Globalization can be subdivided into four main stages, in which the capitalist system became aware of its gradual globalization.
The beginning of globalization, although there are disagreements, occurred throughout the 15th century, according to the majority of authors who approach this theme. Since then, this phenomenon of gradual integration of different areas of the planet has gone through several evolutionary processes until reaching its current stage. Thus, it is customary to historically periodize the phenomenon from its different phases, which can differ according to the approach or criterion used in its theoretical elaboration.
In the present text, we will point out the formation of the current world-system based on four phases of globalization, although there are also approaches that subdivide this phenomenon into three distinct periods.
The First Phase of Globalization (15th to 19th century)
We can say that the beginning of globalization occurred with the European maritime expansion, responsible for a gradual transformation of the social structure of the time. Previously, it could not be said that there was a globalization since the predominance was the isolation of societies in relatively autonomous economies and little or nothing integrated with each other.
Thus, during the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, the advance of European navigations then consolidated an implosion in the current world-system, since the means of transport and communication experienced their first major advances towards full integration international markets.
Indeed, the search for new markets and, mainly, for raw materials, such as spices and precious metals, encouraged European navigators to seek new lands and also new routes to different markets. An example was the search by the Indies for new paths after the taking of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks.
In summary, the main characteristic of this period was the formation of European colonies in America and, later, in Africa and Asia, making the “old continent” as the great precursor and articulator of globalization and globalization of the capitalist system throughout the world. planet. In that period, then, the International Labor Division (DIT) was consolidated, in which Europe supplied goods and the other areas supplied raw materials and slave labor.
The Second Phase of Globalization (mid-19th and mid-20th century)
With the expansion of European colonial domination over territories in Asia and, mainly, Africa, in addition to the consolidation of the industrialization process on the European continent, Globalization then entered a new phase. During this period, there was the formation of what was called Industrial Capitalism, in addition to forming the bases for the establishment of Financial Capitalism.
With the advances promoted in the industry area and the resources raised by what was conventionally called the “developed world” from the exploration of its colonies or areas of economic domination, the transport and communication systems have expanded, with the creation and dissemination of railways, telegraphs, telephone systems, in addition to the use of automobiles, airplanes, among others. As a result, the world has become increasingly interconnected, although such interconnection obeys a hierarchy of domination and socioeconomic dependence.
In this phase of globalization, DIT has expanded. While developed countries produced and supplied industrialized products, colonies and underdeveloped countries were limited to the supply of primary products.
The Third Phase of Globalization (Cold War)
This phase of globalization extended from the end of World War II to the end of the Cold War and coincided with the period of the World Order marked by bipolarity. At that time, the world saw the formation of two large blocs of power: on the one hand, one led by the United States, the “capitalist bloc”; on the other, one led by the Soviet Union, called a “socialist bloc”, although there was no de facto socialist system.
If, on the one hand, the Cold War generated a lot of panic in the world about an alleged nuclear war, on the other, this period was marked by great advances in the technological area, mainly due to the arms race and also the space race, which allowed an invaluable sum of scientific knowledge. Such knowledge was supported by the emergence of the Third Industrial Revolution, better known as the Technical-scientific Informational Revolution.
In this sense, advances were made in the area of information and also in transport, with the development of information technology, robotics, the internet, and also biotechnology. The previously existing instruments were perfected and new means of communication and displacement were created, thus promoting greater and broader global integration, although it remained at uneven levels of development around the world.
The Fourth Phase of Globalization (from 1989 to the present day)
With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the USSR, and the end of the Cold War, the world entered a New World Order, and Globalization also passed to a new stage. This was because there was an advance of the capitalist system for the whole world, including the countries of the so-called “second world”, so-called socialists or planned capitalist economics.
What is seen as the main characteristic of this process, in addition to the total consolidation of the globalization system through the integral globalization of capitalism, is the shortening of distances and the acceleration of time. When we talk about “shortening”, we are referring to the way that transport systems can reach great distances in a very short time. The acceleration of time refers to the speed with which new technologies emerge and are rapidly improved or replaced.
The financial system managed to advance even further through what sociologist Manuel Castells called Informational Capitalism or what geographer Milton Santos called Technical-scientific Information. At the political level, the economic and military power of the United States and the formation of “secondary” poles, such as the European Union, China, and Russia, were consolidated.