‘International’ has a range of meanings. It can refer to how practices vary within and between countries. It can also relate to supra ways of operating which transcend national boundaries and which seek to establish international frameworks and codes of rights. There is also the all-pervasive, yet somewhat elusive, concept of globalisation to consider. In this chapter, the significance of these varied meanings will be reviewed in order to place into perspective international viewpoints that are associated both with the emergence of groupings of service users, carers and patients and with issues concerning ‘involvement’. As a corollary to this discussion, this chapter will also provide details of how social issues are affected by context. This will facilitate an exploration of the orientations operating and the implications of these for policy and practice in the international arena. Globalisation is generally seen in economic terms as the promotion and expansion of business opportunities and the opening up of world markets. However, it also relates to the transfer of ideas, ideologies, policies and practices. The direction of travel and the resultant ethical, social, cultural and economic implications are areas that have generated, and will continue to generate, fierce debate. Giddens made a significant contribution in 1990 when he highlighted the ways in which the generalised reframing of economic and social principles was having a concomitant effect on populations, families and individuals.
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