In this chapter we assess the specific contribution of economic geographers to the debates on the economic dimension of globalization. We present key characteristics of geographical thinking on globalization and emphasize how this is deeply anchored in a particular understanding of social reality which stresses both a rich ontology (of places and actors) and the role of a wide variety of social structures (from capitalism to ethnic solidarity) in determining drivers and outcomes of concrete economic processes. This ontological viewpoint is very much intertwined with a pluralistic epistemological position allowing drawing theoretical notions from a wide set of (sub)disciplines and an openness towards methodologies (which encompass quantitative as well as qualitative methods). These scientific-philosophical underpinnings distinguish economic-geography approaches to globalization from those in mainstream economics. We will illustrate this by looking at how economic geographers have dealt with the relationship between globalization and, respectively, the institutional set-up of the nation state and the role of regions and their cross-border linkages. We show that a rich understanding of both places and actors is essential to get to grips with concrete processes of globalization.
Robert C. Kloosterman and Pieter Terhorst
Robert C. Kloosterman, Virginie Mamadouh and Pieter Terhorst
This chapter starts with a brief history of the concept ‘globalization’. It highlights the rather surprising rapid emergence of the concept in the 1990s when it acquired a very prominent status in both academic and public debates. After that, some of the many meanings of globalization are explored. More in particular, the focus is on the plurality of geographical expressions as well as of current geographical approaches to the manifold processes of globalization. The chapter argues that the spatial dimension – in marked contrast to the temporal dimension – has long been neglected in social sciences in general. Current processes of globalization require an a priori acknowledgment of the fundamental role of space as these processes may be articulated in very different ways in different places. Geographical approaches, characterized by a sensitivity to space, place and spatial scales, are highly relevant to understand processes of globalization.