The Successive Waves Of Globalization Cultural Studies Essay

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Globalization is not a new phenomenon, there were successive waves through history dating back to Marco Polo. But, after the break-up of Soviet Union, globalization accelerated through the world. Globalization is a series of social, economical, technological, cultural, and political changes that promote interdependence and growth. Globalization raises the standard of living in developing countries, spreads technological knowledge, and increases political liberation. (Harris 5-23).

Thomas L. Friedman, author of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, describes globalization as a movement that enables individuals, corporations, and countries to reach around the globe farther, faster, deeper, and cheaper than ever before. It is the spread of free market capitalism to virtually every country in the world.

People around the globe are more connected to each other than ever before. Goods and services produced in one part of the world are increasingly available in all parts of the world. International travel is more frequent. International communication is commonplace. This phenomenon has been titled "globalization". Not only the term of globalization has increased since last years, but also anti-globalization has appeared and is still increasing. Anti-globalization is the term for a group of different protest causes, including: environmentalism, third world debt, animal rights, child labour, anarchism, and anti-capitalism and opposition to multinationals. The most attacked institutions of anti-globalization protests have been especially World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Bank. As the big businesses are growing all around the world, anti-global activities and protests also increasing their level of intensity.

A Globalized World

In his book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman (1999: xxvii) describes the world as "being tied together into a single globalized marketplace and village", driven by "the spread of free market capitalism to virtually every country in the world" (p 8). Indeed, it has become commonplace to observe that we all now live in a globalized world, transforming the way we live and work. Globalization is evolving: aspects frequently highlighted include global media and telecommunication (Mobile phones and internet are now part of everyday life for most of the people around the world), global brands (Nike, Mc Donald's, Coca-Cola…), worldwide production and integrated financial markets. At the forefront of these phenomena are MNEs, benefiting from the opening of markets across the globe, and advances in computing and internet technology, which make it possible to link far-flunk activities in global network. Morrison, J, (2008).

What happens in one part of the world impacts people on the other side of the World. People around the world are influenced by common developments.

Everyone is impacted by the continuing increase in Globalization in a variety of ways. The types of food we eat, the kinds of clothes we wear, the variety of technologies that we utilize, the modes of transportation that are available to us, and the types of jobs we pursue are directly linked to Globalization. Globalization is changing the world we live in. (Harris)

Globalization impacts on societies, businesses organization and practice and governments.

Economic globalization is often seen as democratizing, beneficial, and unstoppable (Smith and Smith, 2002). For example, the world today is so interconnected that the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in the U.S. has led to a global financial crisis and recession on a scale not seen since the Great Depression of 1929.

Moreover, during the last decade, with current technological advancements, globalization has become more accessible. For example, businesses can now manage overseas operations with more control through the use of the Internet and improved telecommunications. Indeed, internet is a very cheap way of communication (In 2009, a quarter of Earth's population uses the services of the Internet.

Other example, thanks to the internet protest activity have radically changed the face of and generated renewed life in the reality of demonstrations. Gone are old-style gatherings confined to waving placards and banners, declaiming speakers, and moderate controlled matches in specific locations. The development of implementation of new tactics is a result of the impact of new technology and the ability of organizers to use it to their best advantage. The Internet has the greatest impact on these changes because it enables to organizers quickly and easily arranges demonstrations and protests. Individuals and groups are now able to establish dates, share experience, accept responsibilities, arrange logistics, and initiate myriad of other tasking that would have been impossible to manage readily and rapidly in the past.

1.1 Globalization of culture:

In the sphere of culture, there is cultural convergence as industrialization and modern urban lifestyles have spread to many countries, but cultural foundations of divergent societies persist. According to this more tentative view, gradual changes in nation-states and in national cultures indicates that globalization is more akin to a series of transformations, rather than single, all-encompassing system.

As Erla Zwingle, from the National Geographic article titled "Globalization" states, "When cultures receive outside influences, they ignore some and adopt others, and then almost immediately start to transform them.

One classic culture aspect is food. Across the world every body is eating classic Italian meatballs. During the 20th century, sports took on an increasingly international dimension. Sports bring spectators and participants from all over the world together. The effects of globalization on sports are vast, for example professional football opportunities are no longer limited to one country.

Even if globalization increased trade promotes material prosperity, it comes with a high spiritual and cultural cost. Indeed, globalization can sweep away cultural boundaries.

- The importance of technological innovation and communications creates the possibility and even the likelihood of a global culture.

1.2 Globalization of markets:

(The melding of national markets into a single global market; applies to standardized products, such as industrial goods and commodities, but for most customer products, national markets remain distinct.)

In his article "the globalization of markets" Theodore Levitt (1983), he predicted the merging of existing national markets for goods into a single global market, were standardized consumer products are sold in the same manner everywhere, the tastes and preferences of consumers everywhere having become irrevocably homogenized. However, it seems that the picture had changed by the late 1990's. Indeed, the modern MNE is not likely to come up with a model of the global car which is a hit with all consumers in all market, it is certain to have a global marketing strategy, targeting particular markets with products from its portfolio which it has reason to believe will be suited to needs and tastes in each market.

1.3 Globalization of production:

(A trend in manufacturing industries, in particular, of shifting operations to countries where conditions and environment are more advantageous for the firm than they are in its current location; usually involving cost reductions.)

Globalization of production allows companies to break down the manufacturing process into its separate stages, each in the most advantageous location. MNEs see developing countries as attractive locations for operations which depend on abundant low-cost labour.

1.4 Global transformations:

Globalization's hallmarks are increasing and deepening among organizations and individuals across the world. However, there are differing views on the extent of the changes taking place. The hyper-globalization view of convergence toward a global system has been somewhat blunted by the evidence of fragmentation in markets and societies, as well as nation centric policies of governments. The less radical view sees global transformations taking place in businesses, governments and societies through increasing interactions and evolving changes.

At the beginning of the 90's, there was an enormous support for globalization. They believe that everybody, both of the developed and the less developed countries will benefit. Since then, globalization has united the world but against it. In fact, one of the most important has been the global movement against globalization.

It's a global movement involving hundreds of thousand people all around the world.

The problem with globalization is that it is asymmetrical. The rich are getting richer and the poor just stay poor. Even if the poor were to get a little richer it would not mean that the poor are getting a fair share or the benefits of economic interrelations.


2.1 Alter-globalization: "Another world is possible".

is the name of a social movement that supports global cooperation and interaction, but which opposes the negative effects of economic globalization, feeling that it often works to the detriment of, or does not adequately promote, human values such as environmental and climate protection, economic justice, labor protection, protection of indigenous cultures and human rights. Many alter-globalists, unlike anti-globalists, seek to avoid the "disestablishment of local economies and disastrous humanitarian consequences" (Hinkelammert, Franz Josef; Ulrich Duchrow (2004). Property for People, Not for Profit: Alternatives to the Global Tyranny of Capital. Progressio. pp. vii).

they see their movement as an alternative to what they term neo-liberal globalization in which international institutions (WTO, World Bank, IMF etc.) and major corporations devote themselves to enriching the developed world while giving little or no attention to the detrimental effects of their actions on the people and environments of less developed countries, countries whose governments are often too weak or too corrupt to resist or regulate them.

Alter-globalization serves to unite various people around the world for a good cause: to fight for better treatment of Third World countries and their economies, workers rights, fair/equal human rights.

Furthermore, alter-globalization can be viewed as being purposeful and creating solidarity. Alter-globalization allows one the opportunity to see the difference they are working towards by eliminating the negative side effects already affecting our world (i.e. environmental pollution).

-Examples of Alter-Globalization movement:

'Fair trade' initiatives, corporate codes of conduct, and social clauses as well as a return to local markets instead of relying too heavily on global markets. They appreciate too, the convivial aspect of local initiatives and their promise of small but real alternatives to corporate globalization and mass consumption

Although multinational corporations and international trade institutions are the subject of criticism, not all observers share a negative perspective. Many commentaries are published which speak in favour of beneficial and positive accomplishments, especially in relation to the international institutions. For instance, free trade positively contributes to overall development of the world. Global free trade promotes global economic growth, it creates jobs, makes companies more competitive, and lowers prices for consumers. It also provides poor countries, through infusions of foreign capital and technology, with the chance to develop economically and by spreading prosperity creates the conditions in which democracy and respect for human rights may flourish. Unfortunately, anti-globalists do not see the good sides of globalization and they argue that economic growth does not necessary make people happier, and often makes them miserable; that institutions like World Bank have made the rich richer while making the "non-rich" poorer; that conventional idea of free trade are wonderful for managers and stockholders, but hell on workers and nature; and that a turn away the accumulation of things and toward more human pursuits would be highly welcome (Korden, 2001).

They also claim that countries individual cultures are becoming overpowered by Americanization.

1. The WTO only serves the interests of Multinational Corporation.

2. The WTO tramples over labor and human rights

3. The WTO is the enemy for environment

4. The WTO is killing people

5. The WTO is increasing inequality

6. The WTO undermines national sovereignty

Moreover, this food is over priced and it destroys traditions like home cooking, individualized family restaurants, and a balanced and healthy diet. McDonald's is a multinational corporation that does not customize its products and because of its enormous growth all around the world, McDonald's is the paradigm of mass homogeneity, sameness, and standardization which erases individuality, specificity and difference.

Anti-globalists express their ideas through protests that were usually peaceful in the past but nowadays their activities are getting more violent. The reason for violence is that the peaceful, soft way of communication did not have any effect, so they were forced to be harder. The example of so aggressive protest happened in September 2000 in Prague. The protest was organized by the Initiative against Economic Globalization in Prague (INPEG) and the target was the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund - the two international lending institutions which were holding their 55th annual meetings in Prague. About 10,000 protesters from practically every major city in Europe and North America came to Prague. Interesting is that this protest was not violent from the side of protesters but Czech police was brutal in trying to abolish the protest. The protesters wanted to continue the protest in the spirit of Seattle and the atmosphere was positive and peaceful. Thousand of people all over the world shared their views on anti-globalization. However, on the second day of protest, about 11,000-member force rounded up activists for no apparent reason and about 900 protesters were put in jail and were denied food, water and phone calls (Klein, 2000).

Activists argue they are not against the benefits of globalization (like speedy travel, mass communications and quick dissemination of information through Internet). Rather activists say they seek to get out a complex message that multinational corporations and the institutions that support them (WTO, the World Bank, IMF) are causing vast economic imbalances between rich and poor and horrible Third World debt (Straus, 2000).

Anti-global activists also claim that multinational institutions destroy the environment.

Globalization has many characteristics that can benefit some countries while undermining others. To some, globalization is bringing choices and opportunities, while to others it is a disruptive force that threatens lives, jobs, and traditions. In a global economy markets are without boundaries. Free market capitalism is the driving idea behind globalization. As a result, countries that are willing to participate in the global marketplace are encouraged to open their economy to free trade, privatization, and competition.

globalized trade, outsourcing, supply-chaining, and political forces have changed the world permanently, for both better and worse. (Thomas L. Friedman).

The world will continue to be more globalized. Improved trade agreements, rapid growth of developing countries and economical and technological advances promote globalization.


The philosophy of anti-global activists is not to destroy globalization that is bringing new technologies but to prevent inequalities which are caused by big businesses operating all over the world.