CHIH-CHIN CHEN and GEORGE RITZER
University of Maryland, USA
Globalization has become an increasingly important academic concern. There are many academic definitions of globalization, but the one employed here defines it mainly as a process that involves “increasing liquidity and multi-directional flows of objects, ideas, and people around the globe” (Ritzer 2010a, 2). Beyond definitions, a wide range of images has been created to get a sense of this process, including a “global village” (McLuhan 1964) and the “global age” (Albrow 1996). These concepts, as well as many others, offer unique perspectives on the nature, mechanisms, and effects of globalization, but they all share the view, clear in the definition above, that the world is becoming more interconnected and global flows are increasingly less likely to be hindered (Friedman 2007). However, Friedman and others take this view too far when they think in terms of a “flat world.” While there has been an increase in global flows, barriers remain that impede the flows and make the world far from flat. Furthermore, nation-states, businesses, and other entities continually create new barriers designed to benefit them and to adversely affect others, and which, in the process, slow down, or completely block, global flows of many sorts. In terms of Friedman's image, they create numerous hills, if not mountains, on the global landscape. Nonetheless, it is the flows ...