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Defining Globalization In An Operational Way Politics Essay

Defining Globalization In An Operational Way Politics Essay

It is often very difficult to trace the origin of concepts and ideas in social sciences because the concepts, theories and ideas are the products of collective activities. Therefore, it would be very difficult to identify the first use of term “globalization” while according to Malcolm Walters, the author of book Globalization, Roland Robertson was the early user of this term (Walters, 1995) [1] . Apart from the fact, who has used this term for the first time, at the emergence of twenty first century globalization in the form of concept, and slogan is used frequently as compared to any other term. In Singapore, almost everything has significance with globalization from the inflow of foreign capital, technology, workers, music, movies, culture etc. Some people consider the globalization as a train with no brakes crushing everything coming in its way and some people consider it as a benefit to get on the train towards economic growth and modernization.

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Concept of Globalization

According to the meanings in the Oxford Dictionary, the term glocal and the noun glocalization are created by contracting both global and local together so as to make a blend (Robertson, 1995, p. 28) [2] . The term was transformed on Japanese word dochakuka which basically meant to adapt the farming tactics depending on the local condition of individual. Within a business world, the concept was adopted so as to refer to global localization and the idea and term of globalization originally comes from Japan (Robertson, 1995, p. 28) [3] . However, the term glocalization was frequently used since late eighties, there were various relevant terms existed that were used by social scientists and are still continued to use. It was claimed by various sociologists that subjects and areas like sociology and political sciences were the products of western social experiences when such fields and areas were transported to non western or non European contexts there was a need for indigenization. The idea of indigenization created a debate among scientists because it raises basic questions regarding the application of these concepts and ideas. One of the basic concerns of globalization is that it opens the doors of doubts regarding the originality of cultures. In longer term perspectives of globalization, the locality and local are considered to be the outcomes of globalization as it is difficult to find any culture that can be viewed as isolated from the procedures of globalization (Khondker, 2004, pp. 1-9) [4] .

The influence of globalization on culture depends on the consideration of individual about the local cultures to be protected from the external influences or the creation of new cultural activities results from the mixing of ideas and concepts from various cultures. In fact there are some cultures as discussed above that are isolated and cultural interaction though relations of trade have occurred for thousands of years. Therefore, it can be observed that the values are key to assessing the influence of globalization on the individuals’ lives around the globe. At the instance, it is viable to spread the concept of globalization in such a way that the conflict between various values is highlighted as they play their role in specific circumstances. Hence, the McDonaldization or Americanization of the world presents the procedure of globalization that is driven by the consumer culture of America rolling over other various cultures (Rothenberg, 2003) [5] .

Economic Phenomena and Globalization

While the US Senate pushes a bill to complete a 700-mile-long fence along the Mexican border, Saudi Arabia is finalizing plans for a similar project: a 560-mile-long, US$12 billion dollar electrified fence along its border with Iraq. Both fences are being built to keep outsiders out, to foil illegal immigrants, refugees, black-market weapons dealers, drug runners, and in Saudi Arabia’s case, terrorists. The US and Saudi Arabia have decided that the consequences of not building a fence are more costly than ever before, thanks to globalization, which has made borders more penetrable by more people. [6]

Though globalization and its causes and effects are integral to reporting issues like these, the definition of the word is widely debated. Is it widespread economic liberalization? Are national frontiers “simply irrelevant”? (Barber, 1996) [7] . Scholars have developed many definitions, but no matter which definition is chosen by a journalist for a story, the definition should be operational. It should allow for in-depth qualitative and quantitative analysis, so that causes and effects can be identified. Specifically, in international reporting, an operational definition of globalization should help a journalist answer important questions regarding the role of borders, domains, consciousnesses, actors, and consequences in a story (Holm, 2006). [8] Are fences on state borders a sign that globalization is weakening, or an example of globalization’s sometimes localizing effects?

In other words, the globalization might be considered and classified functionally relevant to the series of economic procedure. Such procedures include the liberalization and deregulation of markets, privatization of assets, retreat of state functions in terms of welfare, diffusion of technology, foreign direct investment etc. The term refers to the spread of sales, production facilities, manufacturing processes all around the world that can reconstitute the international division of labor. The prior decades of globalization has been witnessed by various analysts and often the discussion of globalization has been condensed into the discussion of national income that is measured in terms of growth. Connecting the amalgamation of globalization to the economic procedures, a broad statement made by Robert Z. Lawrence that in general terms the economic amalgamation leads towards the convergence with poor economies growing more fast as compared to the rich economy (Lawrence, 1996) [9] . It was also noted by the Harvard economist, Jeffery G. Williamson and the President of the Economic History Association, both argued that the globalization leads towards convergence as observed and evidenced in the historical decades. The essence of the argument was regarding the bottom line in terms of the living standard gap between developed and under developed countries reduces with the passage of time and hence the convergence indicates the destruction of this gap in terms of percentage (Williamson, 1996, p. 278) [10] .

Globalization in Technological and Social Revolution

It is considered to be inconsistent to ignore the more theoretical perspective in terms of the matter evidenced as a decisive shift away from industrial capitalism to a postindustrial conception of economic relations. The identical economic phenomena identified earlier are essential not only due to the reason of their representation of unique cluster of activity but also due to the representation of a new form of activity. This concept suggests an outstanding revolution among the techno-industrial higher classes that are mainly driven by the technological enhancements ultimately rendering the entire globe as a single market. It is a comprehensive vision in terms of globally cohesive production, specialized but interdependent markets of labor, privatization of state assets at faster pace, tangle linkage of technology across the conventional national borders. Furthermore, it is also argued that the development of entire new and recent economy has been evidenced along with a typical shift that is influencing the way of considering the wide variety of social and economic relations (Castells, 1991) [11] .

Jan Aart Scholte’s definition of globalization cannot clarify globalization’s role in events like these. He sees globalization as “a shift in the nature of social space” due to the increase of transplanetary connections and the development of supra-territorial connections between people; he does not leave room for globalization as a force that can lead to or bolster the local (Scholte, 2005). [12] In addition, the space has been condensed due to the technological development even though the influence of such condensability most probably to enhance the diversity that is captured within the context of glocalization. The general reorganization of economic activities are considered to be in progress at regional levels while on the other hand, the eruption of information or communication and commodities or services flows is emerging across the various cities, regions and nations. The term glocalization is sometimes associated with the globalization as there is some conflict between these terms in terms of compliment or confliction. The context that glocalization is the localization of economic and political relation while shifting the authority from national level downward in such a way that heighten the responses of globalization and the conflicts with other perspectives suggesting that both are opposes on the basis of analysis and examination (Higgott & Reich, 1997) [13] .

Globalization, he says, “involves reductions of barriers” to transworld connections (Scholte, 2005) [14] . Boundaries have become defined under different criteria in a transplanetary, supra-territorial world. Not only do states’ borders mean less, but new types of borders exist; you can be online or offline by the click of a mouse, for example. And technology has also made supra-territoriality a possibility: global telecommunications, the Internet. Quantitatively, he says, there are more transplanetary links, the effects of relations are bigger, and the interactions are happening faster. Transplanetary relations, although they have been going on for centuries, “are denser than those of any previous epoch” (Scholte, 2005) [15] . Qualitatively, it is the supra-territorial nature of social space that is unique to the present era. Supra-territorial relations are those “social connections that substantially transcend territorial geography” (Scholte, 2005) [16] . One major source of conflict lies within the context that globalization reduces the essence of geography while on the other hand, glocalization enhances it as a opposing tendency and geographical association in a sense of region and trading becomes the vital importance. Another source of conflict as suggested by Ruigrok and Rob van Tulder as they defined globalization and glocalization in terms of conflicting strategies of firms. It was also suggested that globalizing firms trail a strategy that endeavors for a worldwide division of labor in the firm while on the other hand, glocalizing firms trail an alternative strategy in which the firms find ways to imitate production within various regions while avoiding the risk associated with the establishment of trade blocs. Hence, glocalizing firms find ways to generate an interfirm division of labor that is geographically concentrated (Ruigrok & Tulder, 1995, pp. 46-131) [17] .

In most general terms, the globalizing firms are labeled multinational corporations as the glocalizing firms find various ways to imitate depending on the regions and with this difference, both behave in different manner. Multinational firms most probably decentralize production and sales but the decision making remain steadily centralized in a categorized structure. In behavioral terms, it is reflected in susceptibility to retain the overwhelming majority of Research & Development facilities with specific exceptions at home (Louis W. Pauly, 1997) [18] . Moreover, the significance of revolution in the most positive form is reflected in the claims of Peter Schwartz and Peter Leyden that offers the prospects of four decades of prolonged growth and noteworthy transformation which is inspired by the deregulation and technological enhancements in terms of computers, telecom, biotech, nanotech, alternative energy etc (Schwartz & Leyden, 1997, p. 116) [19] .

Scholte points out four other notions of globalization as internationalization, liberalization, universalization, and westernization, and he describes these definitions in contrast to his. If defined as one of these four notions, he contends, the term globalization adds nothing new to previous understandings of the world, whereas his definition adds the concept of supra-territoriality.

Scholte warns that the four definitions also hold implicit dangers because of their foci, which are narrow. If people see globalization as only economic liberalization, they will miss other important factors that make up globalization. Such limitations are dangerous according to Scholte because they blind people to the discontinuity “in the underlying character of social geography” (Scholte, 2005) [20] . If we define globalization in one of these four narrow terms, we “merely rehash old knowledge” and “lose a major opportunity to grasp-and act upon-certain key circumstances of our times” (Scholte, 2005) [21] .

But can Scholte’s definition and his new contribution, supra-territoriality, help us grasp and act upon key circumstances of our times? In international reporting-which should help us to at least grasp key circumstances-it is, to some extent, helpful to understand globalization as a respatialization of social life based on transplanetary and supra-territorial connectivity. Scholte’s definition is especially useful to understand the use of framing in reporting.

Globalization and Terrorism

In chapter one of Framing Terrorism, Norris, Kern, and Just explain that journalists need frames “to convey dominant meanings, to make sense of the facts, to focus the headlines, and to structure the story line” (Norris, Montague, & Marion, 2003) [22] . Frames help organize and prioritize stories in the nebulous realm of all news. Frames are powerful features of reporting, and can influence social space by agenda-setting, cognitive priming, and evaluation, especially when a large portion of the population has access to news and repeatedly experiences the same frame. More quickly and more widely than ever-because of mass-communications and instant transmissions-framing can link vaguely related issues with the magic of one term. 9/11, for example.

It has been observed that America is at war with terrorists for over a long period of time. United States has never realized the magnitude of war until September 11, 2001. The conflict had been establishing since 1983 Marine Corps barracks bombings in Lebanon and few analysts predicted the hostility coming their way. A concept has been hypothesized by contemporary theorists renowned as the fourth generational warfare with the blurred distinctions between war and peace, civilian and military, and national and transnational groups. The global war on terrorism fits in such concept with the adversary using asymmetrical capabilities in surprising ways to devastating effects. It has been clearly understood by United States when coupled with the mass destructive weapons (Lind, Nightengale, Schmitt, Sutton, & Wilson, October 1989, pp. 22-26) [23] .

According to Norris, Kern, and Just, the event of 9/11 created a “critical culture shift in the predominant ‘news frame’ used by the American mass media for understanding issues of national security, altering perceptions of risk at home and threats abroad” (Norris, Montague, & Marion, 2003) [24] . Even if the real threat of terrorism did not change, the power of framing has kept the fear of terrorism ripe in the US, through the “war on terrorism” frame, still used daily in US international reporting. The widespread fear instigated by framing has consequently allowed the US government to restrict some civil liberties through the Patriot Act. Supra-territorial and transplanetary connections in mass communications have allowed the US government, in conjunction with US reporting, to efficiently frame international reporting and quickly assert influence over civil society.

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The terrorist attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre was considered to be a significant and more deadly demonstration of various trends that have emerged in the period of post-Cold War. It was not considered to be a turning point that signaled and indicated the initiating of new decade of internationalization. It is obvious that terrorists always had evil objectives as demonstrated on September 11, 2001 in terms of capability to carry out deadly determinations anywhere across the entire globe with vast and major influences. Contradicting the capabilities of terrorists requires the re analyzing of strategic backgrounds and the response of United States towards such strategies. Moreover, the United States has been forced to consider the national interests and estimate the strategies of national security as a result of September 11, 2001. The most major trends having devastating influence on the strategic framework and background includes collapse of the bipolar system, revival of globalism, and rise of Islamic extremism. The convergence of such trends enabled various nations to experience peace, strength and increasing affluence along with various challenges. The strong repercussion have created against the considerations of various societies in terms of increasing consistency among nations and cultures that challenge to devastate and destroy the traditional local values. The terrorism has been lifted globally due to these trends and due to which it is essential for United States to re-assess the strategy (Terrorism, November 2002) [25] .

Meanwhile, supra-territorial and transplanetary connections have benefited terrorists, as well. Al Qaeda has used the Internet to spread its message through websites and videos, and global television has allowed an array of terrorist messages to be spread to homes everywhere. “Political terrorism is theater,” Michael Stohl writes in “Demystifying Terrorism,” and “terrorists are primarily interested in the audience” (Stohl, 1988) [26] . To spread its messages, to reach audiences, to travel anywhere in a day, to take advantage of the fact that people travel en masse, to develop financial portfolios and make money through the global black-market drug and weapons rings, terrorists have relied on the density of transplanetary and supra-territorial nature of today’s globalized space.

But do terrorists do what they do just because that can? What are their motives? Are they just madmen? How do terrorists in Afghanistan differ from terrorists in Indonesia or India? What regions are especially conscious of terror-related problems? Why does Saudi Arabia think a fence can keep terrorists out? What are the consequences of not answering these questions?

In international reporting, an understanding of Scholte’s definition can help identify a story’s potential frames (9/11, “the War on Terror”) and can even describe why some things are able to happen (terrorists are able to have a more wide-spread effect on the global stage). But in international reporting, Scholte’s broad definition can only answer a slice of specific questions. It does not lead a journalist to answer important questions regarding the role of borders, domains, consciousness, actors, and consequences in a story.

Contradictions and Uncertainties of Globalization

Borders, in Scholte’s definition, are broken down in the process of globalization, just as all barriers are reduced, and this result in more transworld social contacts (Scholte, 2005) [27] . With globalization, he says, “people become more able-physically, legally, linguistically, culturally and psychologically-to engage with each other wherever on planet Earth they might be” (Scholte, 2005) [28] . Besides the fact that he remains unclear about how these barriers break down, an increasing ability to engage with each other would not necessarily lead to further globality. As drug-runners and migrants have greater cross-border mobility thanks to quick transport and communications, more are crossing the US border with Mexico; in response, the US builds a fence, a literal enforcement of its traditional borders. And Saudi Arabia’s most recent answer to terrorism is the same: enforce traditional borders.

Globalization actually links the people all around the world as a result of which new commonalities emerges into experiences with their differentiating and producing new inequalities. Similarly, when it connects the isolated regions to global network parts of the world, it ignores other regions. The events reveal the contradictions and conflicts at the core of globalization and the technologies of information, communication, and transportation facilitating the globalization can be used to damage it, and generating instruments of devastation along with the production (Kellner, 2002, pp. 285-305) [29] . Consequently, it has been argued that in order to theorize globalization properly it is essential to conceptualize the various contradictions that are generated by the combination of globalization of technological revolution and restructuring of capital, as a result of which conflicts are generated between capitalism and democracy. In the global economy, globalization involves the production of logic of capital with the spread of democracy in information, finance, investing and dispersal of technology. Thus, globalization is a mixture of capitalism and democracy in which the logic of capital and market system enter more fields of global life in terms of democracy spreads, more political areas and spaces of daily life are opposed by democratic demands and forces. It is observed that sometimes globalization promote democracy and sometimes it constrains it by either equating capitalism and democracy, or in a problematic manner (Friedman, 1999) [30] .

Assessing of Matter

At international level, developing and developed countries have differentiating concerns on wide basis. In developing countries, the importance is on development at any cost by indicating that the developed countries industrialized at time when there was no repute for environmental concerns and labor standards were also offensive. All such things were maintained by developing countries in order to receive assistance as little opportunities and chances were available but were needed to develop in any way. Moreover, developing countries have asked international community to postpone or cancel their astounding debt. Such countries are basically compelled to repay the loans that were taken by previous dictatorial regimes or suggested by the donors to finance development schemes (Chapter 11 – Globalization) [31] .

Additionally, if the world is becoming respacialized according to transplanetary and supra-territorial connections, is any compression of social space equally important among all domains? An African-American crude-oil trader with the Internet has more global impact than his family’s remote Ugandan village with an Internet connection. But which domains of social space are more affected by respacialization, and compared to what? Is the crude-oil trader any more effective with blue-tooth technology, than he had been with wired technology? Is the village able to use their Internet connection in a way that will change their lives? Scholte’s definition does not leave room for economies of scale or the ingrained character of traditional life in parts of the world.

Traditional life and identities establish regional consciousnesses that determine agendas. How does a respacialization of social life change consciousnesses? The EU exists, and Europe has asserted itself as a unified economic power. Has this changed the way Germans think of themselves? How has it changed the German agenda? Scholte’s definition doesn’t consider the subtle interplay of identities as important in forming policies, whether the world experiences more connectivity or not.

Just as domains are not equally important, neither are actors. On whom should international reports focus? Scholte’s definition gives us no clues: who are those responsible for the respacialization of social life? Does it matter? And who are affected? Certainly not everyone, and certainly not in the same ways. Scholte admits this: “the trend has not touched all of humanity to the same extent” (Scholte, 2005) [32] . But how can this be measured based on Scholte’s definition? This most important part of globalization, Scholte only touches upon. He writes, “The growth of transplanetary and supra-territorial connections empowers some people and disempowers others” (Scholte, 2005) [33] . If globalization creates inequalities, how great are these inequalities? Can we do anything about them? How can journalists begin to discuss them in a story?

Scholte’s definition leaves many questions unanswered, though these are what build stories. Other, more operational definitions of globalization have been developed and used by journalists and social scientists, on which journalists depend for measures of their subjects, audience, and their own effects. In Hans-Henrik Holm’s “The Effect of Globalization on Media Structures and Norms,” for example, this definition of globalization was used: “the intensification of economic, political, social and cultural relations across borders” (Holm H.-H. , 2001) [34] . Although it is not a universally accepted definition, the definition focuses on structural and technological elements and so can serve as a crucible, leading to new developments and insights. By including economic integration in the definition, Holm can deduce that globalization has had an effect on Danish media. One of many examples: “Internationalization has pushed the media business towards larger and larger units” (Holm H.-H. , 2001) [35] . Holm could maneuver between qualitative and quantitative analysis and come to specific conclusions about how globalization has affected editorial choice in Danish media.

In other studies, globalization as a term is more useful if it is not defined by the study. In Andreas Schuck’s study of vote choice in the Dutch EU constitution referendum, participants were asked their opinion of globalization, among other factors. This part of the study tried to find how some factors affected vote intention before the start of the campaign, and results indicated that people who had a fear of globalization were more likely to intend to vote no. (Schuck, September 2006) [36] According to Schuck, this is one of the first studies of its kind to take participants’ views of globalization into account, even though the term was undefined by the study (Schuk, September 2006) [37] . The participants relied on their own understanding of the term, however foggy. Requiring that participants defined globalization in Scholte’s terms would have been counterproductive, not only because it would have been time-consuming to explain Scholte’s definition. Even if the participants learned and understood the concept according to Scholte (or anyone else), the study then would not have revealed how public perceptions of globalization affects voters’ decisions.


Ultimately, globalization is not only a condition, but it is also a tool. By using the word in clearly decided ways-defining it or leaving it to subjects in a study or interview-globalization can lead journalists to understand and tell their stories more effectively. But globalization should not be over-estimated, as Holm points out in his study. When globalization is clearly defined, it is often found that the local, the traditional, is still important. One of his conclusions, in fact, is that “classical news criteria are still the best predictors of what news will be chosen and used”(Holm, 2006) [38] .

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