Connectivist Approach to Globalization

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George Modelski et al. :

"The conception of globalization advanced here may best be described as institutional because it seeks to explain the rise of great planetary institutions that include free trade regimes and transnational enterprises, global leadership, and global governance, world social movements, and world opinion. Downloaded by [University of Tasmania] at 09:31 30 November 2014 An institutional approach might best be contrasted with a “connectivist” approach. In that latter view, globalization is defined, to give one example from a recent report, as the “growing interconnectedness reflected in the extended flows of information, technology, capital, goods, services, and people throughout the world” (National Intelligence Council, 2004, p. 27).

Viewing “certain aspects” of these developments as “irreversible,” the report raises globalization to the status of a “mega-trend” (we describe it as “process”):

- “a force so ubiquitous that it will substantially reshape all of the other major trends in the world of 2020.”

Such a global mega-trend can be visualized with the aid of aggregate data on world flows (National Research Council, 2004, p. 27). That is the pure “connectivist” position. Another facet of globalization viewed as connectivity is “openness.” To operate freely connections require open societies because connections thrive most in the absence of barriers—barriers to trade, to capital movements, to migrants, or to the diffusion of ideas and practices. That is why another set of indices of globalization is country indices of openness—the degree to which nations are accommodative to the world system. Openness is a property of national systems, and nations can be ranked according to the degree to which they are acceptant of world flows. The measurement and analysis of global interactions yields much of the substance of the phenomenon of globalization. Trade flows, capital movements, travel and migrations do indeed make the world more—and at times less— interdependent. Scholars judge the progress of that process on the basic of empirical observations. The mapping of connectivity frequently uncovers variety of networks—trade, financial, social—which are structural features of the world system. Yet these developments also fluctuate, and sometimes even collapse utterly. It is widely noted, for instance, that the hopes for world peace aroused by the expansion of world trade in the latter part of the 19th century were to be rudely dashed in 1914, and what followed was a substantial reduction, if not derailment, of an apparent trend toward globalization. And yet we are not entitled to say that the process as such had then come to a complete halt, only a pause. Most of all, the mere ascertainment of trends is no answer to the question: Why do we globalize in the first place?"