The Globalization Reader
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The Globalization Reader

Frank J. Lechner, John Boli, Frank J. Lechner, John Boli

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The Globalization Reader

Frank J. Lechner, John Boli, Frank J. Lechner, John Boli

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About This Book

An introduction to the issues surrounding the complex and controversial realities of today's interconnected world, the revised sixth edition

Since its initial publication, The Globalization Reader has been lauded for its comprehensive coverage of the issues surrounding globalization. Now in its sixth edition, the Reader has been thoroughly revised and updated and continues to review the most important global trends. Including readings by a variety of authors, the text offers a wide-ranging and authoritative introduction to the political, economic, cultural, and experiential aspects of globalization.

The updated sixth edition presents the most accessible and comprehensive review of current debates and research. Contributions from scholars, activists, and organizations provide balanced viewpoints and expert coverage of the many aspects of globalization. The Globalization Reader offers readings on an exciting range of new topics as well as retaining key globalization topics such as the experience of globalization, economic and political globalization, the role of media and religion in cultural globalization, women's rights, environmentalism, global civil society, and the alternative globalization movement. This important resource:

  • Covers the many complex dimensions of globalization
  • Includes contributions from many of the most prominent globalization scholars
  • Presents concise and informative introductions to each major topic
  • Offers compelling discussion questions for each section
  • Contains readings on a variety of new topics such as migration, medical tourism, state policy regarding abortion and same-sex sexual relations, the UN Global Compact, climate justice, and more

Written for students in undergraduate and graduate courses in sociology, political science, anthropology and geography, the revised sixth edition covers courses such as globalization, comparative political economy, international relations and similar topics.

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Part I
Debating Globalization


When the Cold War drew to a close in the late 1980s, some in the West proclaimed the “end of history”: from now on, there would be no more deep conflicts about how to organize societies, no more ideological divisions in the world. In the “new world order” heralded by the American president at the time, George H. W. Bush, countries would cooperate peacefully as participants in one worldwide market, pursuing their interests while sharing commitments to basic human values. These triumphant responses to the new global situation heartily embraced economic liberalization and the prosperity and democratization it supposedly entailed. As global trade and investment expanded, more and more people could share in the bounty of a growing economy. Economic and political interdependence would create shared interests that would help prevent destructive conflict and foster support for common values. As vehicles of globalization, international organizations could represent these common values for the benefit of humanity. Globalization, in this rosy scenario, created both wealth and solidarity. The spread of market‐oriented policies, democratic polities, and individual rights promised to promote the well‐being of billions of people.
This influential perspective on globalization has been challenged by critics who see globalization as a juggernaut of untrammeled capitalism. They fear a world ruled by profit‐seeking global corporations. They see economic interdependence making countries more vulnerable to the destructive impact of market shifts. The social fabric – the ties among people all across the globe – is strained when winners in the global game become disconnected from losers. “By allowing market values to become all‐important,” said George Soros, himself a significant player in world financial markets, in 1998, “we actually narrow the space for moral judgment and undermine public morality … Globalization has increased this aberration, because it has actually reduced the power of individual states to determine their destiny.”1 The process, other critics add, is lopsided because it imposes the political and cultural standards of one region in the world – namely, the West – on all other regions. Globalization is Westernization by another name. It undermines the cultural integrity of other cultures and is therefore repressive, exploitative, and harmful to most people in most places.
Our selections in this part illustrate the major positions in the global debate about the merits and direction of globalization. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, journalists at The Economist, represent the positive view of globalization by arguing that it not only produces greater economic efficiency and prosperity but also extends the “idea of liberty.” Globalization opens up societies and reduces the “tyranny of place.” In a more globalized world, more people can freely exercise their talents, decide where they want to live, and fashion their own identities. Like Micklethwait and Wooldridge, Amartya Sen, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, recognizes the potential benefits of global integration. Briefly illustrating worldwide contributions to the process, he refutes the idea that it is a “new Western curse.” Yet he agrees with critics of globalization that it is profoundly unjust in its consequences. To him, however, the central question is not whether to use the global market economy, but how to create institutions that can lead to a more equitable distribution of its benefits.
Dutch professor of communications Cees J. Hamelink reviews many different aspects of globalization and the corresponding disputes that have arisen regarding its substance and significance. Using a discursive approach pitting “supporters” and “sceptics” of the concept against one another, he provides a useful framework for developing an informed understanding of globalization’s dimensions and complexities but does not try to resolve the many controversies surrounding the concept.
The next selection finds Samuel P. Huntington, an American scholar, arguing that the rising trend of defending distinct cultural values, frequently associated with religious fundamentalism, is not merely a reaction against globalization. Rather, he points out, the globe is now divided into several civilizations with often irreconcilable worldviews. Resisting incorporation into a single, uniform world society, these civilizations struggle with one another in profound conflicts that ultimately will reduce the influence of the West.
The Millennium Development Goals Report by the United Nations reviews the progress made, and not made, in eight areas targeted by the world body in 2000. The report documents considerable progress in many areas but notes that “the poorest and most vulnerable people are being left behind,” even though they were a central concern of the MDG program. Gender inequality, environmental degradation, conflicts that have made refugees of more than 60 million people, hundreds of millions of people suffering from hunger – the problems remain enormous. The UN calls for continued concerted global action to further the pursuit of sustainable development that will lift the poor out of poverty and deprivation.
The critics thus share a fear of the unrestrained capitalist system. Some lament its imperial obliteration of cultural distinctions and advocate preserving or reviving traditional cultural distinctions. Others are more concerned about the impact on solidarity within societies and advocate stronger self‐governance in democratic states. Still others worry most about the economic, political, and cultural divisions that result from globalization and advocate the cosmopolitan pursuit of a unified but just world. Such critical views of globalization themselves affect the course of the process. The increasingly deliberate efforts from many quarters to define the proper shape of world society also contribute significantly to its formation, an issue to which we return in the last section of this book. At the very least, the debate expresses a common global consciousness, though not, of course, a global consensus.


  1. 1 Quoted in Timothy O’Brien, “He’s seen the enemy: It looks like him,” New York Times, December 6, 1998.

The Hidden Promise: Liberty Renewed

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge
[…] Karl Marx’s tomb in Highgate Cemetery is a sorry place. The sculpture of his great bearded head is sometimes soiled with pigeon droppings; the army of celebrated intellectuals and communist dignitaries that used to come to pay its respects to the master has dwindled into a tiny band of eccentrics. In one way, this is a pity. As a prophet of socialism, Marx may be kaput; but as a prophet of “the universal interdependence of nations,” as he called globalization, he can still seem startlingly relevant.
For all his hatred of the Victorian bourgeoisie, Marx could not conceal his admiration for its ability to turn the world into a single marketplace. Some of this admiration was mere schadenfreude, to be sure, born of his belief that in creating a global working class the bourgeoisie was also creating its very own grave diggers; but a surprising amount of this respect was genuine, like a prizefighter’s respect for his muscle‐bound opponent. In less than a hundred years, Marx argued, the bourgeoisie had “accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts and Gothic cathedrals”; had conducted “expeditions that put in the shade all former exoduses of nations and crusades”; and had “created more massive and more colossal productive forces” than all preceding generations put together. In achieving all this, it had begun to transform an agglomeration of warring nations and petty principalities into a global marketplace.
Marx was at his most expansive on globalization in The Communist Manifesto, which he cowrote with Friedrich Engels, a factory owner turned revolutionary, and published in 1848, a year in which ancien régimes were tottering throughout Europe.
The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.
The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. … In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant land and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self‐sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal interdependence of nations.
Even Marx’s final resting place is, to some extent, a vindication of this great insight. Opposite him in Highgate lies William Nassar Kennedy, a colonel of the Winnipeg Rifles who was “called home” in 1885 while returning to Canada from Egypt, where he was in command of the Nile Voyageurs. A little further down there is John MacKinlay and his wife, Caroline Louisa, “late of Bombay.” Highgate Cemetery is strewn with the graves of Victorian soldiers, bureaucrats, and merchants who devoted their lives to turning the world into a single market.
What would Marx make of the world today? Imagine for a moment that the prayers of the faithful were answered and the great man awoke from his slumber. Having climbed out of his mausoleum, dusted himself off, and taken a frustrated sniff at the bottle of scotch, what would Marx find? There would, of course, be the shock of discovering that, on all the big issues, he had been proved hopelessly wrong. It was communism that succumbed to its own internal contradictions and capitalism that swept all before it. But he might at least console himself with the thought that his description of globalization remains as sharp today as it was 150 years ago.
Wandering down Highgate Hill, Marx would discover the Bank of Cyprus (which services the three hundred thousand Cypriots that live in London), several curry houses (now England’s most popular sort of eatery), and a Restaurante do Brazil. He might be less surprised to find a large Irish community. But the sign inviting him to watch “Irish Sports Live,” thanks to a pub’s satellite‐television linkup, might intrigue him. On the skyline, he would soon spot the twin towers of Canary Wharf, built by Canadian developers with money borrowed from Japanese banks and now occupied mostly by American investment banks.
Marx would hear Asian voices and see white schoolchildren proudly wearing T‐shirts with pictures of black English soccer stars. Multicultural London (which is now home to thirty‐three ethnic communities, each with a population of more than ten thousand) might well exhilarate a man who was called “the Moor” by his own children because of his dark complexion. He could stop at almost any newsstand and pick up a copy of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that would be no more than a day old. Nearly swept off his feet by a passing Rolls‐Royce, he might be more surprised to discover that the vehicle, like the rest of Britain’s car industry, was now owned by a German company.
If Marx were to venture back to his old haunts in Soho, he would find a cluster of video‐production companies and advertising agencies that sells its services to the world. If he climbed up to Hampstead Heath, the Marx family’s favorite picnic spot, he might be surprised to discover that the neighborhood’s most expensive house is now owned by an Indian, Lakshmi Mittal, who has built up one of the world’s biggest steel companies. London is home to around a quarter of Europe’s five hundred biggest companies. Its financial‐services industry alone employs directly or indirectly 850,000 people, more than the population of the city of Frankfurt.
Yet even as Marx marveled at these new creations of the bourgeoisie and perhaps applauded its meritocratic dynamism, it is hard to believe that some of the old revolutionary fires would not burn anew. Poverty of the grinding sort that inspired Engels to write The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845) might have disappeared; the rigid class system of ...

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Citation styles for The Globalization Reader
APA 6 Citation
Lechner, F., & Boli, J. (2019). The Globalization Reader (6th ed.). Wiley. Retrieved from (Original work published 2019)
Chicago Citation
Lechner, Frank, and John Boli. (2019) 2019. The Globalization Reader. 6th ed. Wiley.
Harvard Citation
Lechner, F. and Boli, J. (2019) The Globalization Reader. 6th edn. Wiley. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Lechner, Frank, and John Boli. The Globalization Reader. 6th ed. Wiley, 2019. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.