Based on the analysis of globalization processes and the new role of cities therein, this research integrates a socio-political perspective with the study of current urban matters, especially those relating to global integration through city competitiveness. It advances the discussion of globalization as a multiple and complex phenomenon, which is not merely ascribed to economic aspects, and discusses the role of nation states and social movements in the construction of national projects, implying the reaffirmation of state sovereignty. The case studies taken from two different continents and cultures (Caracas, Venezuela and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) demonstrate that globalization is not a linear process, developing without conflict or resistance. As the benefits of global integration are not shared by the entire population, cities become institutionally and socially fragmented into enclaves of globally linked elites, with the vast majority excluded. This provides fertile ground for tensions and conflict stemming from exclusion – such as the case of Caracas – or from ethnic identity – as in Kuala Lumpur.