Globalization is a very complex subject matter that ignites many heated debates among geographers, researchers and the general public alike. Although it may be interlinked with many phrases such as ‘global interconnectedness’ an attempt to define this in one sentence would be futile, as even with much discussion; the diversity of aspects that this term encompasses is too wide of a spectrum for anyone to come to a single conclusion. There are many concepts of globalization and as Aart-Scholte (2005) has clearly attested – “most existing analysis of globalization is flawed due to redundant concepts interlinked to the idea”. Universalization represents the most general outlook of globalization, where the exposure of foreign ideals and cultures worldwide blur the boundaries separating nations and diminishes a nation’s very uniqueness. Internationalization, liberalization and westernization are also concepts commonly linked to globalization, which deal with the more social, economical and political impacts of this process. As the subject matter in question revolves more around the economic and political power of globalization much more emphasis will be nucleated within these boundaries.
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The age-old question many authors seem to dispute about is the history of globalization. Is globalization a new phenomenon? Authors who affiliate globalization to internationalization and liberalization find this process to be one that had lingered since the early colonialist eras. Zevin (1992), Wade (1996), Hirst & Thompson (1999), O’Rourke & Williamson (1999) through research have obtained circumstantial evidence that levels of trade, migration and investment between countries were already prominent in the late 19th century. Hence making their point that there is nothing new in contemporary globalism much more convincing. On the contrary other authors find that global relations only bloomed after advances in technology that simplifies the accessibility of people and the media across great distances with technological innovations such as the invention of the jet aeroplane and computer network, with what has been deemed the ‘first global revolution’ and ‘new realities’ by authors such as Drucker (1989) and King & Schneider (1991). More realistically, I find the points brought up by authors like Roland Roberts (1994) to be much more compelling as the idea that globalization begun with what has been said to be a ‘germination phase’ in the 15th to the mid 18th century and inevitably ‘take off’ within the period of the mid 19th century makes perfect sense. At this point in time the globalization rate is astounding, where branches such as Walmart, Sony and even Tesco are branching out from their mother countries to nation states. As these massive corporations are starting to dominate the more politically and socially submissive smaller areas the economic control lays in the hand of these multi national corporations. Further debate can bring the conclusion either way, whether it may benefit the nation states with job opportunities and exposure to modern technology, yet the idea of exploitation must always weigh heavily in the back of one’s mind. As economic benefit will undoubtedly seep from the nation states to where the main branch may be located.
The statist mode of governance was greatly practiced before the boom of globalization. When globalization began to broaden its scale this diminished what used to be a more independent form of governance. As not only were most nation states dominated by polycentric regulations they were also given the opportunity to engage overseas, countries they may not have been able to connect with before. The suprastates and global law may have a certain amount of control over the smaller areas however with the development of global currencies, even the most powerful state has no authority over money supplies and exchange rates.
International relations theorists discuss what was called the ‘Westphalian’ mould, brought about in the 1600s. The peace of Westphalia formalized the modern concept of a system of sovereign states. With this sovereignty, much like colonialism, each state would exercise and dominate their territorial jurisdiction. Due to accelerated globalization the Westphalian practices had fallen into disuse. Large-scale globality made it impossible for statist constructions of sovereignity to keep its governance over the designated territorial space. Again as mentioned before, the government is unable to keep track with the electronic money transfers and documented workers in a world of rapidly developing technology.
One of many problems afflicting the world today is poverty. World Bank figures (2001) regarding the population that live on less than the equivalent of $1 per day dropped from 1.4 billion persons in 1980 to 1.2 billion in 2001. Critics though have argued that the methodologies used in these calculations have changed over this period, so the figures cannot be safely compared (Wade, 2002). Global trade better the situation of poverty as NICs increase exports of global goods and services. For instance China tripled between the years of 1978 and 1993 with the ‘opening up’ of global commerce. This is not always the case as very few countries reach NIC status and global trade rules as well as global financial crises bring dreadful impacts to the poor people. According to Coote (1996) primary commodities have poorer countries relying on exports yet even with an increase in globalization there was a steady decrease in profit from trade in the 1970s. World prices of primary commodities in mid 1990s stood at its lowest level since 1930s (ul Haq et al. 1995:29). It is clear that the problem of poverty even with the promises that come with globalization, for instance job employment and the growth of industry, has not been completely been eradicated.
There are many concerns that globalization has made its impact upon. One of which being crime. Globalization creates more opportunities to combat crime. Advanced technology increases the efficiency of surveillance and counter terror units hence theoretically making the crime rate decrease. However, looking at it in a different perspective globalization provide criminals with important tools to commit unlawful acts as does networking, introduced with globalization, strengthen the bond of powerful criminal organizations. Money laundering now stands at levels equivalent to 2-5 per cent of the world GDP per annum (FATF, 2004)
Peace on the opposite end of the spectrum is also heavily affected by globalization. Global connectivity introduces disincentives for war among OEDC states. The signing of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty regime, established in 1968 through the IAEA, discouraged the spread of nuclear weapons to more state arsenals. This treaty, however unsuccessful, was an attempt to control the arms rate of which global governance makes more manageable. Global reach, however, can send military interventions from north to south with ease. The advances in technology also help raise the destructive capacities of war. As mentioned before having media so easily accessible the profile of terrorist politics will be greatly highlighted hence leading to feelings of uncertainty and insecurity amongst the general public.
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Social cohesion is an important point of interest within the field of globalization. Neoliberalism exploits the social relation and looks at it as a competition for a place in the global marketplace. Which leads to a lack of cooperation and no collective interest. However a guaranteed state-nation-country-society-unit built up with large-scale growth of global spaces makes this very cohesion unfeasible. Globalization though maybe advantageous to the uprising of social cohesion may cause the complete opposite. As brought up by Scholte (2004) of how the global civil society has often undermined rather than forward social integration. Global relations may lead to a lack of intimacy as technological advances would promote web conferences and personal meetings would but be a thing of the past. Companies hold on to limited long-term commitments and workers have restricted opportunities locally before the labor market calls them.
Ecology plays a major role in the topic of globalization as the relationship between humans and the environment is just as important as the relationship between nations. Nature is highly unpredictable and with technology linked to globalization prediction of natural disasters is possible with satellite surveillance and digital processing. Having advanced media coverage can reduce the disastrous outcome of a natural disaster and also raise awareness for aid across nations. Take Haiti for example, a highly telecasted disaster of which media is playing a large role for relief, the ‘Hope for Haiti’ benefit. There is also a downfall to the advancements of technology as pollution is generally the outcome of new innovations. For instance, aeroplanes and motorships pose great threats to the sea and air with the amount of waste it produces. Also as globalization has successfully made the world “smaller” with advancements in the transport system, some companies; mainly those that produce highly toxic waste products, have ‘gone global’ in part to relocate at sites where environmental regulations are less stringent (Heerings and Zeldenrust, 1995). Hence foreshadowing a slowly deteriorating environment.
As globalization is a particularly broad subject matter it is difficult to restrain myself into a certain parameter. The process of globalization touches on most aspects of human geography, as it affects not only the social and political aspects of a country and its relationship with the world, but also environmental issues. There is no way in halting this process, as it is one for inevitable development hence supervision is key to determine positive results.
Total: 1521 words
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