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About this book

A systematically revised and updated new edition of a highly acclaimed text which was an immediate bestseller on courses around the world. The second edition takes a broader perspective giving increased coverage of other dimensions of globalization alongside its core focus on the rise of supraterritoriality which, the author argues, is globalization's most distinctive feature.

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

‘We don’t know what globalization is, but we have to act!’ So spoke a peasant activist in Thailand recently (Sopa, 2002). His exclamation — where conviction meets uncertainly to yield frustration — well epitomizes current knowledge and politics of globalization. It is impossible to avoid the issue, but difficult to specify what it involves. Concerned citizens feel a need to respond, but most are unclear how. Globalization is regularly characterized as one of the greatest challenges before humankind today, but what is to be done about it?
Jan Aart Scholte

Framework of Analysis


Chapter 1. Globalization Debates

  • globalization is a thoroughly contested subject
  • many of the disputes relate to starting premises regarding the definition, measurement, chronology and explanation of globalization
  • other debates concern the ways and extents that globalization has or has not changed society, including its primary structures of production, governance, identity and knowledge
  • additional arguments centre on normative evaluations of globalization, namely, whether it enhances or undermines human security, social equality and democracy
  • further disagreements revolve around policy responses to globalization, in particular between neoliberalist, rejectionist, reformist and transformist strategies
Jan Aart Scholte

Chapter 2. Defining Globalization

  • general notions of global-ness have a long history, but talk of ‘giobality’ (the condition) and ‘globalization’ (the trend) has mainly arisen since 1980
  • a clear and precise definition of the global is crucial to advance both knowledge and policy in contemporary society
  • when taken to mean internationalization, liberalization, universalization or westernization, ideas of globalization reveal little new and can have objectionable political implications
  • important new insight is provided when globalization is understood in spatial terms as the spread of transplanetary — and in recent times more particularly supraterritorial — connections between people
  • globality in the sense of transworld connectivity is manifested across multiple areas of social life, including communication, travel, production, markets, money, finance, organizations, military, ecology, health, law and consciousness
  • notions of globalization as the rise of transplanetary and supraterritorial links between people need to be carefully qualified in order to avoid globalist excesses
Jan Aart Scholte

Chapter 3. Globalization in History

  • when understood as transworld connectivity, globality has figured (at least marginally and in prototypical forms) in human history for centuries
  • transplanetary relations, including some with supraterritorial qualities, experienced growth to unprecedented levels from around the middle of the nineteenth century
  • the main, greatly accelerated rise of globality, including pronounced supraterritorial aspects, has occurred since the middle of the twentieth century
Jan Aart Scholte

Chapter 4. Explaining Globalization

  • explanations of globalization can be approached through a number of theoretical frameworks, including liberalism, political realism, Marxism, constructivism, postmodernism, and feminism
  • each of these perspectives offers insights into the dynamics that have propelled globalization, but each is also overly narrow, missing important aspects of the process
  • an eclectic approach that interlinks developments in geography (like globalization) with trends in production, governance, identity and knowledge offers a more encompassing explanation
Jan Aart Scholte

Change and Continuity


Chapter 5. Globalization and Production: From Capitalism to Hypercapitalism

  • intense globalization of the past half-century has substantially strengthened the position of capitalism as the prevailing world structure of production
  • the growth of transplanetary social spaces has helped to increase surplus accumulation in areas such as primary production and heavy industry, while in addition facilitating the extension of commodification to consumer, finance, information, communications, genetic, atomic and care sectors
  • the expansion of transworld links has encouraged significant shifts in the organization of capitalism, including the rise of offshore centres, global companies, corporate mergers and acquisitions, and oligopoly
Jan Aart Scholte

Chapter 6. Globalization and Governance: From Statism to Polycentrism

  • contemporary large-scale and accelerated globalization has rendered the statist mode of governance non-viable and encouraged the emergence of polycentric (multi-sited and networked) regulation
  • states remain crucial nodes in this polycentric governance, although globalization has spurred several important shifts in their attributes
  • globalization has opened considerable possibilities for substate (municipal and provincial) authorities to engage directly with realms beyond their state
  • inadequacies of the state as a sole site for governance of global relations have promoted a growth of suprastate (macro-regional and transworld) sites of regulation
  • dominant neoliberalist policy frameworks in contemporary globalization have encouraged a major expansion of private sites of governance
  • civil society activity has followed the trend from statism to polycentrism by shifting its focus from the state alone to a multi-scalar diffuse governance apparatus
Jan Aart Scholte

Chapter 7. Globalization and Identity: From Nationalism to Hybridization

  • contemporary globalization has helped to undermine the previous nearmonopolistic position of state-nations in the construction of collective identities
  • globalization has encouraged the growth of national identities on scales other than the state, in respect of substate, macro-regional and transworld spheres
  • the spread of transplanetary relations has encouraged some rise in universal-cosmopolitan attachments to humanity as a whole
  • the growth of transworld spaces has facilitated the development of various nonterritorial identities inter alia on lines of faith, class, gender and race
  • pluralization of identities in the context of globalization has increased tendencies of hybridization
Jan Aart Scholte

Chapter 8. Globalization and Knowledge: From Rationalism to Reflexivity

  • contemporary globalization has not substantially weakened the hold of rationalism on the social construction of knowledge, although some rationality has become more reflexive
  • the rise of transplanetary connectivity has encouraged some growth in anti-rationalist knowledges like religious revivalism, ecocentrism and postmodernism
  • the growth of transworld relations has promoted some shifts in ontology, methodology and aesthetics
Jan Aart Scholte

Normative and Policy Issues


Chapter 9. Globalization and (In)Security

  • globalization has had important repercussions for various facets of human security: military, ecological, physiological, economic, psychological and cultural
  • on all of these dimensions contemporary globalization has had both positive and negative consequences
  • in each case globalization has not been the sole source of human (in)security, but one of multiple interrelated factors
  • negative impacts of contemporary globalization on human security have generally resulted not from the growth of transplanetary connectivity as such, but from the policies (often along neoliberalist lines) that have been adopted toward the trend
Jan Aart Scholte

Chapter 10. Globalization and (In)Equality

  • globalization has had impacts on various types of social stratification, including with respect to class, country, gender, race, urban/rural divides, age and (dis)ability
  • although contemporary globalization has helped to narrow social hierarchies in certain respects, in other ways the process has tended to widen structural gaps in life chances
  • these inequalities are not inherent to globalization, but have mainly flowed from prevailing policy approaches to transplanetary connections
Jan Aart Scholte

Chapter 11. Globalization and (Un)Democracy

  • the conventional framework of liberal democracy, with its focus on national self-determination through a territorial state, is not an adequate formula for ‘rule by the people’ in the polycentric governance of a more global world
  • widespread ignorance among citizens about globalization and its governance has severely restricted the possibilities for democratic regulation of transplanetary relations
  • across state, substate, suprastate and private regulatory institutions, the decision-taking processes that govern globalization have shown major shortfalls of public participation and accountability • deeply entrenched structural inequalities (along the various lines discussed in Chapter 10) have highly skewed opportunities of citizen involvement in the governance of contemporary globalization
Jan Aart Scholte

Chapter 12. (Re)constructing Future Globalizations

  • a policy strategy that combines ambitious reformism with cautious transformism offers the most promising way forward in respect of contemporary globalization
  • various specific initiatives (ranging from personal lifestyle changes to global public policies) can improve the outcomes of globalization in regard to human security, social equality and democracy
  • current circumstances pose both opportunities and obstacles for implementation of these measures
Jan Aart Scholte



To boil a dozen chapters down to half a dozen sentences, this critical introduction to globalization has advanced the following replies to the core questions that were set out in its introduction:
In terms of definition, the term globalization reveals most about social relations when it is understood as the spread of transplanetary (and in contemporary times also increasingly supraterritorial) connections between people.
In terms of chronology, accelerated and intense growth of transplanetary and supraterritorial connectivity has mainly occurred over the past fifty years.
In terms of causation, globalization can be explained in terms of a world-systemic dynamic in which the expansion of transplanetary and supraterritorial spaces has interrelated with certain turns in capitalist production, bureaucratic governance, identity politics, and rationalist knowledge.
In terms of social continuity and change, the past half-century of heightened globalization has involved important reconfigurations of geography, economy, polity, identity and knowledge, albeit that territoriality, older forms of capital, the state, the nation, and modern rationality still figure crucially in contemporary life.
In terms of normative concerns, recent speedy growth of global relations has, next to some important benefits, also significantly undermined human security, social equality and democracy.
In terms of policy responses, a politics that combines ambitiously reformist and cautiously transformist measures can substantially reduce potential harms and greatly increase potential gains of heightened transplanetary connectivity in the twenty-first century.
Jan Aart Scholte
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