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IS GLOBALIZATION CIVILIZING, DESTRUCTIVE OR FEEBLE? A CRITIQUE OF FIVE KEY DEBATES IN THE SOCIAL-SCIENCE LITERATURE Mauro F. Guillén The Wharton School and Department of Sociology University of Pennsylvania 2016 Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370 215-573-6267 guillen@wharton.upenn.edu Annual Review of Sociology Vol. 27 (2001) June 2000 Version 1 IS GLOBALIZATION CIVILIZING, DESTRUCTIVE OR FEEBLE? A CRITIQUE OF FIVE KEY DEBATES IN THE SOCIAL-SCIENCE LITERATURE ABSTRACT
  IS GLOBALIZATION CIVILIZING, DESTRUCTIVE OR FEEBLE?A CRITIQUE OF FIVE KEY DEBATES IN THE SOCIAL-SCIENCE LITERATUREMauro F. GuillénThe Wharton School and Department of SociologyUniversity of Pennsylvania2016 Steinberg Hall-Dietrich HallPhiladelphia, PA 19104-6370215-573-6267guillen@wharton.upenn.edu  Annual Review of Sociology Vol. 27 (2001)June 2000 Version  1 IS GLOBALIZATION CIVILIZING, DESTRUCTIVE OR FEEBLE?A CRITIQUE OF FIVE KEY DEBATES IN THE SOCIAL-SCIENCE LITERATUREABSTRACTThe sociological, economic, political and anthropological literatures are devotingincreasing attention to globalization. This chapter discusses the various connotations of theterm and puts it in historical perspective. Existing theoretical and empirical research onglobalization is organized around five key issues or questions: is it really happening, does itproduce convergence, does it undermine the authority of nation-states, is globality differentfrom modernity, and is a global culture in the making? A plea is made for a comparativesociology of globalization that is sensitive to local variations and to how agency, interest andresistance mediate in the relationship between globalization causes and outcomes.Keywords: Globalization; Convergence; Nation-State; Modernity; Global Culture.  2 The bulk of the earth must not only be spherical, but not large incomparison with the size of other stars.—Aristotle (384-322 BC ), as quoted by Dreyer (1953:118).Globalization is one of the most contested topics in the social sciences. Observers andtheorists of globalization have variously argued that the rapid increase in cross-bordereconomic, social, technological and cultural exchange is civilizing, destructive or feeble, toborrow Albert Hirschman’s (1982) celebrated metaphors. Harold Levitt’s “Globalization of Markets” (1983) or Kenichi Ohmae’s Borderless World (1990) promise boundless prosperityand consumer joy as a result of globalization, i.e. the global as civilizing. In sharp contrast tothis view, the historian Paul Kennedy warns in Preparing for the Twenty-First Century (1993)against our lack of structures to deal with a global world, while political economist DaniRodrik rings a similar bell of alarm in Has Globalization Gone Too Far? (1997) concerningthe increasingly free international economic and financial flows (see also Mittelman 2000).Like in the civilizing view, the destructive interpretation regards globalization as leading toconvergence, albeit predicting harmful rather than beneficial consequences. Unlike theadherents to either the civilizing or the destructive views of globalization, some seeglobalization as a feeble process that has not yet challenged the nation-state and otherfundamental features of the modern world, namely, Paul Hirst and Grahame Thompson’sGlobalization in Question (1996), and Robert Wade’s “Globalization and Its Limits” (1996).In this chapter I first define globalization and its timing. Then, I review the maincontributions of the various social sciences to research on globalization, with an emphasis onsociological perspectives. I organize the discussion and critique around five key debates orquestions: is globalization really happening, does it produce convergence, does it undermine  3 the authority of nation-states, is globality different from modernity, and is a global culture inthe making? WHAT IS GLOBALIZATION? Intuitively, globalization is a process fueled by, and resulting in, increasing cross-borderflows of goods, services, money, people, information, and culture (Held et al. 1999:16).Sociologist Anthony Giddens (1990:64; 1991:21) proposes to regard globalization as adecoupling or “distanciation” between space and time, while geographer David Harvey (1989)and political scientist James Mittelman (1996) observe that globalization entails a“compression” of space and time, a shrinking of the world. Sociologist Manuel Castells(1996:92) emphasizes the informational aspects of the global economy when he defines it as“an economy with the capacity to work as a unit in real time on a planetary scale.”Management scholar Stephen Kobrin (1997:147-148) describes globalization as driven not byforeign trade and investment but by increasing technological scale and information flows.Political scientist Robert Gilpin (1987:389) defines globalization as the “increasinginterdependence of national economies in trade, finance, and macroeconomic policy.”Sociologist Roland Robertson (1992:8) argues that globalization “refers both to thecompression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole.”Also sociologist Martin Albrow (1997:88) defines globalization as the “diffusion of practices,values and technology that have an influence on people’s lives worldwide.” I propose tocombine the perspectives of Robertson and Albrow, and define globalization as a processleading to greater interdependence and mutual awareness (reflexivity) among economic,
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