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

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Introduction

How can we best explain globalization? This question has no easy answer because, as we suggested in our introduction, globalization has many layers and dimensions. A good explanation must come to grips with this complexity. In addition, the world society that is still under formation presents a moving target, so any theory must be adaptable in dealing with new dimensions and characteristics of globalization. Explanation is all the more difficult because, as globalization refashions the world, theoretical tools once used to make sense of earlier historical periods may no longer be adequate. The “global age,” Martin Albrow argued in his book by that title, calls for new theory, new thinking, and new departures in social science, especially if the discontinuity between old and new is as profound as many observers claim. In this part, we illustrate the new forms of theorizing that have emerged in recent decades by presenting selections from four major perspectives on globalization.

These perspectives propose quite varied accounts of globalization. We can illustrate the differences between them by comparing their answers to a hypothetical question (taken from the excerpt by John W. Meyer et al.): how would a newly discovered island society be incorporated into world society? One perspective's proponents would reply that transnational corporations would stake a claim to the island's natural resources, send engineers to create infrastructure, and build plants to take advantage ...

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