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Edited by Jonathan Michie
4 Measures of globalisation and their misinterpretation* Bob Sutcliffe and Andrew Glyn Almost everybody seems to believe that globalisation is happening at a headlong pace, and is the dening characteristic of contemporary capitalism. Some like it; others see it as the source of all evil. But most see it as both unprecedented and irresistible. In an earlier paper (Glyn and Sutcliffe, 1992) we analysed indicators of economic internationalisation in their historical perspective and found reason for serious scepticism with regard to the image of world capitalism presented by those who believe that it has been unprecedentedly transformed by globalisation; similar points have been made by a variety of authors from various perspectives (Sachs and Warner, 1995; Hirst and Thompson, 1996). This chapter seeks to reinforce this ‘globalo-scepticism’, paying particular attention to why different statistical measures of recent trends suggest alternative conclusions and to which of them are the most meaningful. We do not question that globalisation in one of its meanings – the world-wide spread of capitalist relations in production and distribution – has been a major feature of the last 50 years. This has taken the form of the decline in peasant production, the absorption of domestic workers, mainly women, into the paid labour force and most recently the decline of state productive activity in both communist and non-communist countries. The globalisation debate, however, is mainly couched in terms of another concept: the increasing international integration of economic activity. This is seen to have been the central event of the current...
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