Geography Globalization
by
Raju Das, Robert Bridi
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 December 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 October 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0018

Introduction

Globalization is one of the most widely discussed topics in geography and other social sciences. It refers to intensified geographical movements across national borders of commodities, people seeking employment, money and capital investment, knowledge, cultural values, and environmental pollutants. It also refers to the increased interdependence among nation-states and supranational institutions and to increased connectivity among people’s movements for a more democratic and humane society. Globalization has economic, political, cultural, spatial, and environmental aspects. Causes and impacts of globalization are hotly debated. Some claim that we live in a historically unique globalized world, with a single world market, where national boundaries (including nation-states) are more or less meaningless, and distances have little impact on economic and social relations. Accordingly, globalization affects everyone and all places, and nation-states are powerless to control hypermobile capital, so it is futile to resist it. Others (“internationalists”) accept some aspects of globalization but are skeptical of the view that it is unprecedented (compared to the early part of the 20th century). They emphasize the importance of international companies headquartered in specific national territories, i.e., multinational corporations 9 (MNCs, rather than “footloose” companies or transnational corporations (TNCs). They point to the limited mobility of labor vis-à-vis capital. They say that most of international economic flows are concentrated within the triad (United States, Japan, and Western Europe) and that the emergence of supranational trading blocs (e.g., the European Union) is indicative of regionalization rather than globalization. So, globalization is a geographically uneven process, and nation-states and national cultures are still important factors. These scholars support antiglobalization movements, nationally regulated international processes, and protection of national welfare benefits. Still others, including Marxists, accept the globalization logic of capital and argue that capitalism has always had a tendency to be a global process, as attested by colonialism, which is based on the global search for markets and cheaper raw materials. Competition leads to the monopolistic production of goods and services globally. Capital flight has always been a constraint on governments seeking to control business. Globalization is (at least partly) a new phase of Western imperialism in which national governments are acting as agents of monopoly capital. Marxists’ intellectual-political opposition to the globalization of business activities is a part of their fundamental opposition to production for profit as such. This article introduces some of the main texts on globalization from the growing international literature on the conceptual as well as the empirical aspects of globalization.

General Overviews

Globalization: A Research Guide to Resources in the Princeton University Library provides useful information, statistical and otherwise, on globalization. Allen and Hamnett 1995 provides a geographical perspective on globalization, tackling such issues as multinational corporations (MNCs), global pollution, tourism, global cities, and annihilation of space by communication technologies. Herod 2009 competently summarizes early-21st-century debates on globalization, from a geographical angle, and shows how globalization actually works. Sassen 1998 is a collection of essays dealing with topics such as the “global city,” gender, globalization of labor, information technology, and new forms of inequality. The International Forum on Globalization (IFG) provides information on economic as well as noneconomic aspects of globalization. Cox 1997 speaks to the skeptical view of globalization, arguing that scales below the international (e.g., national and sub-national scales) continue to have wide economic and political significance. Dicken 2003 is a classic text for classroom use as well as for scholarly research on economic globalization. It explores economic globalization from the standpoint of transnational companies (with their national rootedness) and labor and consumer groups. Held and McGrew 2003 is a collection of articles pursuing a variety of views—all more or less skeptical of the view of capital having been footloose—and unpacking economic, political, and cultural aspects of globalization. World Trade Organization (WTO) provides information on world trade and barriers to trade, and is a good source for those who favor capital mobility and free markets. Yale Global Online provides various publications on globalization, including multimedia presentations. The website also includes a section on security and terrorism that highlights the importance of this issue since the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, DC.

  • Allen, John, and Chris Hamnett, eds. A Shrinking World? Global Unevenness and Inequality. Vol. 2 of The Shape of the World: Explorations in Human Geography. Edited by the Open University Course Team. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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    A part of the series of human geography undergraduate texts published by the British Open University, it provides a geographical perspective on globalization. It addresses issues such as MNCs, global pollution, tourism, global cities, and annihilation of space by communication technologies. It includes excerpts from key readings on the topic.

  • Cox, Kevin R., ed. Spaces of Globalization: Reasserting the Power of the Local. New York: Guilford, 1997.

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    Cox’s collection brings together the work of well-known geographers on globalization. A central argument of the book is that alongside economic globalization, localization of economic life is still important, which has implications for labor organizing. For those interested in an advanced text on a critical view of globalization, this is a useful reading.

  • Dicken, Peter. Global Shift: Transforming the World Economy. 4th ed. London: SAGE, 2003.

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    Dicken’s text is a geographical classic on economic globalization, which is useful for students and scholars. It has many diagrams and tables of data. The author provides a comprehensive explanation of economic globalization, examining the role of transnational corporations, states, labor, and consumers.

  • Globalization: A Research Guide to Resources in the Princeton University Library.

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    This website provides a wide variety of resources including literature and statistical data on the topic.

  • Held, David, and Anthony McGrew, eds. The Global Transformations Reader: An Introduction to the Globalization Debate. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2003.

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    This fifty-chapter collection on economic, political, and cultural dimensions and consequences of globalization represents the views of a wide variety of writers. The environmental aspect is missing though. The text has an associated website. An excellent text for advanced undergraduate and graduate students and for university teachers.

  • Herod, Andrew. Geographies of Globalization: A Critical Introduction. Critical Introductions to Geography. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

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    Herod provides a detailed and critical summary of early-21st-century debates on globalization, from a geographical angle. It discusses how globalization really works, unevenly in space, and how it is responded to by labor. A good text for advanced undergraduate students.

  • Sassen, Saskia. Globalization and Its Discontents: Essays on the New Mobility of People and Money. New York: New Press, 1998.

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    Sassen combines perspectives of cultural studies, feminism, political economy, sociology, and political science, and creates a framework for understanding inequality between metropolitan business centers and low-income inner cities. The author critically discusses common misconceptions of globalization.

  • World Trade Organization.

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    The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements that facilitate free trade. The website’s Documents and Resources section provides access to the official documents of the WTO, legal texts (WTO agreements), and a host of other resources, such as trade statistics, videos, audio, and photos.

  • Yale Global Online.

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    This website provides publications including reports, essays, books, multimedia, and related websites that analyze various aspects of globalization. Topics include: economy, environment, gender, health, labor, politics, science and technology, security and terrorism, society and culture, and trade.

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