chapter  2
36 Pages

Globalization: myth or reality?

As with all concepts within the social sciences, globalization is a highly contested issue with opinions ranging across a broad spectrum. At the one end are those who view it as ‘a process that will result in the melting away of national boundaries and the unifi cation of mankind in one peaceful and prosperous community’. Yet, at the other end of the spectrum, there are those who view it as ‘the source of all the ills that infl ict the poorest – and collectively the most populous – countries and/or social groups’.1 Despite this diversity of opinions, several scholars have identifi ed three main schools of thought in the globalization debate: the globalists, sceptics and transformationalists.2 As Anthony McGrew points out, one of the major fault lines that divide the three schools of thought is the issue of historical continuity and change: the globalists argue that ‘it represents a new historical conjuncture’; the sceptics ‘dismiss the idea of globalization as a contemporary myth’; while the transformationalists view contemporary economics as ‘a process of on-going transformation’3 As will become apparent, the globalists and sceptics are situated at the opposite end of the spectrum, while the transformationlists attempt to develop the middle ground between the other two competing schools. This chapter adopts such a classifi cation. Inevitably, pigeonholing scholars in such a manner runs the danger of caricaturing their positions. A warning thus accompanies this three-fold classifi cation and should be regarded more as a heuristic device rather than as a perfect depiction of the range of views that exist on the topic of globalization.