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globalizationOperating around the world. Although many large companies have globalized for decades, the Web, more than any other phenomenon, has enabled the smallest company to have a global presence. See localization.
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globalizationA mulifaceted process in which the world is becoming more and more interconnected and communication is becoming instanteneous. Aspects of this process include:
- the transformation of the spatial arrangement and organization of social relations involving ‘action at a distance’, a stretching of social relations and transactions (and power), including instantaneous communications across time-space;
- the increasing extensity, intensity, velocity and impact of global social relations and transactions (see Held et al. 1999);
- the creation of new networks and nodes – the ‘network society’ (CASTELLS) – associated with the new levels of dependence on knowledge/ information and ‘expert systems – the ‘information’ or ‘knowledge society’ – as well as the new risks associated with this – RISK SOCIETY;
- a dialect between the global and the local in which (consistent with a dialect of power and the duality of structure) the outcome is not a simple triumph of the centre over the periphery, mere Americanization’, or suchlike (see also MCDONALDIZATION).
As Held et al. (1999) suggest, a ‘vibrant’ ongoing debate exists on the characterization of globalization between three groups of theorists:
- ‘hyperglobalizers’ (e.g. Ohmae 1990; 1995) for whom global marketization is the main driver;
- 'S ceptics’ (notably Hirst and Thompson 1996a and b), who play down the level and distinctiveness of the change;
- ‘transformationalists’, including GIDDENS, for whom globalization is a distinctive new phase such that societies and states across the globe are experiencing profound social as well as economic changes – a ‘massive shake-out’ of social relations, economies, governance and politics – as they seek to adapt to an increasingly interconnected but also unpredictable and uncertain world.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000