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For a complementary globalization lexicon at Tilburg University, click here.

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Beijing Declaration. Principles and goals adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, September 1995. Stresses women's right to equality, emancipation, and access to resources. Expresses growing world consensus on status of women promoted by previous world conferences. Click here for text.

Bretton Woods. Town in New Hampshire, U.S., where WW II allies agreed in 1944 on shape of post-war world economic order. Name used to describe that order, in particular two organizations founded there- International Monetary Fund and World Bank-designed to promote exchange rate stability and economic development within free market system. Key change in early 70s: from fixed exchange rates set by governments to floating rates set by supply and demand for currencies. For IMF history, click here.


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Civil Society. Relationships not controlled by the state or, more commonly, all forms of association outside of state and market. Currently also denotes work of nongovernmental organizations. Used by critics and movement activists to refer to source of resistance to and the sphere of social life to be protected against globalization. For examples of term in use by UN, click here; by World Bank, click here.

Cold War. Hostile relationship, reflected in arms race and competition for global influence, between Soviet bloc and U.S.-led NATO, 1945-1991. "Iron curtain" across central Europe marked key division in "bipolar" world until fall of Berlin Wall, 1989. End variously traced to internal difficulties of Soviet regime, pressure from U.S. arms buildup, and resistance to Communism in eastern Europe.

Colonialism. Permanent rule of one country or region by another, usually based on conquest. Feature of European expansion since sixteenth century, as Western powers took control of people and territory across much of globe. Last wave in Africa, late-nineteenth century. South American colonies gained independence in nineteenth century, African and Asian after WW II.

Commodification. Tendency to turn goods and services, even land and labor, into products for sale in market; used critically to describe loss of human qualities in capitalist production and exchange

Commodity Chains. Production processes carried out by "interorganizational networks clustered around one commodity or product, linking households, enterprises, and states to one another within the world economy," with greater share of control and wealth going to network nodes in core countries (G. Gereffi and M. Korzeniewicz, eds., Commodity Chains and Global Capitalism, 1994, p. 2). Refers to combination of spatial distribution of production across globe, flexible specialization of producers in particular countries, and intricate integration of dispersed production stages. Characteristic of many commodities, ranging from cars to athletic shoes to illegal drugs.

Communism. Ideology centered on eliminating class inequality via collective ownership of means of production; form of one-party government controlling economy and society in name of such ideology. Rooted in work of Karl Marx and other nineteenth-century critics of industrial capitalism. After heyday in mid-twentieth century, influence declined with demise of Soviet Union and other Communist regimes (1989-91).

Comparative Advantage. Standard economic concept accounting for gains from trade due to tendency of countries to export goods they produce relatively efficiently. "A country has comparative advantage in producing a good if the opportunity cost [value of opportunities forgone in making a choice] of producing that good in terms of other goods is lower in that country than it is in other countries" (P. Krugman and M. Obstfeld, International Economics: Theory and Policy, 1997, p. 14). In particular cases, used to justify specialization by countries in international division of labor.

Conditionality. Characteristic of IMF approach to lending to countries in debt or crisis; specifically, requiring policy changes and structural reform as condition for receiving funds (see IMF)

Core. Wealthy countries with dominant role in world economy. Geographic equivalent of capitalist ruling class. World-system theory designation for areas that control capital, operate with leading-edge technology and free labor, are supported by strong states, can set global terms of trade and exploit regional division of labor.

Cosmopolitanism. Attitude of concern for world as whole, interest in universal principles; commonly contrasted with nationalism, particularism

Cultural Imperialism. Form of cultural hegemony enabling some states to impose worldview, values, and lifestyles on others. Term used by critics of American global influence to describe how U.S. dominates others, e.g., by disseminating ideology of consumerism, hedonistic popular culture, or particular model of free-market society.


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Debt Crisis. Widespread inability in 1980s among developing countries to service loans, and resulting strains in domestic development, due to rising oil prices, higher real interest rates, reduced lending, and declining exports, with total debt burden reaching $1 trillion in 1986. Addressed through debt management led by IMF, involving new loans on condition of structural adjustment of state finances. For overview by an anti-debt organization, click here.

Deterritorialization. Expansion of interaction and relationships not tied to or dependent on particular localities; reduced attachment to place or decreased identification with neighborhood or country resulting therefrom.


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Epistemic communities. Transnational networks of experts (D. Held) with authority to judge knowledge and define principles pertaining to specific sets of issues

Export-processing zones. Also free trade zones. Selected areas in industrializing countries marked by low taxes and tariffs, subsidized infrastructure, and exemption from some regulations, designed to attract foreign direct investment and stimulate growth


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Foreign Direct Investment. Investment by firm based in one country in actual productive capacity or other real assets in another country, normally through creation of a subsidiary by a multinational corporation. Measure of globalization of capital. Effects on growth and inequality in developing countries disputed.

Fundamentalism. Worldview or movement centered on restoring religious tradition or sacred text as guiding force in society, usually in opposition to ideas or practices considered modern. Term originates with American Protestant conservatives in early twentieth century; since used for type of evangelicalism. Commonly applied to efforts of Islamist groups or regimes favoring conservative morality and strict application of Islamic law. Appeal partly attributed to dislocations due to globalization; in turn influences global debate about process. Exemplified by policies of Islamic Republic of Iran (1979-).


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G7. Group of seven major economic powers (US, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Canada), engaged in regular consultation on financial stability and economic growth (occasionally G8 in deference to Russia; see University of Toronto G8 Information Centre)

Globalization. Expansion of global linkages, organization of social life on global scale, and growth of global consciousness, hence consolidation of world society.

1. "[T]he inexorable integration of markets, nation-states, and technologies to a degree never witnessed before-in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations and nation-states to reach around the world farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before . . . . the spread of free-market capitalism to virtually every country in the world " (T.L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, 1999, p. 7-8).

2. "The compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole . . . . concrete global interdependence and consciousness of the global whole in the twentieth century" (R. Robertson, Globalization, 1992, p. 8).

3. "A social process in which the constraints of geography on social and cultural arrangements recede and in which people become increasingly aware that they are receding (M. Waters, Globalization, 1995, p. 3).

4. "The historical transformation constituted by the sum of particular forms and instances of . . . . [m]aking or being made global (i) by the active dissemination of practices, values, technology and other human products throughout the globe (ii) when global practices and so on exercise an increasing influence over people's lives (iii) when the globe serves as a focus for, or a premise in shaping, human activities" (M. Albrow, The Global Age, 1996, p. 88).

5. Integration on the basis of project pursuing "market rule on a global scale" (P. McMichael, Development and Social Change, 2000, p. xxiii, 149).

6. "As experienced from below, the dominant form of globalization means a historical transformation: in the economy, of livelihoods and modes of existence; in politics, a loss in the degree of control exercised locally . . . . and in culture, a devaluation of a collectivity's achievements . . . . Globalization is emerging as a political response to the expansion of market power . . . . [It] is a domain of knowledge." (J.H. Mittelman, The Globalization Syndrome, 2000). For views related to 5. and 6., click here or here.

Global governance. Rules and institutions for managing and regulating actions or processes of global import; specifically, object of international reform efforts pursuing design of democratic transnational institutions and control over economic activity (see also Issues, #6)

Glocalization. Process by which transsocietal ideas or institutions take specific forms in particular (i.e., local) places.


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Human Rights. Rights of persons to freedom of speech and conscience, equal treatment, work and health, among others, as defined in Universal Declaration adopted by UN in 1948, supplemented by 1960s Covenants on social, economic, political, and civil rights. Variously interpreted by states, hence subject of global debate. For Declaration, click here.

Hybridization. Mixing of elements (e.g., musical styles) from different cultures or origins in particular contexts; used to express active and creative engagement of groups in distinctively adapting global ideas or products


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IGO. Intergovernmental organization. Formed by and membership restricted to states. Examples: UN, NATO.

Imagined communities. Definition of nations as finite, sovereign communities, imagined rather than face-to-face or primordial, stressing deliberate creation of binding tradition and shared identity (B. Anderson)

INGO. International nongovernmental organization. Members can be individuals, companies, or associations. Examples: Amnesty International, Red Cross, International Olympic Committee, International Organization for Standardization.

Imperialism. See Colonialism.

Indigenous Peoples. Groups held to be original residents of certain areas, especially nonliterate groups under threat of displacement due to development, now possessing globally recognized claims to autonomy and identity fostered by supportive movements.

Internet. Network of computers facilitating electronic communication across globe. Rooted in 1960s U.S. defense research, came into widespread use in 1990s via implementation of World Wide Web.


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Multiculturalism. Doctrine asserting value of different cultures coexisting within single society; globally, vision of cultural diversity deliberately fostered and protected (see also Issues, #5)


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Neoliberalism. Late-twentieth century variant of theory that competition among businesses in market with limited state regulation best fosters growth; specifically, advocacy of free enterprise in competitive global markets and movement of goods and capital unburdened by tariffs and regulations; commonly, term of opprobrium used by critics of capitalist ideology to denote emphasis on market expansion as value in itself, held to cause destruction of "collective structures which may impede the pure market logic" (P. Bourdieu; cf. P. Treanor and Global Issues)

New International Division of Labor. Spread of different stages of manufacturing to locations in different countries, to exploit differences in factor costs and economies of scale; more generally, since late 1970s, process in which especially Asian countries assume key roles in certain industries (cf. commodity chains)

NGO. Nongovernmental organization. Many domestic NGOs connected internationally. Cf. INGO.

NWICO. New World Information and Communication Order (also New International Information Order), proposal by developing country and communist representatives in UNESCO in 1970s for balanced news coverage through multiple channels to counter Western dominance of news organizations and content. Subject of unresolved debate into 1980s.


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Orientalism. Historically, scholarship by Western experts on Asia; currently, distorted representation of non-Western culture by Western intellectuals, attributed to political bias and assumed superiority. Influentially used by E. Said in Orientalism to criticize Western treatment of Arab culture as reflective of historical domination. For details, click here.


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Particularism. Values or practices valid only for specific group in own setting as basis for distinct identity, also view emphasizing importance thereof. Commonly contrasted with, or criticized on grounds of, universalism.

Periphery. Poor, exploited regions, historically dominated by strong, wealthy countries. World-system theory concept denoting militarily weak regions economically dominated by capitalist core, subject to unequal exchange, limited to raw material exports, reliant on labor-intensive production.

Protectionism. Effort to shield domestic producers against foreign competition via tariffs, quotas, etc. Widely reduced under global free trade agreements; popular among critics of trade for countering job loss and environmental harm; criticized by economists for ignoring comparative advantage doctrine.


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Realism. Theory asserting primacy of states and state interests in international affairs; claims that states act rationally in pursuit of power, international system is "anarchy," and international politics is separate from domestic; influential but disputed (cf. V. Ferraro)

Rio Declaration. Statement of principles calling for worldwide environmental protection by 1992 UN "Earth Summit" conference in Rio de Janeiro. Click here for text.


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Structural Adjustment. Policy of reducing government expenditures, lowering inflation, limiting imports, devaluing currency, and increasing economic efficiency, required by IMF of countries in debt as condition for debt restructuring (acronym: SAP). Criticized for inducing economic decline, decreased social protection. For IMF review of criticism, click here.

Subaltern. Vantage point of historically subordinate peoples, recently revalued in literature and scholarship, from which to reinterpret experience of oppression and assess global processes

Sustainable Development. Policy of promoting growth consistent with protection of environment, e.g., via shift to renewable resources and local community participation in development projects. Compromise reached in international negotiation, recognizing interests of developed and developing countries. Normative principle with mixed practical effect.


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Time-Space Compression. Increased pace of life and overcoming of spatial barriers, through communication and transportation technology, resulting in apparent shrinking of time to the present and globe to a single space, altering everyday experience of social relations and awareness of global interdependence. Cf. D. Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity, 1990, p. 240.

Transparency. Evolving global standard for state institutions and international organizations, requiring open processes according to general rules subject to monitoring; regarded as basis of accountability, diminishing corruption (see Transparency International; World Bank Institute)

TSMO. Transnational Social Movement Organization. Formally organized effort by activists from multiple countries focused on global issue. Examples: Service for Peace and Justice, EarthAction. See J. Smith et al., eds., Transnational Social Movements and Global Politics, 1997.


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Universalism. Principles considered valid for all across globe, or doctrine emphasizing importance thereof. Example: universal human rights, or advocacy thereof. Commonly contrasted with, or criticized on grounds of, particularism.


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Westphalia, Peace of. Agreement among European powers, at end of Thirty Year War, dividing continent into independently governed territories with distinct religious identities. Considered origin of modern system of sovereign states.

World polity theory. Holds that proliferation of models and principles for global action, including sovereign state and individual, shape globe through institutional enactment, creating similarity across societal boundaries.

World-system theory. Holds that sixteenth-century capitalist expansion from European core founded now fully global hierarchy of regions and geographic division of labor, enabling owners of capital, supported by strong states, to profit from control of cheap labor and unequal exchange. See I. Wallerstein, The Modern World-System, Vol. 1-3, 1974-; for papers by Wallerstein and colleagues, click here; for relevant journal, click here.


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Copyright 2000-2001 - Frank Lechner