Everyone knows that the economy is important, but few of us understand why. In the main, social workers (like most people) are not necessarily as informed as perhaps they should be about the economic context in which they practice, a deficit which this chapter attempts to remedy if only to a very limited extent. It does so within a framework drawn from the discipline of political economy. I have located the discussion within this body of analysis so as to make clear the institutional linkages between economics and politics, a theme which constitutes the substance of this and the next chapter. Much of what I consider here is related to the ubiquitous processes of economic globalization, which in recent times have taken on heightened significance and are of great consequence because of the institutional effects within state systems around the world. Reverberating out to the subject populations of virtually all states, economic globalization brings diverse populations in equally diverse regions of the world into the realm of a common global dynamic. The consequences for different nations, however, vary drastically.
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