Online Discussion #2 – The History of Globalization


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I would like you to consider the scholarly debates about the history of globalization. Is globalization a new phenomenon, or does it have ancient origins? There is no definitive answer to this question, and scholars continue to debate when globalization started. Your textbook author, Manfred B. Steger (2020) notes that globalization “is an ancient process that, over many centuries, has crossed distinct qualitative thresholds” (p. 20). In other words, history shows us different levels and stages of globalization. You may or may not agree with the author. Do you think globalization is a new phenomenon? Or, do you think it has been a process that has been underway for centuries? In this discussion, you’ll highlight your own opinions.

Background Information

Steger (2020) walks us through five periods of history, and shows how globalization has developed over time. In the prehistoric period, (10,000 BCE – 3,500 BCE), globalization was very new, and people were just starting to settle new continents. “Even in this earliest phase of globalization, contact among thousands of hunter and gatherer bands occurred regularly while remaining geographically limited” (p. 21). In the premodern period, from 3,500 BCE – 1,500 CE, new technologies developed, which facilitated “the spread of ideas and inventions” and accelerated globalization (p. 24). In the early modern period, from 1500-1750, the Renaissance and Enlightenment led to new ways of thinking and even more sophisticated technology. This era led to increased contact and trade amongst nations. During the modern period, from 1750 until the 1980s, globalization really developed. The capitalist economy developed, industry grew, and global contacts dramatically increased. Technology continued to develop that would facilitate these connections. Now, we are living in the contemporary period, which started in the 1980s and continues into the present-day. Today, we forge connections across wide geographical spaces, and the rise of the internet and social media continues to shape our everyday connections and interactions.

So when did globalization really begin? While Steger (2020) and many other scholars define globalization as an ancient process, not all academics agree on this matter. For example, the famous sociologist Anthony Giddens argues that “the driving force behind globalization is the information revolution” (The Carnegie Endowment, 2000, para. 5). In his classic book Runaway World, he writes that “we are the first generation to live in global society, whose contours we can as yet only dimly see. It is shaking up our existing ways of life, no matter where we happen to be. This is…. emerging in an anarchic, haphazard, fashion… it is not settled or secure, but fraught with anxieties, as well as scarred by deep divisions. Many of us feel in the grip of forces over which we have no control” (Giddens, 1999, para. 33). In other words, scholars like Anthony Giddens believe that globalization is new, multifaceted, and wide-ranging, with both positive and negative consequences. What do you think?

Guiding Questions for Original Post (Part I)

Considering this scholarly debate, I’d like you to form your own conclusions about globalization. Do you think it is an ancient process or a relatively new phenomenon? In your original post for this discussion, please respond to at least 2 of the questions below, using evidence, examples, and citations from at least one class textbook to support your ideas:

  • What evidence does Steger (2020) present in Chapter 2 to highlight the ancient origins of globalization? Do you agree with the author’s logic? Why or why not?
  • Do you think globalization is an ancient process, or a relatively new phenomenon? How did you reach this conclusion?
  • What are some specific examples of globalization in each of the five historical periods that Steger (2020) discusses? (Prehistoric, Premodern, Early Modern, Modern, & Contemporary)
  • According to Box 3 on p. 32, what does Steger (2020) say that Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels thought about globalization?
  • In your view, what is the connection between technology and globalization? How advanced does technology need to be in order to facilitate globalization?
  • How did globalization accelerate in the modern period (from 1750-1980s)? Provide some examples from the text.
  • What are some new developments of globalization in the last decade? Provide some examples from your own life.
  • Watch the video clip below about globalization, (or any short excerpt from it). What did you learn? Do you agree with any of the theories presented? If so, which resonates with you?
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