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PR 1450 Introduction to Globalization Lecture 6 Theories of globalization II historical perspectives Chris Rumford The origins of globalization No one can say exactly when globalization began

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pr 1450 introduction to globalization

PR 1450Introduction to Globalization

Lecture 6

Theories of globalization II

historical perspectives

Chris Rumford

the origins of globalization
The origins of globalization

No one can say exactly when globalization began

But most social scientists agree that processes of globalization have been going on for a long time, many centuries in fact

Thinking about the history of globalization is important, not least because it challenges the idea that globalization must be very recent and driven by economic and technical developments

global moments
Global moments

Alex MacGillivray (2006: 15-21) identifies five key moments (key decades) over the past 500 years. At these moments globalization took a great leap-forward;

  • the Iberian carve up (1490 – 1500)
  • the Britannic meridian (1880-90)
  • Sputnik world (1955-65)
  • the global supply chain (1995–2005)
  • thermo-globalization
iberian carve up 1490 1500
Iberian carve-up (1490 – 1500)
  • Spain and Portugal dominated long-distance trade
  • backed up with support of the Pope
  • start of colonial competition in the world
  • spread of printed word
britannic meridian 1880 90
Britannic meridian (1880-90)
  • British Empire leading imperial power
  • enforced global Gold Standard
  • international meridian created possibility of modern time zones and round-the-world shipping
sputnik world 1955 65
Sputnik World (1955-65)
  • Sputnik 1 – first artificial satellite
  • Cold war world
  • decolonization in Third World led USA and Soviet Union to struggle for influence throughout the world
  • period of rapid economic growth
  • birth of Green Movement
global supply chain 1995 2005
Global supply chain (1995–2005)
  • supply-chains of multi-nationals connect East and West
  • the world is interconnected by mobile phone and internet like never before
  • world-wide social movements question the free global market
  • hottest decade since records began
thermo globalization twenty years in the future
Thermo-globalization Twenty years in the future?
  • climate change leading to rising temperatures
  • first four planetary contractions not predicted
  • the fifth is predictable in its impact on economics and society (e.g. Stern Review)

Read a summary of the Stern Review on the BBC website

roland robertson
Roland Robertson

Now we can turn to the work of Roland Robertson, one of the most influential thinkers on globalization

Robertson’s work emphasises the historical dimensions of globalization

He traces the existence of global consciousness back to the ancient world of the Romans

romans go global
Romans go global

The Romans understood the interconnected nature of the known world

The Roman historian Polybius saw that by conquering vast portions of the world Rome had created ‘complex interrelations between hitherto unconnected people, events and places’ (Robertson and Inglis, 2004: 41)

According to Polybius, the affairs of Italy and Africa are connected with those of Asia and Greece and constitute an ‘organic whole’

rome global city
Rome: global city

Like global cities of today, Rome contained peoples from all over the world

By the first century AD Rome had trade links with China, India, Malaysia

Rome was the ‘emporium of the world’

is globalization really ancient
Is globalization really ancient?

Robertson and Inglis aim to show that a global consciousness developed very early in history

Not everyone would agree with this historical account of globalization

For example, Wallerstein draws a distinction between the world empires of the ancient world (based on military domination) and the more recent capitalist world system (Holton, 2005: 34)

robertson s five phases of globalization
Robertson’s five phases of globalization

Phase 1 – Germinal

  • C15th – mid C18th
  • centring on Europe: voyages of exploration and colonialism
  • growth of nation-state challenges pre-modern world of empires
  • development of Gregorian Calendar
phase 2 incipient
Phase 2 - Incipient
  • mid C18th – 1870s
  • rapid spread of nation-state and system of international relations
  • admission of non-European world to international system
  • International exhibitions e.g. Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace 1851
  • International Red Cross established 1863
phase 3 take off when did the olympic movement adopt this familiar flag
Phase 3 – Take-offWhen did the Olympic Movement adopt this familiar flag?
  • 1870s – 1920s
  • crystallization of international system of nation-states
  • growth of global communications: telephone, telegraph, radio, aeroplane
  • global competitions e.g. Olympics, Nobel Prizes
  • World War I
  • world time: Greenwich meridian and 24 time zones (1884)
phase 4 struggle for hegemony
Phase 4 – Struggle for hegemony
  • 1920s – 60s
  • globe-wide conflicts (WWII and Cold War)
  • potential for global catastrophe (nuclear war)
  • League of Nations (1910); UN (1945)
  • increased interest in humanity: holocaust and Hiroshima
  • development of superpowers and Third World
phase 5 uncertainty
Phase 5 - Uncertainty
  • 1960s – present
  • end of Cold War
  • global consciousness: ‘one world’, ‘fragile earth’
  • space flights and moon missions
  • development of global communications technology
  • environmental movements
  • role of IMF and World Bank
concluding comments
Concluding comments

According to Robertson and others globalization is a ‘long-run process of diffusion across borders and boundaries, moving outward from multiple sources and centres’ (Holton, 1998: 49).

Scholte (2005: 117) emphasises that ‘when conceived as the rise of transplanetary and supraterritorial social connections, globalization is mainly new to contemporary history’.

It is easy to see that the debate on the origins and history of globalization is very much alive.

The debates are not just relevant to our understanding of the past - looking at the history of globalization also encourages us to think about the future:

  • Is further globalization inevitable?
  • Can globalization be reversed?
  • What forces of de-globalization exist?
  • Holton, R. 1998: Globalization and the Nation-State (Palgrave)
  • Holton, R. 2005: Making Globalization (Palgrave)
  • MacGillivray, A. 2006: A Brief History of Globalization (Robinson)
  • Robertson, R. 1992: Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture (Sage)
  • Robertson, R. & Inglis, D. 2004: ‘The global animus: in the tracks of world consciousness’ Globalizations 1(1)
  • Scholte, J.A. 2005: Globalization: A Critical Introduction (2nd Edition) (Palgrave)