Globalization has become an essential part of the analyses of presentday societal change, conceptualizing processes of scale expansion and increasing transnational interaction. This includes interfirm relations, operations within internationalized market-structures, as well as the emergence of transgovernmental networks and policy communities, transnational cause groups and many other international networks. Most studies of the economic dimensions of globalization emphasize their homogenizing effects and tend to present these processes as operating with a great degree of autonomy. Globalization is pictured as an unstoppable force moving along uncontrollably by individual actors: corporations as well as nation states. The state in particular is being viewed as losing out to globalizing processes, its policies becoming more and more driven by external forces that dictate the options. It cannot be denied that state actors and different agencies within particular jurisdictions, together with private sector partners, are increasingly integrated into transgovernmental networks and policy communities. The state's traditional reach and authority and its capability to act as a developmental state is being challenged by global transformations from above and emerging regionalisms and interregional coalitions from below. But do these developments result in a downright surrender of sovereignty, as the radical "globalizers" do suggest?
The image of homogenization -- supposedly the result of such a steamroller-type process -- should be rejected and replaced by a more realistic picture. Globalization processes, as we observe around us, tend to have contradictory effects. They both homogenize and fragment within and between countries. Rather than creating one big economy or one big polity, globalizing processes also divide, fragment and polarize. Real differences do persist and often reflect conscious choices in the "global" political economy. Further, globalization is not the exclusive result of the "blind" mechanisms of world economic development. It is based in the concrete actions and interactions of actors involved in a myriad of decisionmaking processes on the various scale levels: supranational, national and local. Also, it is a multifaceted phenomenon.