Globalization and its Discontents

  • Fred Halliday


Globalization has become from the early 1990s onwards the central topic of debate in social science and in much public debate, in both developed and developing societies. That something momentous and far-reaching is going on is indisputable even if its likely end state is not yet possible to discern. There is, however, a need, in the bacchanalian whirl of generalization and meta-historical claim which has masked discussion of globalization, for conceptual precision both about what the term is supposed to mean and about what it is that is being globalized. More caution than has often been evident is also required about mixing into one supposedly unified process what are often distinct developments, to leave open how far the different elements of globalization are indeed connected. Changes in family structure, or the rise and fall of secular ideas, or the spread of fast food, are not necessarily related to trade liberalization or the Internet; the collapse of communism was only partially related to the processes known as globalization, even though the two processes coincided in the late 1980s and early l990s; the rise of ethnic and nationalist protest movements, and the cult of identity, may be seen equally as a revolt against globalization and a component of it.


Foreign Direct Investment World Economy Trade Liberalization Multinational Corporation Secular Idea 
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© Fred Halliday 2001

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  • Fred Halliday

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