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Theoretical Perspectives On Globalization

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Published: Fri, 19 May 2017

The last century has seen a growth in the intensity of globalisation. It is argued to be one of the main forces that have shaped politics, economies and societies. The purpose of this assignment is to evaluate one of the main theoretical perspectives on globalization. It will begin by defining the concept globalisation. Following this, the assignment will outline two key perspectives n globalisation phenomenon; the hyperglobalists perspective and sceptics’ perspective. Thereafter, the assignment will examine one policy concern and how it links to the sceptics’ perspective on globalisation. The assignment will then conclude.

Definition of Globalisation

The concept of globalisation has been argued to have no distinct definition, is challenging to distinguish and has often been used ambiguously. The term has a ‘theoretical construct that is itself contested and open for various meanings and inflections’ (Kellner, 1997:25). The meaning of globalisation is dependent on the context in which it is used. It has been argued to be ‘a prominent topic among geographers and sociologists as well as economists and political scientists, and is studied within every paradigm, from neo-classical economics to post-modern social theory to realist international relations theory to Marxism’ (Radice, 2000: 6, cited in Sudgen and Wilson, 2005:15). Globalisation includes distinct phrases such as global culture, free trade, internationalization and interdependence. According to Mursheed (2001:1) ‘the term is employed in the enumerative sense to define a reaction to increased integration, and the policies that follow from there’.

On the other hand, Held and McGrew (1999) portrays globalization through the use of four main changes, primarily, it encompasses the eradication of borders as a result of economic, social, and political behaviour. The subsequent characteristic contains the growth of links between culture, trade flows and investment. The third characteristic is the intensification of the combination of consumer preference, ideas, goods, information, capital and people. The last characteristic comprises of the prospective global impact that local developments have on other economies, perhaps resulting in global consequences. Held and McGrew further argue that these are the characteristics that illustrate globalization as remarkably fluid.

Theoretical perspectives on globalisation

The concept of globalisation has provoked much disagreement and discussions about its benefits and conceptualization. There are two schools of thought that argue two extreme accounts of globalization and its impact. These are referred to as the hyper-globalists and the sceptics. Both views provide a distinct perspective on this topic. Hyperglobalists generally recognize the globalization phenomenon as an element with positive economic, social and political outcomes. Globalisation is considered a process which involves interconnectedness and shapes global integration. According to Ohmae (1995), globalisation represents a new phenomenon whereby international law has predetermined the conclusion of the nation-state. Optimists promote the idea that globalisation established a single global market capable of managing itself. In contrast, sceptics’ argue that a discussion on globalization condemns the characteristics of globalization supported by the hyperglobalists (Hirst and Thomspon, 1999). Sceptics reject the notion of a ‘new’ globalization and argue that globalisation is not unique and has been a longstanding phenomenon. However, sceptics do not oppose globalisation altogether but oppose it in its current form (Deadroff, 2003). Stiglitz (2002) and Kellner (1997) argue that globalization creates dissatisfaction, and is viewed as a new form of capitalism or imperialism which inherently negatively affects tradition, culture and less developed countries.

The sceptics’ perspective on globalisation

Having highlighted both extreme perspectives on globalisation, the assignment will now focus on one main theoretical perspective chosen for this particular assignment which is the sceptics’ perspective. The sceptics argue that globalisation is ‘a necessary myth’ to conceal developed countries and institutions goal of expanding neo liberal policies globally (Held et al, 1999). They assume that globalisation is a tool used by those in power such as America and Europe to dominate what happens in the world. However, Sceptics ‘do not presuppose a desire to eliminate globalisation…but…agree that many aspects of it is awful’ (Deardroff, 2003:643). For example, sceptics argue that although globalisation benefits developed economies it indirectly disadvantages less developed countries. In 1999 the United Nations found that there were less than 20 less developed countries that had positive gains as a result of globalisation (Shangquan, 2000). The research illustrated that the difference of income per capita reported between the richest countries and the poorest countries had increased from 30 times in 1960 and to 70 times in 2000. Consequently, the difference signifies the magnitude to which globalisation benefits developing countries, however, it is evident that developing countries do not benefit as much as their developed counterparts. Therefore, globalisation is argued to unfairly redistribute income, thereby increasing the wage discrepancies between the skilled and unskilled labor force (Jenkins, 2006). This inevitably creates societal and hierarchical disparities which inherently has an impact on local culture.

Culture and globalization

Sceptics argue that globalization threatens local tradition and culture (Kellner, 1997). Globalisation is argued to have diffused consumer belief systems through imposing a new sense of identity, displacing traditional cultures and ways of life. According to Hannerz (1991) consumer preferences of products, for example food, movies and music, enables consumers to embrace the culture and tradition of the producers’ country as it is circulated through distribution. To illustrate, Americanization, which refers to American culture has flooded non-western markets with products priced at resoundingly cheap rates which have been argued to have threatened the availability of local produce resulting in the displacement of local farmers. Fundamentally, host countries purchase American goods which essentially encourage local people into embracing the culture consequently resulting in the reshaping of their own culture. There is a fear among developing nations of losing their tradition and identity as a nation, for example, countries such as China. China has evidently blocked global cultural influences from accessing their markets through the limitation of access to the internet, media and publications.

Conversely, globalisation has been argued to have evidently caused an increase in migration rates and import rates in the UK over the years. Whilst the movement of produce has been enjoyed by the UK, the movement of people has not. Migration has brought forth people with different cultural backgrounds to the UK, which however, has been feared to have had an adverse impact on the English culture and welfare system. Movement has been gained through employment in transnational companies by the educated few whilst the poor have been restricted to illegal means. Nevertheless, in terms of culture, UK has seen an increase in diversity and a high level of the importation of different cultures disseminated through the re-distribution of produce sought from foreign countries which are less developed countries.

Critical evaluation

Hyperglobalists disregard cultural differences and perceive culture as a variant such as consumer preferences as a result it does not have an impact on the global economy. The new globalization era governs economic, social, political and cultural orders through government and institutional policies (Deardroff, 2003). This has been evidenced through institutions such as The International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and transnational companies. Held et al (1999), note that these institutions facilitate and cultivate the globalisation phenomenon. For example, the World Trade Organisation, which is one of the primary hyperglobalists institutions has influenced universal integration and has an international reputation for its endeavours in shaping the universal market and trade. These institutions are often referred to as the key actors of globalization, argued to have superseded government authority (Klein and Naomi, 2000). However, within these institutions sceptics argue that decisions made are mostly controlled by the rich countries, e.g. America (Deardroff, 2003).

Conclusion

To conclude, globalisation is a phenomenon that has been heavily debated from different perspectives over the last century. Having examined the concept and perspectives on globalization this assignment has highlighted the sceptics’ perspectives on globalisation and its impact on culture. The assignment argues that globalisation is influenced by American culture, dominance and regulations. Culture is important and has been vehemently influenced by globalisation, through the diffusion of western produce, technology, and publication in non-western local markets and homes. The impact socially can be argued to have had both negative and positive results. It is evident that globalisation has had positive impacts on economies and politics, through attempts to improve the health of people in poor countries and attempts to reduce pollution, however, culturally the impact has not been a desired one.

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