Since the late 1980s, the world has witnessed the unleashing of historical forces which are restructuring and reshaping the socio-economic and political realities of contemporary life. This epoch-defining moment in the contemporary global economy has unfolded within the overarching structure of the processes of neoliberal globalization. As Jan Aart Scholte points out, ‘“globalization” stands out for a large public, spread across the world, as one of the defining terms of contemporary society’ (2000, p. 1). According to Hirst and Thompson, the term has become ‘a fashionable concept in the social sciences, a core dictum in the prescriptions of management gurus, and a catchphrase for journalists and politicians of every stripe’ (1996, p. 1). For Meric S. Gertler, ‘frequent pronouncements by academics, journalists, and policy makers alike continue to assert publicly the “fact” of globalization with numbing frequency. Bound up in such pronouncements are the ideas that globalization both is a reality and, as a process, constitutes an inevitable and inexorable development’ (1997, p. 45). Globalization thus understood, has become to borrow Petras and Veltmeyer’s words:
Such pronouncements that attest to the configurations and transformations unleashed by globalization highlight not only the extent of globalization’s hegemony, extent and reach, but also the new challenges for global society and progressive forces. This chapter captures the various dynamics of neoliberal globalization, the understandings and meanings of the process from divergent perspectives as captured in the extant literature. It is therefore an attempt to come to terms with the various definitions for
the term ‘globalization.’ Most importantly, what is the extent and significance of globalization and how should it be conceptualized?