Once upon a time, you had to spend days and months crossing deserts and oceans to eventually deliver a message to the other side of the globe. Now, everything happens with a press of a button. The longest journey to the farthest spot on the planet will probably take you a couple of days in a comfy plane. The world is no longer as vast and spacious as it once was. Technological advances have paved the way to a smaller, more interconnected present. Through globalization, we are exposed to the various faces of the different cultures of the world.
You probably have a vague idea about globalization and the cultural, political, and economical aspects of life that are consequently affected by it. What is globalization? In what way is the whole world changing as a direct result of it? In this article, we will attempt to answer these questions. We will also study the state of the new world we currently live in: the connection, the openness, the acceptance, and, more often than we would like, the corruption.
What Is Globalization?
According to Investopedia, globalization is the process in which investments, funds, and businesses cross national borders to blend in international markets around the globe. Globalization is not restricted to economic commodities; the integration involves cultures and politics.
In a way, globalization is a term for the openness the world has gradually experienced with the rise of modern transportation and technology. People have always traveled from one country to another. With their travels, trade flourished and their cultures spread out. A simple example of globalization would be how you can conveniently try Thai, French, and Brazilian cuisines all in one American city. The Internet has probably sealed the globalization deal, but before the Internet came to public existence, cultures, languages, and beliefs were integrated with immigration and/or colonization.
Nowadays, we live in an open, culturally diverse world. What a country produces is available in the market of another a couple of days later. Brand names, movies and technology have become international. Today, the whole world is familiar with words outside their diction: Spanish, Arabic, French, German, and more words have comfortably found their way into the English dictionaries, and vice versa. At this point, we have all grown up absorbing the differences that we can no longer distinguish between what was originally ours and what we adopted on along the years. But that’s mostly an upside of globalization. Nevertheless, the effects of globalization are almost irreversible – whether that’s an upside or downside.
Globalization and Technology
Since economic interest was the main motivation behind globalization, it was inevitable for technological progress to focus on flattering the economy and multiplying its growth. Technology has remarkably transformed the economic scene. According to Globalization101, information technology has provided individuals with all the necessary tools to sustain success, including “faster and more informed analyses of economic trends around the world, easy transfers of assets, and collaboration with far-flung partners.”
The Internet has definitely facilitated access and integration in the economic market. Today, business and individual deals can be solely closed online. Purchase and financial transactions are buttons away. Job recruiters can easily find job candidates and job seekers can effortlessly apply to their dream jobs online.
In addition to the open markets, the Internet has built bridges between cultures, nationalities, and religions. Knowledge is easier to acquire, and people connect with smoothness and fluency. Distance is no longer an issue.
Arguments for Globalization
Opinions vary on whether the impact globalization has on individual economies and cultures has been positive or not. Let us review a few arguments that actually support globalization.
Developing Countries Get a Chance
Globalization allows countries that are still struggling to build and develop to get wealthier. It was observed that, in 1960, economies had an annual rate of growth of 1.4%, while globalized economies had an annual rate of growth of 4.7%.
Local producers are now capable of selling their products in international markets. Now, a country can rely on the efficiency and capacity of a certain field of its industry, such as agriculture, technology, or otherwise.
Consequently, wealth increases, and with it the standard of living. Globalization can play a role in flourishing the economy of a country that once struggled to pay its debts or feed its citizens.
Advancing Better Politics
The interconnectedness of the new world advocates for a better, more democratic system of governance. Now that every culture is open and aware of others, it is easier to tell right from wrong and oppressive from free.
On the other hand, increasing global trade establishes strong mutually beneficial relationships among the different countries of the world, reducing the need for wars. When war has disastrous economic consequences for the countries involved, enmity won’t be the first option any conflicting countries would turn to.
Improving the Quality of Life
With better employment options, the general standard of living will rise. Individuals will be able to support their families and themselves. Because the world has become a small village, individuals have better options at protection in cases of prosecution in their own countries.
International travel, immigration, getting a job abroad, and international scholarships are provided to the world’s citizens. Opportunities at a better living or a more specific education are at hand if you’re dedicated and you want it enough.
Aside from that, the latest technology, advances in medicine, or new educational methods are not limited to their country of origin. Now, the benefit is universal. Wherever there is good, it will spread out to reach the rest of the world.
It’s difficult to keep a closed intolerant mind when you’re surrounded with an ever-connected world. If you’re aware that the device you’re holding in your hand right this very moment is a combination of Chinese, Taiwanese, American, German, and Emirati efforts, how can you hold on to any preconceived notions you’ve had of any of these nations?
In a way, globalization is facilitating the road to a more accepting, more tolerant world. We are now fully knowledgeable of the atrocities taking place around the globe and are able to understand and even intervene to protect and save our fellow humans.
But, like with everything, there are also drawbacks. Is our world ready to carry on as one big diverse unit? Have the bad guys already found a way to exploit what the new globalized system offers for their own good, leaving silent victims here and there?
Arguments against Globalization
Those who argue against globalization have a few valid reasons too. Among them are the following:
If we can zoom out and look at the bigger picture, we’ll have to face the fact that at any given moment, the world has a limited number of jobs. Providing a part of the world with more jobs means fewer jobs for the other parts. It goes like this: employers are aware that employees in a certain company in the developed world demand specific rights: social and medical insurance, humane work conditions, regular holidays, etc. They also require a minimum of salary/wages. Now, when said employers relocate to a developing country where employees are less aware of their rights, what happens is, they’ll demand less costs and less effort.
This is a direct consequence of globalization. While it does provide developing countries with more opportunities in the job market, it is not often done with good intentions. It results in unemployment in the home country and the exploitation of unknowing individuals, who will do the same job for much less money.
Environmental laws are not globalized. When a country prohibits a certain factory for environmental reasons, either because it seriously contaminates the environment or because it has grave dangers on humans and/or animals around the area, factory owners could easily relocate to another country that simply don’t have similar laws or prohibitions.
Nothing governs this process. What doesn’t work here could just work there, and corruption and exploitation can easily fit in poorly supervised countries.
The Poor Could Get Poorer
Capitalism does not have a heart. It’s a simple equation of whether you can make it in the fierce competition or not. Although globalization gives the chance to developing countries to get out there, engage in international trade, and establish their own place on the economic map, it only works if they have what it takes, what the world would like to consume. A poor country with nothing to offer at the moment, due to either civil wars or natural disasters or dictatorships, is only doomed to get poorer.
Because people are always on the move, it’s often difficult to contain new viruses or diseases. Most health threats take a while to get public attention; during this period of time, millions of people would have already crossed borders back and forth, possibly bringing with them a new or a dangerous disease.
Most of the above mentioned arguments are valid, though unavoidable. The buse of loopholes and manipulating the system will always be an issue whether we lived in a big wide world or a conservative closed tribe.
Speaking of tribes, one of the major concerns regarding globalization is that it allows less popular or indigenous cultures to fade away and vanish, replacing them with a version of the fanciest most eye-catching culture of our times: that of America.
Americanization has recently become a main concern for non-Western countries. The American lifestyle has greatly influenced the world. American TV-shows and movies orbit the whole planet, spreading out American customs, language, habits of living, and even expectations.
Conservative communities regard Americanization as a serious threat to their values and heritage. Other cultures worry that their youth’s infatuation with America negatively affects their pride and connection in and to their own homelands.
Between McDonald’s and the new Brad Pitt movie, Apple’s fascinating new iPhone, the finale of “How I Met Your Mother,” and the green currency that controls pretty much everything, in a way, we’re all living in America.
The steps the world took towards an open global world cannot be taken back. The human race cannot afford solitude and confinement after the degree of freedom and communication we have already established. Because globalization cannot be done without, what we need are new systems and laws that ensure every single country can profit from globalization, eliminate abuse, and protect both the worker and the consumer.