COMPETING CONCEPTIONS OF GLOBALIZATION

Leslie Sklair

Abstract


Globalization is a relatively new idea in the social sciences, although people who work in and write about the mass media, transnational corporations and international business have been using it for some time. The purpose of this paper is to critically review the ways in which sociologists and other social scientists use ideas of globalization and to evaluate the fruitfulness of these competing conceptions. The central feature of the idea of globalization is that many contemporary problems cannot be adequately studied at the level of nation-states, that is, in terms of each country and its inter-national relations. Instead, they need to be conceptualized in terms of global processes. Some have even gone so far as to predict that global forces, by which they usually mean transnational corporations and other global economic institutions, global culture or globalizing belief systems/ideologies of various types, or a combination of all of these, are becoming so powerful that the continuing existence of the nation-state is in serious doubt. This is not a necessary consequence of most theories of globalization. The argument of this paper is that much of the globalization literature is confused because not all those who use the term distinguish it clearly enough from internation-alization, and some writers appear to use the two terms interchangeably. I argue that a clear distinction must be drawn between the inter-national and the global. The hyphen in inter-national is to distinguish (inadequate) conceptions of the global' founded on the existing even if changing system of nation-states, from (genuine) conceptions of the global based on the emergence of global processes and a global system of social relations not founded on national characteristics or nation-states. This global system theory is the framework for my own research. Globalization studies can be categorized on the basis of four research clusters:1. The world-systems approach; 2. The global culture approach; 3. The global society approach; 4. The global capitalism approach;The body of the paper is an exposition and critique of these approaches. The paper argues that the global capitalism approach is most productive for theory and research in globalization and concludes with a brief discussion of resistances to globalization.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.1999.140

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Copyright (c) 2015 Leslie Sklair

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