The decades since the mid-1970s have seen sweeping social, economic and political changes in most Western societies. Whole industries and occupations have disappeared as a mixture of ‘free-market’ reforms, new global production and distribution strategies, and information technologies like the Internet have transformed the workplace and the home. In countries like the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and much of Europe, these changes have been accompanied by entrenched long-term unemployment, wage cuts, increasingly insecure employment and underemployment, and mounting evidence of socio-economic inequality. Many writers (Robertson 1992; Castells 1998; Giddens 1999) have found it convenient to use the idea of globalization to describe or explain these changes.