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Globalisation refers to the worldwide phenomenon of technological, economic, political and cultural exchanges, brought about by modern communication, transportation and legal infrastructure as well as the political choice to consciously open cross-border links in international trade and finance. It is a term used to describe how human beings are becoming more intertwined with each other around the world economically, politically, and culturally. Although these links are not new, they are more pervasive than ever before.


Globalisation as internationalisation. Here globalisation is viewed ’as simply another adjective to describe cross-border relations between countries’. It describes the growth in international exchange and interdependence. With growing flows of trade and capital investment there is the possibility of moving beyond an inter-national economy,  (where ’the principle entities are national economies’) to a ’stronger’ version - the globalised economy in which, ’distinct national economies are subsumed and rearticulated into the system by international processes and transactions’ (Hirst and Peters 1996: 8 and 10).


Globalisation as liberalisation. In this broad set of definitions, ’globalisation’ refers to ’a process of removing government-imposed restrictions on movements between countries in order to create an "open", "borderless" world economy’ (Scholte 2000: 16). Those who have argued with some success for the abolition of regulatory trade barriers and capital controls have sometimes clothed this in the mantle of ’globalization’.


Globalisation as universalisation. In this use, ’global’ is used in the sense of being ’worldwide’ and ’globalisation’  is ’the process of spreading various objects and experiences to people at all corners of the earth’. A classic example of this would be the spread of computing, television etc.


Globalisation as westernisation or modernisation (especially in an ’Americanised’ form). Here ’globalisation’ is understood as a dynamic, ’whereby the social structures of modernity (capitalism, rationalism, industrialism, bureaucratism, etc.) are spread the world over, normally destroying pre-existent cultures and local self-determination in the process.  


Globalisation as deterritorialisation (or as the spread of supraterritoriality). Here ’globalization’ entails a ’reconfiguration of geography, so that social space is no longer wholly mapped in terms of territorial places, territorial distances and territorial borders. Anthony Giddens’ has thus defined globalization as ’ the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa. (Giddens 1990: 64). David Held et al (1999: 16) define globalisation as a ’ process (or set of processes) which embodies a transformation in the spatial organisation of social relations and transactions - assessed in terms of their extensity, intensity, velocity and impact - generating transcontinental or inter-regional flows and networks of activity’.

Woman waking up on a sidewalk in Bijapur, India. Photo by: Claude Renault, 2005