Concept and Reality in
Globalization seems to be the most fashionable economic concept of the 1990s. 1 The precise meaning of this term, however, is far from clear. Sometimes it is used in a relatively restricted descriptive sense to refer to a variety of trends in contemporary economic and political life. It is also used in a much broader sense to refer to the emergence of "new forms of world interdependence, in which . . . there are no 'others.'" 2 The concern here is with a closer consideration of both the narrower and broader conceptions of globalization, in order to to decide whether in fact any new or distinctive developments in the world order may be said to constitute a uniquely late-modern, or postmodern, kind of global identity.
The chapter is presented in five parts. The first considers briefly the great dream (or myth) that has inspired defenders of globalization. The second looks at the most important doubts that have been expressed about it. The third tries to step back from the dream and the doubts, in order to give a more analytical account of the globalization concept. The fourth part considers the political options that are open to us in responding to it. The final part attempts to give some idea of the problems that the future holds for societies, both developed and developing, which commit themselves to competition in the global market.
In order to understand why talk of globalization has become fashionable, it is necessary to remember that it is not merely an analytical concept, but also a highly emotive one. Its emotive appeal is at two levels, one of which is political, while the other extends much deeper. At the political level, the appeal is partly