Etymology and usage
The term globalization derives from the word globalize, which refers to the emergence of an international network of economic systems.
 One of the earliest known usages of the term as a noun was in a 1930 publication entitled Towards New Education, where it denoted a holistic view of human experience in education.
Charles Taze Russell (of the
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society) coined a related term, corporate giants, in 1897
 to refer to the largely national trusts and other large enterprises of the time. The term 'globalization' had been used in its economic sense at least as early as 1981, and in other senses since at least as early as 1944.
 Theodore Levitt is credited with popularizing the term and bringing it into the mainstream business audience in the later half of the 1980s. Since its inception, the concept of globalization has inspired competing definitions and interpretations. Its antecedents date back to the great movements of trade and
Asia and the
Indian Ocean from the 15th century onward.
 Due to the complexity of the concept, various research projects, articles, and discussions often stay focused on a single aspect of globalization.
Martin Albrow and Elizabeth King define globalization as "all those processes by which the people of the world are incorporated into a single world society."
 In The Consequences of Modernity,
Anthony Giddens writes: "Globalization can thus be defined as the intensification of worldwide
social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa."
 In 1992,
Roland Robertson, professor of sociology at the
University of Aberdeen and an early writer in the field, described globalization as "the compression of the world and the intensification of the consciousness of the world as a whole."
In Global Transformations,
David Held and his co-writers state:
Although in its simplistic sense globalization refers to the widening, deepening and speeding up of global interconnection, such a definition begs further elaboration. ... Globalization can be on a continuum with the local, national and regional. At one end of the continuum lie social and economic relations and networks which are organized on a local and/or national basis; at the other end lie social and economic relations and networks which crystallize on the wider scale of regional and global interactions. Globalization can refer to those spatial-temporal processes of change which underpin a transformation in the organization of human affairs by linking together and expanding human activity across regions and continents. Without reference to such expansive spatial connections, there can be no clear or coherent formulation of this term. ... A satisfactory definition of globalization must capture each of these elements: extensity (stretching), intensity, velocity and impact.
Held and his co-writers' definition of globalization in that same book as "transformation in the spatial organization of social relations and transactions—assessed in terms of their extensity, intensity, velocity and impact—generating transcontinental or inter-regional flows" was called "probably the most widely-cited definition" in the 2014
DHL Global Connectiveness Index.
Swedish journalist Thomas Larsson, in his book The Race to the Top: The Real Story of Globalization, states that globalization:
is the process of world shrinkage, of distances getting shorter, things moving closer. It pertains to the increasing ease with which somebody on one side of the world can interact, to mutual benefit, with somebody on the other side of the world.
Paul James defines globalization with a more direct and historically contextualized emphasis:
Globalization is the extension of social relations across world-space, defining that world-space in terms of the historically variable ways that it has been practiced and socially understood through changing world-time.
Manfred Steger, professor of
global studies and research leader in the
Global Cities Institute at
RMIT University, identifies four main empirical
dimensions of globalization: economic, political, cultural, and
ecological. A fifth dimension—the ideological—cutting across the other four. The ideological dimension, according to Steger, is filled with a range of
norms, claims, beliefs, and narratives about the phenomenon itself.
James and Steger stated that the concept of globalization "emerged from the intersection of four interrelated sets of '
Wenger, 1998): academics, journalists, publishers/editors, and librarians."
:424 They note the term was used "in education to describe the global life of the mind"; in
international relations to describe the extension of the
; and in journalism to describe how the "American Negro and his problem are taking on a global significance".
 They have also argued that four different forms of globalization can be distinguished that complement and cut across the solely empirical dimensions.
 According to James, the oldest dominant form of globalization is embodied globalization, the movement of people. A second form is agency-extended globalization, the circulation of agents of different institutions, organizations, and
imperial agents. Object-extended globalization, a third form, is the movement of
commodities and other objects of exchange. He calls the transmission of ideas, images, knowledge, and information across world-space disembodied globalization, maintaining that it is currently the dominant form of globalization. James holds that this series of distinctions allows for an understanding of how, today, the most embodied forms of globalization such as the movement of
migrants are increasingly restricted, while the most disembodied forms such as the circulation of financial instruments and codes are the most
Thomas L. Friedman popularized the term
"flat world", arguing that
supply-chaining, and political forces had permanently changed the world, for better and worse. He asserted that the pace of globalization was quickening and that its impact on business organization and practice would continue to grow.
Takis Fotopoulos defined "economic globalization" as the opening and deregulation of
labor markets that led toward present
neoliberal globalization. He used "political globalization" to refer to the emergence of a transnational
élite and a phasing out of the
nation-state. Meanwhile, he used "cultural globalization" to reference the worldwide homogenization of culture. Other of his usages included "
ideological globalization", "
technological globalization", and "social globalization".
Lechner and Boli (2012) define globalization as more people across large distances becoming connected in more and different ways.
Globophobia is used to refer to the fear of globalization, though it can also mean the fear of balloons.