Globalization is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. It is the process of international integration as a product of exchange of world views, products, ideas and other aspects of culture in which worldwide exchange of national and cultural resources occurs in the process. Many factors contributed for the growth of globalization major being advancement in transportation and communication. The current wave of globalization is nothing but the result of Schumpeterian evolution in technology along with interaction of many actors at different levels of the economy. Globalization means different for different people. For some it creates positive political, economic and technological progress. For few globalization is hegemonic and antagonist to local and national economies. Globalization has changed situations in such a manner that power of state is determined by power of firm. If the goal of globalization was more liberal exchange of goods, services, labor, thoughts etc which in later stages would make world uniform, then there is no space for identity. Globalization is not a debate about divergence or convergence, but it is a dialectical process which can both integrate and fragment along with creating both winners and losers. Today what we see is the downside of globalization.
The term globalization is used to describe the economic, political, social and cultural changes of the world in the last odd fifty years, which was accelerated by the scientific revolution to the diminishing of national and geopolitical boundaries in an expanding transnational movement of goods, services and capital. No single definition exists, when we talk about the ‘definition’ of globalization, as it is with all other core concepts in the social sciences; its precise meaning remains contested. Let’s take few definitions into consideration here.
According to the sociologist, Roland Robertson,” globalization as a concept refers both to the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole, both concrete global interdependence and consciousness of the globe whole”. Economists refer to globalization in a narrow sense, where it involves integration of national economy with the world economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration and the spread of technology. According to Mary C Waters, Globalization is understood in social process in which geographical obstacles to social and cultural arrangements lose importance. For Peter Dicken, Globalization is inherently geographical as a process requires us to consider the way; space, place and time are configured and recognized as a result of contemporary changes in technological, economic and political practices. Thus globalization is defined in different aspects depending upon the background we discuss it.
Anyhow Alan L Mittleman , comprehend the definition of globalization under three aspects; First, as an intensification of global flow of goods and production factors facilitated by modern transportation and communication. Secondly, as a compression of time and space in a way that events in one part of the world have instantaneous effects on distant locations and finally to comprehend globalization as a historical structure of material power.
The term globalization started appearing in literature from 1980’s. Initially it referred mainly the economic transactions and growth of economy. Soon it started penetrating to other fields like political, with weakening authority of states, emergence of global governance order system etc. Globalization acquired cultural connotations with global culture, global civil society etc. and today the cultural connotation of globalization is also widely discussed. Thus the term globalization acquired all these connotations and exemplifying its influence on different realms of life. It is difficult to say what exactly constitute globalization as it is interpreted by different schools of thought on different matter at different point of times. But all of them agree on one point that globalization has a major impact on in this contemporary world. Many are not still sure whether globalization is a civilizing force or destructive force.
The globalization gained more momentum after decolonization that lead to the formation of new states in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Many used the term neo-colonialism to mark globalization which was more economic than political, more ideologically than militarily supported. The neocolonialist powers turned themselves into means of control which was facilitated by the global telecommunications system.
Background of Globalization:
Roots of globalization can be traced backed to the colonization of Asia, Africa and America by the Europeans, the then supreme power of the world. Search of new markets and source of wealth polished by industrial revolution lead to the establishment of international commodity markets and mercantilist trade. The deepened economic protectionism after the First World War and the Great Depression in The 1930’s and end of Second World War along with expansion of capitalism was tempered by establishment of socialism as an alternative form of capital accumulation and distribution. After Second World War the world has become more interconnected through innovations and advancement in sciences, travel and transportation, communication along with information and technology.
It is also a result of specifically conceived, planned and targeted neo- liberal policy and structural measures that was designed to bring all aspects of social, economic and political life under the tag of market capitalism. The Reagan administration in USA and Thatcher government in UK accelerated globalization through clearing the debt crisis, establishment of neo – liberalism as an economic framework (later came to be known as Washington Consensus) and the International Financial Institutions imposition of structural adjustment programs (SAP’s) in developing countries. The fall of Soviet Union along marking an end to Cold War along with the acceptance of nations on capitalism as the only viable economic order to create wealth and stability further made the way easier for globalization.
Different Schools of Thought of Globalization:
According to Held and McGrew there are three main schools of thought in globalization research. They are
Hyperglobalites focus on economic globalization which argues to denationalize economies and thereby creating global markets which would transcend state control, resulting in a loss of autonomy and sovereignty for the state.
The second school of thought, the skeptics argues that the globalization is a myth. Skeptics also question what exactly is global about globalization. If it is not a universal phenomenon, then the concept itself lose validity and is not specific.
The third school of thought i.e. transformationalists argues that globalization has structural consequences and is a driving force in society which influences political, social and economic change where we have a structural change and social a global shift with respect to how power and authority is organized.
Two phases of Globalization:
Globalization is not an instant movement. It is a culmination of long term process. According to scholars, they divide the entire process of globalization into two phases.
- First stage of globalization – 1870 – 1940
- Second stage of globalization – from 1970’s
If we make a close note on these two phases of globalization, it has a strong linkage with the two World Wars, which the globe witnessed. First stage of globalization ended up with the First World War and second stage of globalization started with Second World War. Basically there are three areas of changes happened in both the phases of globalization. They are,
- International Trade
- International Investment
- International Financial Flows
Let us discuss each phase with respect to the common areas very briefly.
- International Trade: In the case of International trade, both phases were marked with an increased export rate in developed countries compared to developing countries. This was because in the First stage of Globalization: (1870- 1940), there was imperialism and colonialism where the developed countries exported finished goods to their colonies which are today’s developing countries. In second stage, after the Second World War, the major beneficiaries of the war like United States, started dictating terms and conditions in the global market which was pro developed countries. Hence, in both the stages, there was an increased export by developed countries in comparison with developing countries.
- International Investment: There was a sharp increase in the case of international investment in second stage than the first stage of globalization. In the first stage of globalization, the stock of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was 9% in 1913. When we look into the second stage, there was a rocket speed increase in investments. FDI’s increased from 68 billion in 1960’s to 636 billion in 1980’s which later shoot up to 6000 billion in 1990’s. There was an increase in FDI of 4% in 1960’s to 20% in 2000. These increases were definitely due to the increased interference of Transnational Corporations (TNC) across the world.
- International Finance: With respect to International finance, let’s consider foreign exchange market. The second stage of globalization saw a sharper increase in terms of international finance compared to first stage. There was a huge expansion of international banking. Growth of loans, with respect to the bank’s output increased from 6% to 14% in the second stage. Liberalization of banking norms due to the International Organization influence can be sited as one of the reasons for this change.
There are similarities and differences in both the phases of globalization. This is deeply influenced by the three common areas mentioned above. A brief explanation is done below with respect to the two stages of globalization.
- Absence of dismantling for International financial transactions
- Development of enabling technology
- New forms of Industrial organizations
- Political hegemony or dominance
The differences were with respect to:
- Trade flows
- Financial flows
- Labor flows
Impacts of Globalization:
The proponents of globalization claim that it will lead to convergence of income, access to knowledge and technology, consumption power, living standards and political ideas. Adding on to that, integration of economies would lead to increase in economic growth and wealth. They also argue that more people would be able to enjoy the fruits of modernization and civilization. Critics of globalization argue that it is hegemonic, antagonistic to the poor and vulnerable and is weakening local and national economic communities and the environment. Therefore globalization has both positive and negative impacts. My further discussion would be done on the Economic, Political, Social and Cultural impacts of globalization.
Economic Impacts of globalization:
Globalization is expansion of economic activities across the boundaries of nation states. Globalization is marked with increasing economic integration and growing economic interdependence between countries of the world. There is an increased cross border movement of goods, technology, people, information etc.
The internationalization of economic activities began with the voyages of discovery of the European maritime powers. This process was further accelerated by the spread of industrialization in the nineteenth century. The key period in the process of Internationalization occurred between 1870 and 1914 when transportation and communication networks expanded rapidly around the world which lead to the significant growth with a considerable increase in the level of interdependence between rich and poor nations. There were very large flows of capital from European to other parts of the world.
In 1944, about 44 nations signed the Bretton Woods Conference which was held in order stabilize the world economy in the post World War II era. This conference paved way for the neo-liberal economic order that we see today with the establishment of International Organizations like International Monetary Fund, World Bank and International Trade Organization which basically accelerated the second stage of globalization. With respect to this, Chinese economic reforms began in 1980’s which opened China to globalization. However many demand for reforms in IMF and WB while others demand for the abolition of these organizations and a total restructuring of the world financial system.
Globalization brings new potentials for development and wealth creation. But there are divergent views on the economic impact of globalization. Few argue that the present model of globalization has increased the problems of unemployment, inequality and poverty, while others contend that globalization helped to reduce these aspects. The goal of globalization is to meet the need of people thereby increasing their standard of living, freedom and liberty and thereby a prosper life. But today, globalization has increased the gap between rich and poor and has lead to the marginalization of certain sections of the society. The developed countries are the one much benefited out of the entire process as there was an increase in exports, increased trade between developing countries where they always had a comparative advantage, increased presence of western based multinational companies which squeeze the labor and wealth from these countries etc. Basically the optimistic ‘Heckscher – Ohlin’ predictions do not apply here as neither employment creation nor the decreases in within country inequality are automatically assured by increasing trade and FDI.
The developing countries on the other side, injecting the western idea of capitalism their own economy without considering the basic foundations required for the stability of such a mode of economic production,, had to pay greatly in this business. The changed strategy of economic transaction and trade with the rest of the world has obviously helped the developing countries with many investments from other countries which provided labor and income for a good number of populations. But at the same time, we saw the huge gap between the rich and power plus concentration of wealth among few which lead to economic inequality in the society there by proliferating to other aspects of political and social impacts.
When we talk about the economics of globalization it consider largely the internal costs and ignores the external cost involved in it like environmental aspect. The MNC’s are concerned only with profit making which is driven by capitalism ignoring the cost that society has to pay for it. The global climate change along with extinction of many species can be attributed to the globalization to a great extent. Though the international organizations have fixed the limits of carbon emission and other pollutants, it is still pro developed countries that hamper the growth of developing countries.
Thus the economic impacts of globalization can be very diverse in different areas of the world giving rise to concentration and marginalization phenomena. As there is a skill biased technological change, the increased import of capital goods will lead to increased inequality. Increased trade was meant to foster economic growth but today what we see is a one sided benefitting deal.
Political Impacts of Globalization:
One of the major impacts of political globalization is that it reduces the importance of nation states. Many have organized themselves into trade blocs. Emergence of supranational institutions such as the European Union, the WTO, the G8, and The International Criminal Court etc replaced or extended the national functions to facilitate international agreement. This has reduced the sovereignty of nation states in taking important decisions with respect to their country where we see massive intervention of these organizations in all fields. It should be noted that the executive body of all these organizations are from USA and European countries which was reflected in their decisions as all of them were pro West legislations.
Another major impact of globalization is the increased influence of Non Governmental Organizations in public policy like humanitarian aid, developmental efforts etc. Many organizations have come forward with the mission of uplifting the most unprivileged societies of the world where there s massive funding of millions of dollars. Globalization has also lead to the growth of terrorism. Terrorism can be seen as a response from certain groups of people who were neglected and humiliated for centuries which lead to the wide spread terrorist networks across world which was accelerated with the ultra modern technology helping them to strengthen their network and activities.
Democracy is seen as the ultimate form of political stability by the world. This can be linked to the western intellectual propaganda where they highlighted the enlightenment values of freedom, liberty, tolerance etc. Under the pretext of establishing democracy in those countries where there was autocratic rule for years, United States intervened in many Middle East Asian countries recently. The whole idea was on extracting oil mines for which they took the economic, political, social and cultural control of these oil rich countries. This can be seen as a gradual movement to ‘World Government’.
The rise of global civil society is one of the major contributions of globalization. The multivariate groups make up civil society which often protests against capitalism. This shows the existence of a social sphere above and beyond national, regional or local societies.
Thus the political impacts of globalization are immense and wide across the nation state. The modern concepts of one government and showcasing democracy as the ultimate deign for a stable government etc has lead to massive scale of corruption, inefficiency and lack of transparency in these developing countries.
Social Impacts of Globalization:
The combination of increasingly advanced technology and complex social structure which were sustained by the ideas of change as desirable progress accelerated social change being one of the major spheres of impacts of globalization.
The social dimension of globalization refers to the impact of globalization on the life and work of people, families and societies. There are more social aspects for globalization beyond the employment, working dimensions, income, social protection etc. the idea of social justice is been now been a distant dream to be accomplished. The increased political and economic movement of globalization has left the major aspect of society, i.e. people. The idea of social justice aims at creating a society based on the idea of equality and solidarity, the values of human rights, the dignity of every human being.
When we talk about the gender aspect with reference to globalization, we can see increased participation of women in all fields of life. But evidences prove that women still work more as a casual labor. Though globalization has expanded women’s access to employment it has not done much considerable to reduce the gender inequality. Also, due to the influence of media and other socio-political- cultural aspects, the crimes against women have increased considerably.
Another major social aspect is that globalization ahs deeply influenced the social structure of different societies. Every society used to have its own unique culture with respect to the language, social norms, morality, civic sense etc. with the advent of media which has this special capability to influence millions at the same time has challenged the social institutions of the society mainly family. A particular society following their style of living without being much influenced by the western culture is now seen as ‘uncivilized’ which was a very cunningly designed propaganda of the west to inculcate their culture into the rest of the world and there by dominating the globe.
Globalization involves the process of stretching or extension and intensification of human activities, relations and networks across globe. Since globalization is a work in progress, the end result cannot be predicted. But it is obvious that globalization has a major impact on social realm of society across the world.
Cultural Impacts of Globalization:
The economic and political impacts of globalization are discussed very vividly among the scholars. The cultural aspect of globalization is something which attained global attention recently. So I will be discussing about the cultural impact of globalization much broadly compared to the other three.
David Held and Anthony McGrew’s definition of globalization which denotes “ the expanding scale, growing magnitude, speeding up and deepening impact of transcontinental flows and patters of social interactions”. Another sociologist, Roland Robertson argues that an interest in globalization arose from a division between sociology, which dealt with societies comparatively, and international relations and political science which dealt with societies interactively.
Arjun Appadurai argued that globalization has produced complex interactions between different cultures. He discusses about five ‘scapes’ which influence culture and argued that these factors ensure cultural diversity and not cultural homogeneity or domination. The five scapes are about the types of movements in the form of ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes financescapes and ideoscapes.
- Ethnoscape refer to flows of people such as tourists and immigrants.
- Technoscape include technology that crosses boundaries.
- Financescapes refer to flows of currency markets.
- Mediascapes refer to mass media technology and images.
- Ideoscapes also refer to images but specifically to the political and ideological aspects.
Appadurai argues that the act of consumption represents a convergence of global and cultural processes. He further added that what we have now is something beyond a consumer revolution (revolution of consumption) in which consumption has become the principal work of late industrial society. Today we see the availability of almost all kinds of goods and services in anywhere in the world with respect to literature, cinema, music, food, clothing, accessories etc. Western culture has diffused to all parts of the world to a considerable degree. Anyhow the cultural transmission is not a one way process. The popularity of Islam and cuisines of Asian, Latin American and African in western countries is an example of two way process.
The very concept of globalization is a major challenge for existing conception of world culture. It is clearly been discussed by the political scientist Samuel P Huntington in his book ‘The Clash of Civilizations and Remaking of the World Order’. According to him, the fundamental conflict in the world will not be ideological or political. But the great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. He also argued that nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. He said, the fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.
When we talk about cultural globalization the role of media and communication is also often discussed under this title. Globalization and communication are deeply tangled. There is a common agreement among the scholars that practically, there would be no globalization without media and communication. Media have a central place in globalization for three reasons.
- Media corporations have increasingly globalized their operations
- Global communication infrastructure facilitates global information flows.
- Global media play a key role in how we view events across the world in developing shared system of meaning.
The breaking up of space and time as a result of electronic media has a lot to do with the global interaction regardless of the disparities. The contemporary method of communication was altered by the new phenomena such as participatory journalism, online communities and transnational activism organized through online networks. Globalization has resulted in a rapid growth of social relations and social organizations on the internet. The emergence of new communication through online has been influencing the minds and brains of people through social networks, movies, blogs, online open debate forum etc. Thus mass media plays a larger role in cultural diversity than in cultural standardization.
The emergence of an Americanized World is something that we saw with the growth of globalization. A converging consumer behavior and tastes with the American model as a blue print for global culture can be traced as one of the major impact of globalization on culture. The emergence of English as the dominant language in business and academic works is another example of how one culture can gain dominance in the world with power and legitimacy when economic and political forces enable the spreading of cultures and values. Ulf Hannerz used the term ‘creolization’ to symbolize the process of western cultures being transformed and re – conceptualized outside the Western world.
There are positive aspects for cultural globalization that will foster diversity when there is an interaction between boundaries leads to mixing of culture which results in pluralization. There is condensation and differentiation on ideas which brought many unique aspects of certain culture into lime light. The concept of glocalization has gained popularity which would help in improving standards of life, without hampering the local tradition. Diversity itself has become a global value now which is been promoted by international organizations and movements.
Thus, Globalization has got huge impacts on cultural sphere. There is no question on the forms of ubiquitous, homogenous and hegemonic forms that spread through everyday life. However, there are also important forms of reproduction, interconnection and time-space aspect of these cultures and associated cultural practices.
Globalization is thus an ongoing syndrome. Globalization is not only about interplays between local, regional, national and global scales, but also about the interconnectedness, flows and uneven development in the world. The strategic keys that accelerated the growth of globalization were transnational corporations, technical change, governments etc. Globalization has brought not only advantages to the globe by providing large range of imported products or by raising the basic standard of living of people. But also has major impacts on the socio-political- economic and cultural realms of life by diminishing the role of state, challenging the unique culture of every society, attacking the social structures, much diversity in the global society etc. However, despite of identification of risks and opportunities of globalization, the whole phenomenon is still very difficult to predict.
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