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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Theories of globalization II
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
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;
Read a summary of the Stern Review on the BBC website http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6098362.stm
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
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’
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’
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)
Phase 1 – Germinal
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: