IS GLOBALIZATION NEW?

Globalization is by definition what characterizes the world today insofar as it is different from yesterday. Although it has grown out of what we knew and studied before, the processes that changed our relationship with each other, between our species and others and with the planet as a whole -- what is happening now is unprecedented not only in speed, and in scale, but in quality. We are still on the trajectory that began with the migration of homo sapiens out of Africa 100,000 years ago, but we are on the verge of a new socio-cultural phase of human experience — in which as many as ten billion individuals of one species will belong to one community in real time, irrespective of geographical location. The comprehensiveness of current change is so new that it was beyond the imagination of the golden age of science fiction fifty years ago.

But that does not mean that every part of the world is affected by globalization in the same way. Globalization is not homogenization. Globalization is a gradual, irregular and uneven process. In its most simple terms, it is the recontextualization of daily life in successively more and more different parts of the world since the latter part of the 20th century. Globalization affects different places and different dimensions of daily life in different ways, and to different degrees. But it continues to gather pace, and it is changing the quality of life everywhere, whether we like it or not.

Globalization involves the progressive inclusion of every part of every country into a single unitary but not necessarily unified community, irrespective of the variables that governed our ability to interact in the past, such as distance from cosmopolitan centers and geographical isolation.