The term ‘globalisation’ is widely used to describe a variety of economic, cultural, social, and political changes that have shaped the world over the past 50-odd years. Because it is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, globalisation has been credited with a wide range of powers and effects. Its proponents claim that it is both ‘natural’ and an inevitable outcome of technological progress, and creates positive economic and political convergences. Critics argue that globalisation is hegemonic and antagonistic to local and national economies. This article argues that globalisation is a form of capitalist expansion that entails the integration of local and national economies into a global, unregulated market economy. Although economic in its structure, globalisation is equally a political phenomenon, shaped by negotiations and interactions between institutions of transnational capital, nation states, and international institutions. Its main driving forces are institutions of global capitalism – especially transnational corporations – but it also needs the firm hand of states to create enabling environments for it to take root. Globalisation is always accompanied by liberal democracy, which facilitates the establishment of a neo-liberal state and policies that permit globalisation to flourish. The article discusses the relationship between globalisation and development and points out that some of the most common assumptions promoted by its proponents are contradictory to the reality of globalisation; and that globalisation is resisted by more than half of the globe’s population because it is not capable of delivering on its promises of economic well being and progress for all.
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