Historically, globalization has been considered both a great opportunity and a threat. Globalization is a multifaceted phenomenon which entails several economic, cultural, and political pros and cons. Discover here the implications and arguments for and against globalization.
Brief history of globalization
Globalization is a process of growing exchange, interaction and integration between people, governments and private organizations across the globe. International trade, capital flows, migration, technological transfer and cultural exchanges are some of the typical manifestations of this process. The encounters and relationships between ancient civilizations and the colonization processes initiated during the Age of Discoveries were archaic and early-modern forms of globalization. During the 19th century technological progress and the Industrial Revolution catalyzed globalization. The political and economic international agreements after the Second World War accelerated this process even further. However, this term really became paramount in the academic literature and media after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Union which enabled a much more fluid communications, exchanges of goods and services and migration.
For years globalization was equated with progress and economic growth and generally supported. However, in the last few years an increasing number of voices have started to criticize this phenomenon and point at several flaws and dangers associated with it. The anti-globalization movement has grown. Not only left-wing anti-capitalists oppose globalization, but conservative nationalists have recently emerged as a strong force against it. To what extent is globalization to blame for problems such as national unemployment, inequality, terrorism and cultural homogenization?
Globalization pros and cons
Globalization is such a complex phenomenon that here we are going to dissect its pros and cons across three different dimensions or angles: economic, cultural and political
Economic globalization echoes the views of neoliberal and neoclassicist thinkers in which states lose prominence and the world becomes a single global market of individual consumers. These consumers are characterized by their material and economic self-interest – rather than cultural, civic or other forms of identity. The expansion and dominance of global companies and brands is another key feature. These corporations contribute to deepen global interconnectedness not only by uniformly shaping consumption patterns across societies, but by binding economies together through complex supply chains, trade networks, flows of capital and manpower.
Pros of economic globalization:
- Cheaper prices for products and services (more optimized supply chains)
- Better availability of products and services
- Easier access to capital and commodities
- Increased competition
- Producers and retailers can diversify their markets and contribute to economic growth
Cons of economic globalization:
- Some countries struggle to compete
- Extractive behavior of some foreign companies and investors in resource-rich countries preventing economic diversification
- Strong bargaining power of multinational companies vis-à-vis local governments
- “Contagion effect” is more likely in times of crises
- Problems of “social dumping”
It refers to the process of transmission of values, ideas, cultural and artistic expressions. In the era of the Internet and fast communications people can interact more easily with each other. Multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism are to some extent manifestations of cultural globalization. Communities are less insulated than ever in history, even those who cannot travel can have today a good understanding of other cultures and meet virtually people from other parts of the world. People change their views and lifestyle influenced by global cultural and consumption trends.
Pros of cultural globalization:
- Access to new cultural products (art, entertainment, education)
- Better understanding of foreign values and attitudes. Less stereotyping and fewer misconceptions about other people and cultures
- Instant access to information from anywhere in the world
- Capacity to communicate and defend one’s values and ideals globally
- Customisation or adaptation of global cultural trends to local environment (“mestisage”)
Cons of cultural globalization:
- Spread of commodity-based consumer culture
- Dangers of cultural homogenization
- Westernization, cultural imperialism or cultural colonialism
- Some small cultures may lose their distinct features
- Dangerous or violent ideals can also spread faster (note the international character of the terror group IS)
The political dimension is a newer feature of the globalization debate, as over the last 30 years there has been a rise in the influence and power of international and regional institutions such as the European Union (EU), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), MERCOSUR in South America, and the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These international and supranational actors increasingly shape domestic politics.
Pros of political globalization:
- Access to international aid and financial support
- It contributes to world peace. It reduces risk of invasions, more checks on big powers and limitationn on nationalism
- International organizations are often committed to spread values like freedom and to fight abuses within countries
- Smaller countries can work together and gain more influence internationally
- Governments can learn from each other
Cons of political globalization:
- State sovereignty is reduced
- The functioning of international and supranational organizations is often not “democratic” in terms of representation and accountability
- Big countries can shape decisions in supranational organizations
- Sometimes countries can veto decisions and slow down decision making processes
- Coordination is difficult and expensive
To summarize, no matter from which angle we look at globalization, whether economic, cultural or political, both the opportunities and drawbacks are numerous.
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Pros and cons of economic, social and political globalization: is globalization overall positive for our societies?
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