The term «globalisation» is at the heart of a tension that’s as much semantic as it is political. Strictly defined, it designates the supposed extension of economic reasoning to all human activity, while stressing its limitation to the terrestrial globe. But the term “globalisation” can also designate the planet-wide extension of exchanges, be they cultural, political, economic, or other. Two kinds of conception, “unitary” and “conflictual” come into conflict when explaining this phenomenon:

  • The unitary conception of globalisation is based on the vision of a “united” world creating a borderless global village. This conception, which is at once geographical, ideological, and economic, is today backed by international organizations such as the IMF and the WTO. The technological innovations of the 21st Century are strengthening this movement, along with internationalization, the expansion of financial movements, and the market economy, and are putting the capitalist system at the centre of the global economy. It follows that there would be a desire for “global unification” that bets on the successful integration or at the very least interpenetration of cultures, technologies, and global economies. Hence terms such as global culture, global civilization, global governance, global economy, even global citizen, etc.
  • The conflictual and/or pluralist conception is opposed to the unitary one, which it judges too reductive or restrictive, and considers the current form of globalisation to be the source of our problems. It promotes cooperation as opposed to competition, which is the underlying principle of globalisation in its current guise. The staunchest defenders of this conception are the anti- and alter-globalists. This approach to globalisation poses various problems, such as heterogeneity,incompatibility, fragmentation and integration, order and disorder, inequality, exclusion, and solidarity, domination and exploitation, and ideological clashes and human relations being controlled by force.