3B] a global pattern of densely juztaposed structures able to negotiate agreements for mutual accommodation but vulnerable to endemic disorder wherever conflicting interests lead to violent conflict: syntropy.

This seems to be what Martin Albrow had in mind, as reflected in the following text from

Mlinar: [Albrow] ...introduces the concept of the "Global Age" as an age of globality, that is, a new level of organization "to which any agent can relate, but which has no organising agent... Yet the lack of central organisation is not disintegration." (p.121).

It seems to me that this concept aptly characterizes today's global system and is likely to remain relevant for an indefinite period. It could evolve toward a more highly organized world federation with the ever-present risk of world tyranny, or toward a more loosely structured world disorder marked by endemic violence and anarchy. Clearly a syntropic global system has many positive and negative characteristics, it represents the contemporary world-in-place rather than an imaginary world-in-theory. As such it gives us a way to talk about the internal structures of globalization rather than its planetary locus. It may also give us a tool to help put our thoughts and wishes about the world into a more helpful perspective. Something like this is involved in the following text:

Mlinar: Globalization implies both increasing autonomy of actors in terms of their expanding range of choice as well as increasing dependency on society as a whole. The autonomy of actors increases as their independence decreases. In other words, the process of globalization implies the transition from autonomy with exclusion (autarchy) to autonomy with inclusion [capability].

Another way to think about such apparent contradictions is to focus on the parameters rather than the consequences of globalization: the enhanced technological capabilities of today's world means that the capacity of individuals and groups to act in highly differentiated (diversified) ways is simultaneously subject to the growing restraints imposed by interdependence and the need for discipline -- apparently contradictory results are necessary consequences of a single cause. Our world-system became planetary in the 16th century, but it has become juxtaglobal (densely interactive) only since the elaboration of electronics and the development of the INTERNET. It would have been easier to identify the distinctive features of the contemporary phase of globalization if we had not used "global" or even "planetary" as descriptive metaphors. Those who think of recent developments as a product of the "information" revolution are on a better track, but even that notion may suggest too limited a perspective. The information revolution has, I think, supported a far more densely juxtaposed structure of all social relationships in the contemporary world than whatever happened earlier. Actually, I would prefer a term based on syntropy-- a "syntropic world-system," perhaps?


[NOTE: See the alphabetical index of terms and the classification of concepts.]

Concepts relating to globalization are affected by our way of looking at the world, something that can be distinguished from the properties of whatever we see, or think we see. Sometimes we make this distinction by using the words subjective and objective. In all of the comments on globalization up to this point I have assumed that it is possible to be objective, that what we are looking at really exists and that we are talking about events and phenomena to be found in the real world. As cynics has protested since ancient times and post-modernists continue to remind us, our own conditions, interests, biases and preconceptions continuously shape our perceptions -- we see what we want to see and hate what may seem to be averse to our interests. All that has been said about different ways of understanding the locus, dimensions and functions of globalization can be questioned, "deconstructed," and reinterpreted as subjective opinions and groundless beliefs. Before completing our survey of concepts relating to globalization, therefore, we need to take into account several kinds of overlapping perspectives that deeply influence the way we understand whatever phenomena we may be looking at.

 Let us look at each of these perspectives or points of view separately and then ask how they affect each other.

#4A*. The Ontological Dimension.

Subjectively speaking, there are two important ways to think about what we see and understand about the world: the deductive and the inductive. The first relies heavily on reasoning, on syllogisms and logic, to link ideas into patters that appear to us to have some explanatory import.

The philosophical term, ontology, may help us here -- it is concerned with questions about existence, about appearances as contrasted with reality. Those who emphasize deductive reasons are likely to construct ideal types, viewed as models or constructs that help us understand the world. By contrast, those who stress inductive analysis are disposed to begin with observations and try to combine them in patters that help them see and explain phenomena in the real world.

Without trying to explain all the subtleties of ontology and metaphysics, perhaps we can use a simplistic impression of this notion to help us grasp important concepts of globalization. Some, like ideal types, are socially constructed images about the world and what is happening to it. They relay heavily on possibilities and idealizations and tend to exaggerate our hopes and fears. Optimists construct ideal types of a globalizing world as something that can fulfil their hopes and make the world a better place for all of us. By contrast, pessimists are likely to construct nightmare visions of horrible scenarios in which our worst fears are actualized. However, ideal types can also be quite neutral: a familiar example is the notion of a circle which, as defined in Geometry, is an ideal type, but as drawn on a page is a reality. Hopefully, there is some resemblance between the two, but normally the visible circle on a page has imperfections that do not characterize the invisible notion of a circle as an abstract concept. 

Misina:I make an argument for a two-fold distinction [involving] the concept of globalization - on the one hand, globalization as a substantive and, on the other, globalization as a conceptual phenomenon. Broadly, globalization as the substantive phenomenon refers to a set of social, political, economic, and cultural processes ...which have given rise to ever increasing interconnectedness and interdependence of the world, to its transformation from the world-in-itself to the world-for-itself; as a conceptualphenomenon, globalization has to do with various forms of interpreting, or theorizing...[about] the process of constituting the world as a single, global place, or a global field.

Misina's distinction parallels the dichotomy between ideal and real types: both advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, ideal types can be clear and logical, easy to understand and pleasant to work with. On the negative side, however, they often ignore what seems illogical and are therefore often misleading when applied to real world situations. By contrast, the complexities of empirical data often defy simple explanations and confront us with paradoxes that are hard to explain and render real world images inconsistent and contradictfory. This, of course, seriously hampers efforts to construct understandable images based on empirical observations. Apparent inconsistencies lead our pictures of the real world to look like a collage of incongruously assembled pictures and objects. Because it is hard to generalize about such productions and we cannot easily determine what logic governs the relationships among its elements, we tend to dismiss them as irrational and inconclusive.

Ideal types fit well into nomothetic reasoning, supporting rational syllogisms and theory development. By contrast, descriptive pictures of the real world can more easily be understood as idiographic productions, interesting by themselves but not readily utilized in theory development, testing, and prediction. Both the nomothethic perspectives associated with deductive reasoning and ideal types and the idiographic viewpoints linked with inductive observations are needed, I think, to help us understand the phenomena of globalization. However, we need to be clear about these differences, how they can actually reinforce and test each other, and for that reason we also need terms that clearly distinguish between them. Such considerations lead me to suggest a further addition to our vocabulary as follows:

[4A.1 A nomothetic (deductive) construction of the realities and problems of globalization: protoglo, globalization as an ideal type

[4A.2 An idiographic (inductive) construction of the realities and problems of globalization: factoglo, globalization as a picture of reality

The two neologisms suggested here are equivalents for cumbersome phrases. Protoglo uses proto-, a prefix that means "first" or "minimal" item in a series; and factoglobal rather arbitrarily uses facto- although it is not an established combining form. However, it does suggest both "fact" and "factor", each of which is relevant: facts because they provide the basis for inductive constructions, and factors as elements or building blocks in such a construction. Anyone unhappy with these forms can, of course, use the phrases mentioned here instead.

The proposed dichotomy should not, of course, be exaggerated. We may view these two concepts as contraries that can be combined to form mixed conceptually mixed notions. Perhaps, in fact, we are more likely to mix the two ways of perceiving globalization, yet it helps us to understand what we are doing if we keep these contrasted perspectives in mind.

#4B*. The Normative Dimension.

The utility of these contrasting orientations becomes more evident when we think about their links with the normative dimensions of our thoughts about globalization. Complex empirical (inductive, idiographic) notions are typically ambivalent in the sense that they always suggest both good and bad aspects. By contrast, hypothetical (deductive, nomothetic) ideal types are especially vulnerable to wishful thinking.

Traditionally, we view "heaven" as an ideal type reflecting stereotypes about what we think of as desirable, whereas our ideas about "hell" depict images of everything that is abominable. Both perspectives apply to our understandings about globalization.

Both of these perspectives are implicit in the final sentence of Tehranian's text which tells us that we can think of globalization as both a positive and negative process -- it has good and bad consequences. 

He writes: From a humanist perspective, globalization entails both positive and negative consequences: it is both narrowing and widening the income gaps among and within nations, intensifying and diminishing political domination, and homogenizing and pluralizing cultural identities.

When we think of globalization as a real world phenomenon, we see that it has many consequences, some that we like and others that we dislike. However, whenever we have the ideal types in mind, we are more likely to view the whole process of globalization as a good or a bad thing. The following text points to this distinction. 

Koc:[As a ] "process" of expansion of commodity relations on a global scale, globalization is not new but only intensified in recent decades. What is new about globalization is its entry into our daily language as an expression of "reality." In this sense, I argue that globalization is not only a process but also a discourse, defining, describing, and analyzing that process. I point out the neo-conservative ideology as the most prevalent influence in this discursive debate.

This brings us to the role of ideologies in our thinking. Ideologies may be viewed as a body of doctrines, beliefs and myths which inform our attitudes and actions. This concept enables us to understand why those who view globalization ideologically tend to see it as, inherently, either a good or a bad thing. They will, therefore, have contradictory notions about what the word represents -- while some will welcome it as a desirable outcome, others will condemn it as a disaster. By contrast, those who contemplate globalization as an empirical matter are more likely to understand that the phenomenon has both positive and negative consequences. Our texts provide examples of all these orientations but, without a vocabulary for distinguishing between them, we can easily understand these contradictories as incompatible with each other whereas, I believe, they simply reflect the contrasting views of people who are talking about different things -- some define globalization as an inherently desirable pattern, others think of it as an undesirable pattern, and some also speak of globalization as an historical process that has many consequences, some good and others bad.

Most of the authors in our collection, I think, are inclined to view globalization empirically as a complex process with ambivalent consequences, and for them the following notions should make sense:

[4B.1] the effects of globalization: globalation

[4B.10] the positive effects of globalization: orthoglobalation

[4B.19] the negative effects of globalization: negaglobalation

The term, globalation, was introduced above as a neologism that could be used to represent all the consequences, both good and bad, of globalization. Here I am suggesting that since such effects may be seen as positive or negative, it would be useful to have terms for these contraries -- in their adjectival forms, we might represent them as orthoglobal and negaglobal. We use ortho- as a combining form to represent right or correct, as in orthodox and orthodontics. By contrast, para- is used for the negative side-effects of something, as in paramour, paranoia, paraphilia, parapraxis, parasite, and parataxis. Some or our texts illustrate the uses of this concept. 

Jussaume: Increasingly, globalization is being used to conceptualize ongoing transformations in agro-food production systems. One focus of this research is to understand linkages between global and local level social changes.... The evidence presented demonstrates that in Japan, large private firms are slowly beginning to expand their presence in agricultural commodity production. This "globalization"[negaglobalation] of Japanese agriculture is associated with a weakening of rural socioeconomic infrastructures. In order to address the global dimension of these problems, it is suggested that local communities in different national settings should explore avenues for communicating more with one another in order to develop appropriate response strategies. Cuales: 1. the fact that 'global society' now, as was 'the State' before, is referred to as if it has neither a gender position nor a class position. 2. the 'new' option for ex-colonies to be ruled by their previous Colonial State [globalation] in terms of production, trade and services. 3. the disguised strategies applied under the guise of a global bloc (EU, MERCOSUR, etc.) to control administrative, political, economic and human/social development in the NICS (Non Independent Caribbean States) and the SIDS (Small Island Development States). 

Currie: When most government agencies and politicians are speaking with one voice which suggests that globalization [globalation] practices are the only answer for all nations... When the supranational agencies, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and governments, especially Anglo-American governments, have all been stressing that economies need to be deregulated, social services privatized and governments become smaller in both power and size, it is harder for individuals to think that the Budget shouldn't be balanced, that workers shouldn't be made redundant, that we shouldn't pay for the services the state provides and that taxes shouldn't be raised... These ideas have become almost like common sense and are not easily challenged. Why has there been this acquiescence to the notion of the supremacy of the market? The market is portrayed as neutral, as objective, as out there, free and ungovernable. But is that the true situation?
One form of globalation that has attracted much interest involves its effects at sub-global levels -- regions, localities, individuals -- these have been discussed under the heading of glocalization 

Milani(Unesco/MOST): Four principal features can be counted on to explain the origin of Glocalization: the integration into world markets of national economies; the transition from a "high volume economy" into a "high value economy" (this is due to the growing number of knowledge-intensive products and services) ; the end of bipolarity and the traditional prize-fight between capitalism and socialism; and finally the configuration of new trade blocs .

Nevertheless, Glocalization is neither uniform nor homogenous. There is a marked difference between the degree of Glocalization as reflected in trade, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and international finance. Its boundaries are unclear and its constituent elements and multidimensional character have yet to be adequately explored... The State commonly faces crises of both organisational efficiency towards the consumer and institutional legitimacy towards the citizen .

#4C*.  Paradigmatic Perspectives

1.  Ecologists point out that the physical environments of the world, including all living things, interact with humans as both a cause and consequence of their behavior. The subject is vast and has only in recent years become a major intellectual concern among humans even if they have not yet dignified it as an official discipline. If current trends of air and water pollution, the mining and exploitation of natural resources, and the destruction of wildlife continues, the global environment will be seriously eroded with disastrous consequence for all humans.

[4C.1] the dimension of globalization that focuses on its ecological dimensions: ecological globalization, ecoglobal 

Chase-Dunn. There are at least five different dimensions of globalization that need to be distinguished: common ecological constraints and others.

Viola: ...four main streams of Brazilian Environmentalism in the present decade [include]: Conservative-globalists, Progressive-globalists, Nationalists and Radicals... The Progressive-globalists think that environmental quality is essentially a public good that can only be maintained through: an incisive normative and regulatory intervention of the state complemented with market incentives... The Conservative-globalists are in favor of a predominant use of market mechanisms for environmental protection... The Nationalists distrust institutions of global governance (they consider that interests of rich countries necessarily prevail) and are in favor of the strengthening of the national state...... The Radicals generally reject the state and the market and have a community approach, according to which only organizations of the civil society can have a determining role in order to reach a sustainable society...

2. Evolution.

[4C.2]  the dimension of globalization that focuses on its evolutionary dynamics: evolutionary globalization, evoglobal

[insert quotations here]

In this perspective one assumes that dynamic forces are always at work which generate systematic kinds of change based on competition among peoples, institutions, practices; survival of more functional adaptations; and other natural processes that, in general, tend to make systems more complex and produce recurrent cycles.  This approach involves circular causation with feedback mechanisms, negative and positive, that may lead to equilibrium or run-away collapses.  The evolutionary forces may work at different levels, for any system as a whole, and also for different components or parts of such a system.

3. Chance.  Another set of premises assumes that only random or accidental forces work in history.  It is useless to seek orderly patterns in history -- instead, we may view it as a narrative that can spin itself out in many different ways -- we can describe successions of events and trace movements with some apparent consequences, but ultimately these are all due to indeterminate and unpredictable happenings, mere episodes in a meaningless narrative.  The prefix, epi-, can mean on, over, near, at, after -- thus an episode may be a event in a loosely connected set of events. I cannot think of a better prefix to convey the view of globalization that it's a meaningless process..

[4C.3.]  a perspective on globalization that attributes change to chance and random forces: accidental globalization: epiglobal

4. Teleology.   Assumptions rooted in supernatural forces attribute change in human affairs to divine forces able to impose their will upon all things and to achieve goals by means of forces beyond human comprehension. One may only have faith that, in the long rune, truth and justice will prevail over falsehood and injustice.  The prefix, teleo-,suggests design or purpose and could well be used for any perspective that sees globalization as an intended process or outcome.

[4C.4.]  a perspective on globalization that attributes change to supernatural forces that impose their will on human beings. teleoglobal.

#5.  The Ontological/Normative Matrix.

 Since our understanding of the relation between the orthoglobal and the negaglobal hinges on our understanding of whether we have an ideal type (protoglo) or a concrete phenomenon (factoglobal) in mind, we can usefully think about a matrix of concepts that links these different ways of understanding the normative dimensions of globalization.

Perhaps the simplest way to visualize these various possibilities is to imagine a simple matrix such as the one shown here:


Positive Consequences: 


Negative Consequences:  


Ideal Type:  





Empirical Reality:  


4B 4B.0 1 2 3 4

5 6 7 8 9 

  In this table, "4A" represents the notion of an ideal type of globalation, by contrast with "4B" standing for empirical realities. Ideal type contrasts involve contradictories -- we tend to conceptualize a phenomenon as inherently good or bad as visualized in the table by positioning "4A.1" and "4A.2" in the middle of their boxes. By contrast, normative distinctions involving real world situations typically involve contraries, not contradictories: that is to say, the empirical consequences of globalation normally range between opposites and most actual situations fall between these extremes as measured by any normal distribution curve -- this is represented here by the scale from 4B.0 to 4B.9, and visually by the placement of these extremes at opposite ends of a continuum linked by various intermediate positions. Thus, when we think off globalization as an ideal type, it is easy to visualize it and to imagine that all its consequences are either good or bad.

When we think in terms of real world situations, by contrast, our vocabulary is often inadequate. It offers convenient terms for opposites without counterparts for modal or median concepts. For example, although we can speak of a glass of water as half full or half empty, we have no specific term for the intermediate and most common situation of being normal. If we referred to a "normal glass of water," we would be misunderstood as talking about the glass rather than what is in it. Were we to quantify the contents of a glass of water on a 0...9 scale, however, we would understand that the normal situation falls between these extremes, but quantification imposes false precision -- can we speak of a glass of water that's "83%" -- percent of what? Full? Empty?

Similarly, to characterize the results of globalization [globalation] as a real world phenomenon, we need to talk about them by reference to the best and worst conditions, not the average, intermediate consequences. Actually, even terms for such middle-range consequences would be misleading because, normally, we have mixtures of good and bad consequences. I have used the term prismatic to characterize cross-pressured or hybrid situations in which the positive and negative dimensions of something are linked. Actually, I think many of the consequences of globalization are deeply prismatic, but I'll not discuss that here -- however, I have recently written about our global system as meta-prismatic.

A text that seems to link an ideal type with strongly negatory evaluations is offered by

Gary Boyd:Globalization is a newspeak word which implies that the dominative actions (jobsassination, monocultural impositions etc.) of the CORPOCRACY are merely the workings out of the ineluctable forces of historical progress. ... But how to educate the public about the wiles of crimepetitive crapitalism when the corpocracy dominates all the media, is problematic indeed.!

One way to avoid taking such positions on the consequences of globalation is to raise questions and ask for evaluations -- at least this keeps our options open and may lead respondents to try to think through complex interdependencies. Consider this text by Wendell Bell as an example: 

Bell:...as the globalization of human societies continues: Who or what will provide the norms and values for world order? What are the appropriate values that will allow all the Earth's peoples to live together in peace and to flourish? How will problems of the global commons that affect us all, such as. . . etc."

Perhaps this is a good place to stop -- as noted bove, the goal of this document is to raise, not answer, questions. It is not even a text, but rather a hypertext -- not something to be read through on paper but, rather, a set of related thoughts and suggestions that need to be viewed on a Web Page where their many links can be activated. Readers are invited to join the interactive process by sending comments directly to the authors of individual texts (using "mailto" forms on the Texts page, or by writing a single message to everyone on GLOBE-L. To see who is included, take a look at the list. Our expectation is that by the time we meet in Montreal at the ISA Congress in July 1998, we will not only have clarified many of the important concepts sheltered under the word, globalization, but also reached some consensus about the tags that can most conveniently be used to represent these concepts.


NOTE: Each concept is linked to a discussion of it in the text. Two kinds of terms are suggested: an explanatory phrase, and (in parentheses) an acronym or short form that might be used. In these forms, glo is used as an abbreviation for globalization, understood as a noun. The adjectival form, global, is retained when appropriate because it is conveniently short. Asterisks provide links to related slides.


1A. Time -- chronological framework

1B. Space -- geographic/locational


(Global is used here to create shorthand terms to refer to any aspect of a world system from the point of view of the discipline named in parentheses -- all aspects affect each other, but any one aspect may be viewed as a starting point for analytic purposes. The adjectival form suggests aspects of a world system rather than different things that could be viewed apart from each other.)


3A*. Processes (Interactions in circular causation -- both causing and resulting from each other and leading to positive or negative trends in world-systems)

-- *all dimensions of world-systems have consequences which, for better or worse, affect all other dimensions and may be viewed as globalating (escalating and de-escalating) forces.

-- all dimensions of world-systems may be viewed as causal forces in the development or underdevelopment of other dimensions and may be viewed as globalizing (positive and negative) forces.

3B*. Density and Structure: the number of threads woven into world-systems and the way they are enmeshed


4A*. Ontological -- the ratio of observed phenomena to socially constructed images that inform our perceptions of them -- probably always combined in some way that seems to make sense

4B*. Normative -- notions about whether a world-system is good or bad, mainly for us as beneficiaries or victims, but also as it affects others -- usually mixed together

4C*. Paradigmatic -- ways of understanding globalization

See a discussion of the logic of this classification


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Updated: 29 July 2000