David Held and Andrew McGrew, in a widely accepted definition, refer to globalization as “the historical process which transforms the spatial organisations of spatial relations and transactions, generating transcontinental or interregional networks of communication.” One might distinguish between the economic dimension, made up by transnational and international corporations, and the cultural ideological sphere, embracing a market ideology and a consumerism ethic. This chapter is restricted to the economic dimension of global transformation of the countries of Eastern Europe and the former USSR, and comparisons are made with the advanced Western countries, Latin America and China. After outlining the role the state socialist countries played in the world system, I consider the place of the economies of the postsocialist countries in the world economy. The focus of this chapter is on the extent of economic globalization of countries and their economic corporations. Since 1989, important differences have developed between the postsocialist states with respect to economic penetration and exposure to the world market. Greater participation in the global economy is a characteristic of the Central European states and Estonia; whereas Russia has a hybrid social formation containing elements of state economic control, national capitalism and global capitalism. The outcomes have not fulfilled the expectations of those advocating entry into the world economy. There has been a decline in their relative economic and welfare positions, though some countries have fared worse than others.
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