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This article examines the impact of the globalization process on individual life courses and employment careers in modern societies from an international comparative perspective. Empirical results are summarized from the GLOBALIFE research project (Life Courses in the Globalization Process), which studied the effects of globalization on life courses for the first time. As the results demonstrate, the globalization process has had diverse effects on different phases of the life course. Qualified men in their mid-careers are broadly protected from the effects of globalization, while young adults are the losers of the globalization process. We also find that educational and class characteristics determine the extent to which an individual faces increasing labour market risks. Under globalization, these effects have intensified. The results of the GLOBALIFE project thus indicate that globalization triggers a strengthening of existing social inequality structures. Another central finding is that globalization has not led to the same outcome across various modern societies. Globalization appears to be distinctly filtered by deeply embedded national institutions. These 'institutional packages' entail diverse strategies of labour market flexibilization which themselves differentially shape patterns of social inequality in modern societies.

Original publication




Journal article


European Sociological Review

Publication Date





53 - 71