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The Globalization and Development Reader: Perspectives on Development and Global Change, 2nd Edition by Nitsan Chorev, Amy Bellone Hite, J. Timmons Roberts

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18 The Transnational Capitalist Class and the Discourse of Globalization (2000)

Leslie Sklair

Introduction

Remarkably for a sub-discipline in the social sciences, theory and research on globalization appears to have reached a mature phase, in terms of volume of publications if not their quality, in a relatively short period of time. Most attempts to survey the field, despite their differences, agree that globalization represents a serious challenge to the state-centrist assumptions of most previous social science.1 The apparently ‘natural’ quality of societies bounded by their nation-states plus the difficulty of generating and working with data that cross national boundaries plus the lack of specificity in most theories of the global, all conspire to shore up the crumbling defences of state-centrist social theory against the onslaught of globalization in its several versions. Thus, just as the idea of globalization is becoming firmly established, the sceptics are announcing the limits and, in some extreme cases, the myth of globalization. Globalization, in the words of these scholars and populists alike, is nothing but globaloney.

I have a good deal of sympathy with the sceptics. What I label global system theory, paradoxically, is an attempt to limit drastically the theoretical scope of the concept of globalization and its concrete application in the sphere of empirical research. Globalization is, nevertheless, in my view, a world-historic phenomenon and one that has ...

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