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Globalization (or globalisation—see spelling differences) is the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas, and other aspects of culture. Put in simple terms, globalization refers to processes that increase world-wide exchanges of national and cultural resources. Advances in transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, including the rise of the Internet, are major factors in globalization, generating further interdependence of economic and cultural activities.


Humans have interacted over long distances for thousands of years. The overland Silk Road that connected Asia, Africa, and Europe is a good example of the transformative power of translocal exchange that existed in the "Old World". Philosophy, religion, language, the arts, and other aspects of culture spread and mixed as nations exchanged products and ideas. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Europeans made important discoveries in their exploration of the oceans, including the start of transatlantic travel to the "New World" of the Americas. Global movement of people, goods, and ideas expanded significantly in the following centuries. Early in the 19th century, the development of new forms of transportation (such as the steamship and railroads) and telecommunications that "compressed" time and space allowed for increasingly rapid rates of global interchange. In the 20th century, road vehicles, intermodal transport, and airlines made transportation even faster. The advent of electronic communications, most notably mobile phones and the Internet, connected billions of people in new ways by the beginning of the 21st century.

The term globalization has been in increasing use since the mid-1980s and especially since the mid-1990s. In 2000, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) identified four basic aspects of globalization: trade and transactions, capital and investment movements, migration and movement of people and the dissemination of knowledge. Further, environmental challenges such as climate change, cross-boundary water and air pollution, and over-fishing of the ocean are linked with globalization. Globalizing processes affect and are affected by business and work organization, economics, socio-cultural resources, and the natural environment.

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Ulrich Beck
B. 1944

Ulrich Beck is a German sociologist. He coined the term risk society and was a professor of Sociology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich until 2009. He holds a professorship at Munich University and at the London School of Economics. Beck currently studies modernization, ecological problems, individualization and globalization. Recently he has also embarked on exploring the changing conditions of work in a world of increasing global capitalism, declining influence of unions and flexibilisation of the labour process, a new theory rooted in the concept of cosmopolitanism. Beck has also contributed a number of new words in German sociology, including "risk society", "second modernity", reflexive modernization and brazilianization (Brasilianisierung).
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Animated map showing the development of colonial empires from 1492 to present.

Animated map showing the development of colonial empires from 1492 to present.

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Toussaint Hessisches Volksfest
Cultural globalization refers to the transmission of ideas, meanings and values across national borders. This process is marked by the common consumption of cultures that have been diffused by the Internet, popular culture, and international travel. The circulation of cultures enables individuals to partake in extended social relations outside the borders. The creation and expansion of such social relations is not merely observed on a material level. Cultural globalization involves the formation of shared norms and knowledge with which people associate their individual and collective cultural identities, and increasing interconnectedness among different populations and cultures.
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