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The Globalization Reader, 5th Edition by John Boli, Frank J. Lechner

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10 Globalization as a Problem

Roland Robertson

The Crystallization of a Concept and a Problem

Globalization as a concept refers both to the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole. The processes and actions to which the concept of globalization now refers have been proceeding, with some interruptions, for many centuries, but the main focus of the discussion of globalization is on relatively recent times. In so far as that discussion is closely linked to the contours and nature of modernity, globalization refers quite clearly to recent developments. In the present book globalization is conceived in much broader terms than that, but its main empirical focus is in line with the increasing acceleration in both concrete global interdependence and consciousness of the global whole in the twentieth century. But it is necessary to emphasize that globalization is not equated with or seen as a direct consequence of an amorphously conceived modernity.

Use of the noun ‘globalization' has developed quite recently. Certainly in academic circles it was not recognized as a significant concept, in spite of diffuse and intermittent usage prior to that, until the early, or even middle, 1980s. During the second half of the 1980s its use increased enormously, so much so that it is virtually impossible to trace the patterns of its contemporary diffusion across a large number of areas of contemporary life in different parts of the world. By now, ...

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