chapter
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Introduction

This book provides the reader with a 30-year span of debates over globalization and its history. As one of our key thinkers, Jan Aart Scholte, has observed, the word ‘globalization’ is a relatively late addition not only to the English language but to other languages as well. The term itself was only coined in the second half of the twentieth century. The word ‘globe’ as a denotation of a spherical representation of the Earth dates to the fifteenth century. The word ‘global’ entered the scene in the late seventeenth century but came to mean ‘planetarywide scale’ only in the late nineteenth century. The words ‘globalize’ and ‘globalism’ emerged during the 1940s (see Scholte 2005: 50-51), while ‘globalization’ entered academic analysis of particular processes that potentially take place on a trans-planetary scale during the 1980s. The term ‘globalization’ was, at the same time, picked up by public intellectuals and then entered fully into public discourse in many parts of the world, particularly more wealthy countries, at the start of the 1990s. In reviewing the ensuing debates about globalization both in the academic and the broader public realms, we see gradual changes to meanings of the term but never consensus. And, of course, these various meanings themselves become a subject for study, particularly in humanities disciplines where the contours of public discourses are interpreted and assessed. This book presents a study of thinkers in the academy, in society at

large and in social movements who have commented at some length on what globalization(s) means as processes. In reading the works of the 50 thinkers in this book and of many others in preparation for selecting our entries, we concluded that the use of the word ‘globalization’ points to concerns, conclusions, questions and observations about significant changes in the contemporary world. What these changes involve remains a matter of debate to be sure. But there seems little doubt in the minds of globalization thinkers that profound challenges of unusual character and geographical extensity confront the world’s varied peoples.