Key Concepts
Culture and Human Rights

Convention Against Torture (CAT): Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1984.  This convention provides a definition of torture, provides universal jurisdiction, and sets up a mechanism to implement it, including an optional protocol that allows for regular visits by UN bodies to further prevent torture from taking place.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW): Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. This convention is viewed as a bill of rights for women. It defines what constitutes discrimination against women and provides an agenda for national action plans to end the discrimination.

Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC): Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989. This convention protects children from discrimination, neglect, and abuse and covers a full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.  

Cultural Dynamism: culture is constantly changing, induced by internal adjustments as well as by external influences. Both types of changes adapt to existing norms and institutions. Members of a culture have a range of options to accommodate various individual responses to its norms. The degree of flexibility is controlled by the culture’s own internal criteria for legitimacy. Internal culture discourse provides alternative interpretations, in addition to the dominant one.

Cultural Relativism: the principle that a person’s beliefs and actions should be understood within their context of that person’s culture.

Ethnocentrism: “characterized by or based on the attitude that one’s own group is superior”

Female Genital Mutilation: According to the WHO, it is includes all procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons. IT is also known as female genital cutting.

Habeas corpus: right to be brought to a court to determine whether the government has the right to detain and try an individual

Human trafficking: illegal recruitment and trade of people to be exploited against their will

Imprescriptability: Not derived from, or dependent on, external authority; self-evidencing; obvious (

Inalienable: not transferable to another or capable of being repudiated. Inalienable rights are those that are inherent to each person and that cannot be taken away from each individual.

International Bill of Rights: the term used to refer to both the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights when considered together.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): is a legally binding treaty that embodies many of the rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The treaty offers the right of self-determination; right to freely dispose of wealth and resources; right to life; right to pardon in case of death sentence; right not to be subject to torture; right not to be held in slavery; right to liberty and security of person; right to be informed of charges if arrested; right to compensation if unlawfully arrested; right to leave and enter their own country without restrictions; right to be treated equally at court; right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; right to freedom of association; right to marry; right to a nationality; and other basic rights. The covenant ensures that these rights should be carried out without discrimination.

International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR): is a legally binding treaty that embodies many of the rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The treaty offers the right of self-determination; right to work; right to favorable and just conditions at work; right to form trade unions; right to strike; right to protection for mothers after childbirth; right to adequate standard of living; right to physical and mental health; right to education; and other basic cultural and economic rights. The covenant ensures that these rights should be carried out without discrimination.

Proxy detention: the transfer of a detainee from one State to another outside the realm of any international or national legal procedure (“rendition” or “extraordinary rendition”)

Rapporteur: “An expert entrusted by the UN with a special human rights mandate, acting in his or her personal capacity.”

Ratify: “Ratification defines the international act whereby a state indicates its consent to be bound to a treaty if the parties intended to show their consent by such an act. The institution of ratification grants states the necessary time-frame to seek the required approval for the treaty on the domestic level and to enact the necessary legislation to give domestic effect to that treaty.”

Rendition: the secret removal of a suspect to another country without due process of law. Often, the suspect is delivered to a country where torture is secretly allowed.

Self-determination: the right of people to form the government of their choosing, without reference to the desires of any other nation.

UN Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples: Adopted in 2007. This Declaration states individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, including their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues. Sections dealing with land rights are contentious for some states, including the U.S.

United States Bill of Rights: The first ten amendments to the U.S. constitution. Rights include: freedom of speech, of the press, and assembly and the right to petition; right to keep and bear arms; protection from quartering of troops; protection from unreasonable search and seizure; due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain; trial by jury and rights of the accused; civil trial by jury, prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment; and others.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: the declaration is primarily a statement of principle, a foundation upon which the legal framework for practical protections of the agreed upon rights could be constructed. It is not a legally binding document, but rather serves as a statement of aspirations for all states to achieve a more equitable and just world.

Universal jurisdiction: national courts can “cases of the gravest crimes against humanity, even if these crimes are not committed in the national territory and even if they are committed by government leaders of other states.”

Key Concepts in Demographics

Crude Birth Rate:  the total number of live births in a year for every 1000 people alive in the society

Crude Death Rate: the total number of deaths in a year for every 1000 people alive in the society

Demographic Transition Model: Explanation for the transformation of countries from having high birth rates and high death rates to low birth rates and low death rates

Dependency ratio:  proportion of the population that are dependents (under 15 or over 65).  It is calculated by  dividing the number of dependents by the total population (15-64).

Infant mortality rates: the number of deaths of children under the age of one per thousand live births.

Life Expectancy: The average number of years that an individual can be expected to live

Maternal mortality rates: is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.

Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using “per unit time” for measurement. Population growth is determined by four factors, births, deaths, immigrants, and emigrants.

Population Density: population divided by total land area.

Population pyramid:  Inverted bar graphs that show a wide population  base (younger population) with a narrow top (older population). Population pyramids show:  age distributions, dependency ratios of those under 15 and over 65, and sex ratios (males vs. females

Natural Increase Rate: The percentage of growth in a population. It is measured by subtracting the crude death rate from the crude birth rate. Usually developing countries have positive or high natural increase rate, while developed countries have a lower rate. Populations in developed countries may increase though due to migration.

Total Fertility Rates: the average number of children a woman will have in her childbearing years.

Gender and Globalization

1. Toward a Definition of Globalization

A good working definition of globalization might be:

A process of interaction and integration among the people, companies, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology. This process has effects on the environment, on culture, on political systems, on economic development and prosperity, and on human
physical well-being in societies around the world.

Alongside this definition, we may highlight the larger policies that tend to encourage
this process of interaction and integration.

Most important for understanding the issues surrounding gender and
globalization is economic liberalization.  This may be defined as:

The economic policy, implemented by governments largely through international agreements, which attempts to reduce or remove limitations on international trade and flow of capital.   

Among other things, these limitations may include tariffs, trade quotas, currency
exchange and export policies, and restrictions on labor migration.  Other limitations on capital that often are perceived as conflicting with economic liberalizaton include laws intended to protect the environment and laws intended to protect labor rights.

2. Sex and Gender

Sex refers to biology, the physical characteristics that separate males from females.

Gender is a cultural phenomeon: the ways in which men and women are understood as masculine and feminine.  Another way to think of it is: how being male or female is meaningful in a given social/cultural setting.

3. Gender System and Gender Ideology

Gender system refers to the distinct, culturally-defined roles and statuses of men and women; the different ways that men and women behave, or are expected to behave, in a given social/cultural setting that marks them as masculine  and feminine.

Gender ideology refers to the culturally-based beliefs about the differences between men and women, what it means to be masculine or feminine in a given cultural setting,
that are commonly used to explain the gender system.

The gender system is the “what” of gendered roles and statuses, the gender ideology
is the “why”.

4. Patriarchy

Patriarchy is the institutionalized subordination of women to men (gender system) and the taken-for-granted belief that men are “naturally” or innately superior or more valuable, that society is more stable or prosperous when led by men, etc. (gender ideology).

5.  Strategies for Dealing with Globalization

Accommodation:  People adapt to change produced by globalization through altering some or all of their beliefs and behavior to resemble what is apparently “called for” by the new globalized society.

Resistance:  People adapt to change produced by globalization through finding ways to
maintain their traditional beliefs and behavior in spite of changes produced by globalization.

Hybridity:  People adapt to change produced by globalization through combining traditional beliefs and behaviors with aspects of the new, globalized culture to produce new beliefs and behaviors that are traditional enough to be acceptable.

Global Banking and Finance

Annuities: “These are contracts between individual investors and insurance companies, where investors agree to pay an allocated amount of premium and at the end of a pre-determined fixed term, the insurer will guarantee a series of payments to the insured party.”1

Bonds: certificate issued by a government or company representing a promise by the bond issuer to pay the bondholder interest in addition to the principal amount of the bond after a specified period of time. For example, a 10-year bond purchased today costs $35. When you “redeem” or cash in the bond after ten years, the issuer repays the $35 principal plus interest at a rate established when the bond was issued.

Capital flow: “The movement of money for the purpose of investment, trade or business production. Capital flows occur within corporations in the form of investment capital and capital spending on operations and research & development. On a larger scale, governments direct capital flows from tax receipts into programs and operations, and through trade with other nations and currencies. Individual investors direct savings and investment capital into securities like stocks, bonds and mutual funds.” Read more:

Capital markets: A financial market that works as a conduit for demand and supply of debt and equity capital. It channels the money provided by savers and depository institutions (banks, credit unions, insurance companies, etc.) to borrowers and investees through a variety of financial instruments (bonds, notes, shares) called securities.

A capital market is not a compact unit, but a highly decentralized system made up of three major parts: (1) stock market, (2) bond market, and (3) money market. It also works as an exchange for trading existing claims on capital in the form of shares.” Read more:

Certificate of Deposit: “Certificates of deposit (or CDs) are issued by banks and credit unions. They usually have a fixed term and fixed interest rate.”2 A person may go to bank and buy a CD instead of putting his or her funds in a savings account because the rate of return is often higher. On the other side, the CD often has a set term so the person cannot cash in the CD before the term expires without risking a penalty. This makes it less “liquid” (easy to buy/sell/trade) than a traditional bank account.

Commodity Market: “A physical or virtual marketplace for buying, selling and trading raw or primary products…Commodities are split into two types: hard and soft commodities. Hard commodities are typically natural resources that must be mined or extracted (gold, rubber, oil, etc.), whereas soft commodities are agricultural products or livestock (corn, wheat, coffee, sugar, soybeans, pork, etc.).” Read more:

Equity: “The term’s meaning depends very much on the context. In finance, in general, you can think of equity as ownership in any asset after all debts associated with that asset are paid off. For example, a car or house with no outstanding debt is considered the owner’s equity because he or she can readily sell the item for cash. Stocks are equity because they represent ownership in a company.” Read more:

Financial assets: “An asset that derives value because of a contractual claim. Stocks, bonds, bank deposits, and the like are all examples of financial assets.” Read more:

Financial Globalization: “The integration of global markets by the reduction trade barriers, improved communication, foreign direct investment, and other means” Read more:

Financial markets: “Broad term describing any marketplace where buyers and sellers participate in the trade of assets such as equities, bonds, currencies and derivatives. Financial markets are typically defined by having transparent pricing, basic regulations on trading, costs and fees and market forces determining the prices of securities that trade.” Read more:

Floating Exchange Rate: “A country’s exchange rate regime where its currency is set by the foreign-exchange market through supply and demand for that particular currency relative to other currencies. Thus, floating exchange rates change freely and are determined by trading in the forex market. This is in contrast to a “fixed exchange rate” regime.” Read more:

Foreign Exchange Market: “The market in which participants are able to buy, sell, exchange and speculate on currencies. Foreign exchange markets are made up of banks, commercial companies, central banks, investment management firms, hedge funds, and retail forex brokers and investors. The forex market is considered to be the largest financial market in the world.” Read more:

Hedging: “A risk management strategy used in limiting or offsetting probability of loss from fluctuations in the prices of commodities, currencies, or securities” “In effect, hedging is a transfer of risk without buying insurance policies.” Read more:

Insurance Markets: buying and selling of insurance

Inflation: “A sustained, rapid increase in prices, as measured by some broad index (such as Consumer Price Index) over months or years, and mirrored in the correspondingly decreasing purchasing power of the currency. It has its worst effect on the fixed-wage earners, and is a disincentive to save.” Read more:

International Monetary Fund: The IMF is an international organization of 185 member countries, established in 1947 to promote international monetary cooperation, exchange stability, and orderly exchange arrangements; to foster economic growth and high levels of employment; and to provide temporary financial assistance to countries to help ease balance of payments adjustment.

Letter of Credit: “A written commitment to pay, by a buyer’s or importer’s bank (called the issuing bank) to the seller’s or exporter’s bank (called the accepting bank, negotiating bank, or paying bank).

A letter of credit guarantees payment of a specified sum in a specified currency, provided the seller meets precisely-defined conditions and submits the prescribed documents within a fixed timeframe… Letters of credit are formal trade instruments and are used usually where the seller is unwilling to extend credit to the buyer. In effect, a letter of credit substitutes the creditworthiness of a bank for the creditworthiness of the buyer. Thus, the international banking system acts as an intermediary between far flung exporters and importers.” Read more:

Liquidity: “The degree to which an asset or security can be bought or sold in the market without affecting the asset’s price. Liquidity is characterized by a high level of trading activity. Assets that can be easily bought or sold are known as liquid assets.” Read more:

Mutual Funds:  Professionally managed financial instruments that may include a mix of stocks, bonds and other products. Investors may choose to buy a mutual fund instead of a stock or a bond because it may give a higher rate of return with less risk because there are multiple products contributed the worth of the fund.

Trade Liberalization: elimination of government barriers to trade of goods and services

Pegged Currency: “A method of stabilizing a country’s currency by fixing its exchange rate to that of another country” Read more:

Security: “An instrument representing ownership (stocks), a debt agreement (bonds) or the rights to ownership (derivatives).” From

Speculation: “The act of trading in an asset, or conducting a financial transaction, that has a significant risk of losing most or all of the initial outlay, in expectation of a substantial gain. With speculation, the risk of loss is more than offset by the possibility of a huge gain; otherwise, there would be very little motivation to speculate. While it is often confused with gambling, the key difference is that speculation is generally tantamount to taking a calculated risk and is not dependent on pure chance, whereas gambling depends on totally random outcomes or chance.” Read more:

Stocks: A certificate issued by a corporation that represents partial ownership of the corporation (equity). Different kinds of stock confer different rights and responsibilities on the stockholder, including the right to receive dividends and the ability to participate in corporate decision-making. An investor (person/company/government/etc.) buys stock shares. The investor buys the stock for a certain quoted price and hopes that the company improves and the stock price becomes higher.  Investors like to buy low and sell high, so buy when the company is not doing that great, but sell when it is doing really great and make a profit. 

1  “Financial Products” (n.d.). Retrieved from:
2  Ibd.

Global Health

Health- the World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Health disparities- health conditions that are more serious or common in socioeconomically disadvantaged (i.e., low education level, live in poverty) and medically underserved, rural, and urban communities.

Cultural competency – the ability to interact effectively and appropriately with people of different cultures.

Global Services

Core competencies: “capabilities that are critical to a business achieving competitive advantage.” From

Economies of Scale: producing large quantities of goods for a low prices per unit. So instead of printing 25 newspapers for $50 (1 newspaper/$2), one prints 1000 newspapers for $100 (1 newspaper/ ten cents).

Human capital: Investments that increase the value of an employee. Examples include education, training, medical care, etc.

Innovation: “the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.” Oslo Manual (OECD, 2005: 46)
Knowledge-intensive service activities: activities that rely heavily on professional knowledge, usually a high percentage of professionals carry them out (employees with a  graduate degree). They link the production of knowledge to innovative activities and are used to analyze a firm’s innovation.

OECD: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: “a group of 30 member countries, with a shared commitment to democratic government and the market economy, that has active relationships with some 70 other countries via nongovernmental organizations. Formed in 1961, its work covers economic and social issues from macroeconomics to trade, education, development, and scientific innovation. Its goals are to promote economic growth and employment in member countries in a climate of stability; to assist the sustainable economic expansion of both member and nonmember countries; and to support a balanced and even-handed expansion of world trade.”;rbDictionary

Off-shoring: Move (some of a company’s processes or services) overseas to take advantage of lower costs.

Outsourcing: to procure (goods or services needed by a business or organization) under contract with an outside supplier.

Service Economy: services are a diverse group of economic activities not directly associated with the manufacture of goods, mining or agriculture

Strategic Business Unit: “Company division, product line within a division, or single product or company brand that has an objective and mission different from other company business and that can be marketed independently from the rest of the company.”

Structural barriers: “Barriers to entry are factors which prevent or deter the entry of new firms into an industry even when incumbent firms are earning excess profits. Structural barriers to entry arise from basic industry characteristics such as technology, costs and demand. A narrower definition of structural barriers suggests that barriers to entry arise only when an entrant must incur costs which incumbents do not bear. This definition excludes scale economies as a barrier.”

Nationalism and State Sovereignty

Autonomy – “[T]o be one’s own person, to be directed by considerations, desires, conditions, and characteristics that are not simply imposed externally upon one, but are part of what can somehow be considered one’s authentic self.” Autonomy is more specific than the concept of freedom or liberty because it refers not only to the removal of obstacles to action but also to the achievement of a goal. While autonomy is uncontroversial as defined here, it is a more problematic concept when associated with an attempt to determine the conditions needed to achieve autonomy or the scope of autonomous behavior (personal, moral, political, etc.). From:

Civilization – “Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor.“ In other words, civilization is a way to measure the degree to which a group of people (be it an ethnic group, nation, or state) compares to the most materially advanced ethnic groups, nations, and states.  Historically, such comparisons were made pejoratively to describe particular ethnic groups, nations, and states as uncivilized. From:

Ethnic – “Of or relating to a group of people having common racial, national, religious or cultural origins.” (See Ethnicity for further elaboration of this concept.) From:

Ethnicity – “The identification of a culture with tangible, visual symbols and signs such as dress, food, or religious observance.” Ethnicity is a contested concept that prior to the 19th century was seen as related to biological differences between groups of people. Modern social science (following Max Weber) defines ethnicity more as the external symbols associated with a particular group of people. In other words, a group of people comes before (and often define on their own) the symbols that identify them as an ethnic group. Ethnic identity is frequently associated with national identity so that people who share ethnicity are also thought to share nationality. See also:

Nation – “A collective, normally territorial, entity which commands allegiance. Some theorists argue that nations are the product of modernity, others claim they are ‘primordial’ or perennial.”  The concept of a nation is used to prioritize an individual’s allegiance among the various entities that might compete for it. As such, the concept of a nation is often associated with the concept of a state since the latter provides a way for the former to ensure allegiance. However, since a nation is typically associated with ethnic attributes, allegiance to a nation is more than the civic duty to obey a state (i.e. patriotism). Therefore, membership in a nation is non-voluntary and imposed upon individuals at birth. See also:

Nation-state – “[A] state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity. The term “nation-state” implies that the two geographically coincide. Nation-state formation took place at different times in different parts of the earth but has become the dominant form of state organization.” While nations and states typically go together, some states are not composed of one nation (i.e. the former Soviet Union) and some nations do not reside in one state (i.e. the Kurds). From:

Nationalism – “An ideology that takes the nation to be of fundamental value.” (See Nation for further elaboration of this concept.)

Self-rule – “When a country, a part of a country or a nation chooses its own government and controls its own activities.” This definition takes the idea of autonomy (see above) and applies it to a collection of individuals in a country, nation, or state. Unlike the concept of State Sovereignty, the concept of Self-rule does not address the relation of the country/nation/state to the use of force to maintain such rule. From:

State - “An institution that claims a monopoly of legitimate force for a particular territory. This claim makes [the concept of the state] contradictory and paradoxical [since the concept does not identify the criteria that should be used to define what counts as legitimate force].” This definition is derived from the most commonly accepted definition developed by the German philosopher/sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920).  However, the concept of the state is highly contested among academics in part because it combines two concepts (force and morality) that are typically in opposition to each other. Others, such as political scientist David Easton, criticize the concept of the state as an almost mystical idea that eludes a precise definition because it is not sufficiently based on what is known about human behavior in societies. See also:

Sovereignty – “The ability to govern one’s own life: sovereignty is an absolute concept that can only express itself in particular historical circumstances.”  “Particular historical circumstances” refers to the idea that it is best to define this concept in terms of specific, individual acts of sovereignty rather than as an abstract idea of sovereignty.  This is a broad definition that attempts to sidestep the ambiguities that occur when the concept of the state is associated with sovereignty. Typically, when the term sovereignty is used, the concept of state sovereignty (see below) is meant.

State Sovereignty – “The claim by supporters of the state that the state has ultimate and final legitimate force over a particular society.” Adding the concept of sovereignty to the concept of the state gives the latter the moral and political authority to use power to control a geographical area. While the idea of the state conjures an impersonal image of government and land, the term sovereignty was developed specifically to help define the connection between the rulers and the ruled. As such, the sovereign state is the most widely recognized and dominant form of collective political agency in the modern world.   See also:

Unless referenced otherwise, the definitions listed in the quotes are from:
Hoffman, J. & Graham, P. (2006) Introduction to Political Concepts. Harlow, England: Pearson.


Carrying Capacity: the maximum population of a species that a particular habitat can sustain with being degraded

Climate: The long term average weather for an area: Months, years, centuries.

Ecological footprint: the amount of biologically productive land/sea area needed to support the lifestyle of humans

Exponential Growth: The rate of growth for a population if it has a constant birth rate over time and is never limited by other factors

Ecosystem: the physical factors (i.e. water, soil, air) and biological entities (plants, animals) that interact within a habitat

Geothermal energy: the utilization of high temperatures within the earth to heat water to either heat buildings or generate electricity

Linear Growth: “when something grows the same exact amount in each time frame” (Retrieved from:

Natural Capital: The natural resources and services that keep life on Earth alive and support our economy.

Natural resources: materials and energy found in nature that we use: examples include solar energy, coal, oil, soil, water, air, trees, fish, copper, aluminum, etc.

Nitrogen Fixation: As N2, Nitrogen is inert, and most organisms can’t use it to build proteins.  The N2 has to be converted into usable molecules by separating the two Nitrogen atoms and adding Hydrogen to them in varying amounts to create ammonia and other Nitrogen compounds. 
Biodiversity: variety of the species on the Earth

Nonrenewable resources: resources that are not replaced as fast as they are used. Examples: coal, oil, fish, copper, aluminum, etc.

Population Growth Rate: is the increase in a country’s population during a period of time, usually one year, expressed as a percentage of the population at the start of that period. (Retrieved from:

Population momentum: Reaching replacement level fertility rate does not immediately stop population growth, because the current children will grow up and also give birth to 2.1 children, putting off the stop in population growth by a generation.   This delay in leveling of the population is called population momentum.

Renewable resources: resources that are replaced at a rate equal to or greater than the rate at which they are used. Examples: solar, soil, water, air, trees

Sustainability: “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” -from the United Nations General Assembly (1987) Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future.

Total fertility rate: Average number of children born to women during their reproductive years.
Replacement level fertility rate:  The number of children a couple must give birth to replace themselves

Weather:  the state of atmospheric conditions over a short period of time:  Hours or days.


Internalist perspective of technology: reconstruct the history of machines and processes focusing on the role of the inventor, laboratory practices, and the state of scientific knowledge at a particular time. They chart the sequence that leads from one physical object to the next…They try to understand technology from the point of view from those who encounter them in a particular time and place.  (Nye)

Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention: No two countries that are both part of a major global supply chain, like Dell’s, will ever fight a war against each other as long as they are both part of the same global supply chain (Friedman)

Contextualist perspective of technology: focuses on how the larger society shapes and chooses machines. It is impossible to separate the technical and cultural factors when accounting for which technology wins the largest market share.  (Nye)

Just-in-time:” “It originally referred to the production of goods to meet customer demand exactly, in time, quality and quantity, whether the `customer’ is the final purchaser of the product or another process further along the production line. It has now come to mean producing with minimum waste. “Waste” is taken in its most general sense and includes time and resources as well as materials.”1

Technology Leapfrogging: the bypassing of technological stages that others (other countries) have gone through.2

Social constructivism: Technology is influenced by society. Social factors contribute to the success or failure of technology

Socio-cognitive model of technological development: Interactions between beliefs, artifacts, and evaluation routines lead to the creation of alternative technological paths.

Supply chain: Each step in the production process is now like one link in a flexible chain, which is hooked to the next piece, then to the next and so on.

Technological Determinism: technology shapes how we as individuals in a society think, feel, act, and how society operates as we move from one technological age to another (Marshall Mcluhan)

Technological Momentum: when a technology is new, social factors play an important role it its development and adoption. However, once a technology becomes widely accepted and used, social factors are less important. This theory is viewed by some as a form of social constructivism, others view this theory as an intermediate between social constructivism and technological determinism. (Thomas P. Hughes)

Technological system: consists of the various physical parts of the technology and the network of political, social, and economic relationships and forces that control and shape the technology (Thomas P. Hughes)

Techno-globalist: View the world as a global village. Nations are about to disappear through the advance of globalizing new technologies (Edgerton)

Techno-nationalist: the key unit of analysis of technology is the nation state. Nations are the unit that invents. They have research and development budgets, culture of innovation that diffuse and use technology. (Edgerton)

Technological system: “A piece of technology does not exist in a social vacuum, but is connected with makers, users, and other technologies in often complex ways” (McClellan and Dorn)

Technology Innovation: the development of new knowledge, products, or processes, and government-oriented technology transfer

Technology Diffusion: dissemination of technical information and know-how and the subsequent adoption of new technologies and techniques by users.

World Wide Computer: there is a shift taking place from computing taking place on personal computers to the Internet. The World Wide Web is turning into a worldwide computer. For example, people use online software, do their taxes online, store files online, etc.  (Carr)

1  JIT Just-in-Time manufacturing. (n.d.) Retrieved from:
2  Technology Leapfrogging. (n.d.) Retrieved from:


Absolute Advantage: the ability of a country to produce a good using fewer inputs than another country.


Ad Valorem Tariff: levied as a fraction of the value of imported goods

Balance of Capital Account: the amount of foreign purchases in the U.S. minus the U.S. purchases made in other countries.

Balance of Current Accounts: the flow of goods, services, income and transfer payments into and out of a country

Balance of Payments: “A record of all transactions made between one particular country and all other countries during a specified period of time. BOP compares the dollar [or other currency] difference of the amount of exports and imports, including all financial exports and imports. A negative balance of payments means that more money is flowing out of the country than coming in, and vice versa.” (

Balance of Services: “The difference between funds received by a country when exporting services and the funds paid for importing services. The balance of services is one part of the current accounts portion of the balance of payments, the other is major part is the balance of trade.”   (

Balance of Trade: “The difference between a country’s imports and its exports. Balance of trade is the largest component of a country’s balance of payments. Debit items include imports, foreign aid, domestic spending abroad and domestic investments abroad. Credit items include exports, foreign spending in the domestic economy and foreign investments in the domestic economy. A country has a trade deficit if it imports more than it exports; the opposite scenario is a trade surplus.”  (

Capital Account: “A national account that shows the net change in asset ownership for a nation. The capital account is the net result of public and private international investments flowing in and out of a country.”

Comparative Advantage: the ability of a country to produce a good at a lower opportunity cost than another country.

Current Account: “The difference between a nation’s total exports of goods, services and transfers, and its total imports of them. Current account balance calculations exclude transactions in financial.” (

Economies of Scale: “The increase in efficiency of production as the number of goods being produced increases. Typically, a company that achieves economies of scale lowers the average cost per unit through increased production since fixed costs are shared over an increased number of goods.

There are two types of economies of scale:

-External economies – the cost per unit depends on the size of the industry, not the firm.
-Internal economies – the cost per unit depends on size of the individual firm.”

Export Subsidies: “Government help to exporters, generally in two forms (1) Service subsidy: trade information, trade shows, feasibility studies, foreign representation, etc. (2) Cash subsidy: (a) rebate on imported raw materials and duty-free import of manufacturing equipment (called indirect cash subsidy); or (b) drawback as a percentage of the value of exports (called direct cash subsidy). Although World trade Organization (WTO, formerly GATT) recognizes that subsidies hinder fair competition and distort trade practices, it has not been able to define precisely what kind of assistance constitutes a subsidy.” (

Export Supply Curve: the difference between the quantity that foreign producers supply minus the quantity that foreign consumers demand, at each price

Free Trade: trade between countries that is not hindered government practices that discriminate against imports or exports

Gross Domestic Product (GDP):  “The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period, though GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis.”  (

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT): “A treaty created following the conclusion of World War II. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was implemented to further regulate world trade to aide in the economic recovery following the war. GATT’s main objective was to reduce the barriers of international trade through the reduction of tariffs, quotas and subsidies” (

Heckscher-Ohlin Model/Theory: differences in labor, labor skills, physical capital, land or other factors of production across countries create productive differences that explain why trade occurs.

Import Demand Curve: the difference between the quantity that domestic consumers demand minus the quantity that domestic producers supply, at each price.

Import Quotas: a restriction on the quantity of a good that may be imported

Index of Openness: measures the degree of a country’s orientation to the external world. 

Isovalue: a relationship between the production of two products in which the total market value is constant.

Labor Intensive: “A process or industry that requires a large amount of labor to produce its goods or services. The degree of labor intensity is typically measured in proportion to the amount of capital required to produce the goods/services; the higher the proportion of labor costs required, the more labor intensive the business.” (

Labor Productivity: “A measurement of economic growth of a country. Labor productivity measures the amount of goods and services produced by one hour of labor. More specifically, labor productivity measures the amount of real GDP produced by an hour of labor.”

Net Exports: The value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports

Nominal value: “The stated value of an issued security. Nominal value in economics also refers to a value expressed in monetary terms for a specific year or years, without adjusting for inflation. When used in reference to securities, nominal value is also known face value or par value.”

Opportunity Cost: the amount of good or service that is sacrificed or given up in order to produce another good or service.

Production Possibility Frontier (PPF): “A curve depicting all maximum output possibilities for two or more goods given a set of inputs (resources, labor, etc.). The PPF assumes that all inputs are used efficiently.”

 Specific Tariff: levied as a fixed charge for each unit of imported goods

Tariff: a tax levied when a good is imported.

Terms of Trade: the price of exports relative to the price of imports.

Trade Liberalization: “The removal or reduction of restrictions or barriers on the free exchange of goods between nations.” (

Trade Specialization: “A method of production where a business or area focuses on the production of a limited scope of products or services in order to gain greater degrees of productive efficiency within the entire system of businesses or areas.” (

Voluntary Export Quota: the quota is imposed by the exporting country rather than the importing country.

World Trade Organization: “The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.” (