Sociology Index

Globalization Challenges

The radical transformation of economic structures and the metamorphosis or alterations of geo-political alignments has not only created new opportunities, and new challenges on various fronts to Globalization. Are the politicization of traditional identities and the resurgence of nationalism a response to Western culture and the increasing dominance of liberal capitalism? How has rapid and often unregulated economic transformation exacerbated ethnic and social tensions? Many of these reactions are at odds with democratic principles, and neo-liberalism is being contested by popular democratic forces, including social movements and new transnational networks of civil society organizations. These movements have challenged neo-liberal policy prescriptions and their modes of implementation as anti-democratic and harmful to the poor.



The dismantling of the welfare state in the West and the retrenchment of the state and public services in the developing world have been fiercely resisted. Market forces are as such increasingly at odd with democratization, especially in the developing world. 'Global' is used in the sense of being 'worldwide' and 'globalization' is 'the process of spreading various objects and experiences to people at all corners of the earth'. In analytical terms two different, though not necessarily exclusive, alternative projects can be identified.


Globalization as Westernization or Modernization (especially in an 'Americanized' form). Here 'globalization' is understood as a dynamic, 'whereby the social structures of modernity (capitalism, rationalism, industrialism, bureaucratism) are spread the world over, normally destroying pre-existent cultures and local self-determination in the process.


Globalization as Deterritorialization (or as the spread of supraterritoriality). Here 'globalization' entails a 'reconfiguration of geography, so that social space is no longer wholly mapped in terms of territorial places, territorial distances and territorial borders.


Anthony Giddens' has defined globalization as 'the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa. (Giddens 1990: 64). David Held et al (1999: 16) define globalization as processes which embodies a transformation in the spatial organization of social relations and transactions, assessed in terms of their extensity, intensity, velocity and impact - generating transcontinental or inter-regional flows and networks of activity'.