Pondering Globalization

What is globalization? My definition of globalization is this: the web of material and informational connections that spans the globe and includes within it about 20 percent of the world population held together through socio-economic, political, military, and religious links.

The fact is that the majority of the world’s population is not part of the globalization — or at least not directly part of globalization. I think of the vast telecommunications network that spans the globe to be somewhat congruent with the globalization as defined above. Indeed, the state of the telecommunications infrastructure of any place in the world could be used as a proxy for determining how globalized it is.

For instance, India is among the less globalized of the major economies — China is more globalized compared to India. China’s telecommunications infrastructure is now about 10 times greater than India’s (although in 1989 India had a higher telephone density.) In India, the urban areas are more globalized compared to the rural areas, and so on. The US and other advanced industrialized countries are the most globalized and have the most advanced and developed telecommunications networks.

I was discussing this with Steve Stohs, a friend in Berkeley, and he added that there is a virtual side of globalization, characterized by the flow of ideas across communications networks, which is dual to the physical side of globalization, which is manifested in a flow of goods and materials. The virtual side is necessary for the physical side to function, but not vice versa.

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