IN 1995, THE UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) identified and publicized three main ‘thematic priorities’: globalization; regulation and governance; and social integration and exclusion. Both the selection of these topics and the way in which they have been expressed are very revealing of much current public discussion. The issues themselves are far from new, indeed I myself have been concerned with all three during most of my academic life. However, in current discussions they appear under new and modish guises: now we have the concept of globalization, replacing internationalization; governance, instead of government or the state; and social integration and exclusion, instead of class, race and gender. The newer terms are, I think, rather more fuzzy and elusive about the nature of the social processes to which they refer. The inflection results, I think, partly from changes in the character of those processes but, more significantly, from new ways of perceiving and shaping those processes. Not surprisingly, there is considerable debate and contestation about all three.