Recent writings on globalization have tended to argue that such economic interconnectedness is, in one way or another, geographically delimited. Three competing views appear in the literature, regionalization, triadization and the involutionist perspective. This article challenges the portrayal of these perspectives as competing conceptions and instead argues that each perspective furnishes us with a partial view of a larger process. In so doing, this paper revisits the involutionist perspective, arguing that, in relation to the developing countries’ relative share of world trade and investment shares, the use of the term ‘globalization’ should be questioned. Rather, in relation to trade, involution is a more apt description. However, in terms of FDI, stasis better describes the contemporary international economy. The article then examines the trade and investment patterns within the triad, corroborating earlier findings that each leg of the triad is increasingly trading more with their neighbours than with each other, but that inter-triad FDI is indeed increasing. Three main factors are presented in order to explain the contemporary patterns of trade and investment associated with involution, regionalization and triadization: product differentiation, vertical specialization and the continuing concentration on primary product production in much of the developing world
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