Globalization, defined variously or not at all, is the obligatory point of reference for any discussion of contemporary social, political and cultural transformation. Globalization is, in short, the new matrix for our era, the framework for what is and what might be. The first section of this introductory chapter examines the contested and often contradictory meanings that globalization takes on as dominant paradigm for our time. This is followed by a summary of the socio-economic and cultural transformation it has generated in the world around us. How this new world order might be governed is the subject of the third section on Global governance which sets the parameters for many of the more radical contestations of globalization. Finally, I advance an integrated, holistic vision of globalization as a matrix for social and cultural transformation and the horizon of possibilities opening up for political contestation in the current era. Taking my cue from the classic work of Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (Polanyi 2001), I seek to develop a problematic capable of understanding the complexity of free market-driven globalization and the societal contestation of its effects.