Social Sciences (2020-04-01)

Overselling Globalization: The Misleading Conflation of Economic Globalization and Immigration, and the Subsequent Backlash

  • Ernesto Castañeda,
  • Amber Shemesh

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 61
p. 61


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Many think that immigration is something caused by globalization, and some subsequently blame immigrants for the increased inequalities produced by economic globalization. Xenophobic nationalism has gained popularity around the world, further increasing racial tensions but without addressing the underlying causes of growing socioeconomic inequality, which this paper strives to show is caused by economic policies, not immigration. This paper argues that the apparent retreat from globalization arises from the flawed conceptualization of “globalization” as a bundle of different processes. This study analyzes early framings of economic globalization and shows how it has been linked, for political reasons, to increased migration, diversity, and open borders. Coining the term ”globalization” was not just naming ongoing social change, but it became part of the branding of an elite ideological policy project. The popular framing of globalization purposely entangled independent phenomena such as free trade policies, the expansion of the internet, cosmopolitan identities, and international migration. These couplings brought together neoliberal conservatives and liberal cosmopolitans. Given the current backlash, it is essential to distinguish migration from policies favoring trade and capital movement across borders. It is noteworthy to remember that immigration is something that preceded globalization. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate how migration became entangled with globalization in the popular imagination.