The Truth About Globalization

Thousands, even only hundreds, of years ago, because people lived in different areas of the world, there was no way to communicate with others who happened to live far away. However, in today’s day and age, social media and the internet plays a large role in closing the large distance between countries like the United States and China, for example. Although globalization is a difficult term to define due to the fact that it embodies so many parts and is so much of why the world is the way that it is today, it can be explained as a set of processes that transforms the spatial organization of the world and links distant localities politically, economically and culturally. Although globalization is inevitable and can be considered necessary in some ways, it is bringing societies much closer together culturally than they needed to be with easier international travel, social media and television programming, including even news coverage.

Moreover, globalization is bringing societies together culturally through easier international travel. Due to the fact that it is now much easier for citizens of different countries to visit far away countries, the cultures are becoming mixed more often and in higher volumes than ever before. The advanced technologies and the ability to do this is a positive thing; however, it is blurring different cultures to the point where countries might be losing what previously made them special. For example, in the image below from this textshows how chain stores, Starbucks and McDonald’s in this case, have a massive amount of locations across the globe because now it is easier for companies to break through into other areas despite how far or the language that people speak there. It is something that is no longer apart of the culture of just the United States, but is now all over. Some would say that it is extremely disappointing that a chain like McDonald’s has spread all over the world and this would not have been possible without the easier international travel now, bringing societies together the way that it has.

Furthermore, globalization has also brought societies together culturally through the use of the internet and social media. In the image below, although it is kind of dated, it demonstrates the number of people that used the internet worldwide and the drastic increase from 1999 and 2000 to then 2008, and even now there would be way more people that say they use the internet on a daily basis.

With how many people, mostly young adults, that use social media outlets like Instagram and Twitter it is so easy for people to connect with other people their age on the internet. My high school had a sister school that we did a short exchange program with last year in Spain and the first thing we did when we found out who the kids we were staying with were was to follow them on Instagram and talk to them through there. In so many ways it is so incredible that we can do this and learn more about other cultures if we are not fortunate enough to travel there; however, it does come with some negative consequences. Due to the fact that I was able to talk to these kids in Spain and I did not even have an agenda of spreading American culture, those who do would be able to accomplish this very easily. American culture was just an example but people could take advantage of the connections and communications from around the world and homogenize groups that do not need to be homogenized. This article does mention how the use of the internet can improve human connections and spread knowledge and while this is true and a very positive impact of the abilities of the internet, the culture of each country is unique and different and should be preserved. In some respects, societies should not be brought together in the way that they are through the use of social media because of globalization.

Additionally, globalization has brought societies closer together culturally through television programming and news coverage. With Netflix that is so popular now, people in America can watch shows from other countries, mostly Spanish speaking, that people there watch and vice versa, they can watch typical American shows. For example, in this article, culture is described as something that changes gradually, not suddenly. While this is true, the gradual change could also be started by the smallest thing. A group of young students in school could be on Netflix watching a typical American show and they could start saying things that the American kids are saying or they are interested in wearing whatever trend is going on in America at that time. Of course, that is a small scale but culture is so delicate and should not be affected that much by other countries. As for the news coverage, the ability to exchange information from country to country is on the Global Cities Index as represented here and it is very important for the news to be able to get to other places faster for safety reasons. For example, if there was an earthquake that was going to cause a tsunami somewhere, it would be extremely important for the safety of thousands of people that the information gets there in time so people can escape. The ability to spread news like this is very positive; however, it can also cause problems when politics are brought into the picture and there are more differences of opinion and handling problems rather than just getting a message out for safety. Globalization has brought societies together through the use of television programming as well as news coverage.

Although some people might argue that either globalization has brought societies further apart or that it has brought them closer together in an all positive way, that is clearly not the case when looking at how the effects of cultures, such as the American culture, have affected countries throughout the world. With regards to culture, globalization thrived through the connections of the use of easier international travel, social media and the internet, as well as television programming and news coverage.

The Concerning Effects of Globalization on our World

As the modern world advances, so do business practices.  These modern day “retail giants” have shown the world just how much a profit means to them, even if it’s against their own people.  This is due to globalization, or the increasing of interconnectedness of the world through common processes of change. Large businesses have taken advantage of this process, leading to the division and damage of economies, environments, governments, and cultures.  While change can benefit certain parties, it also severely damage others. Society has progressed through technological advances, but as globalization develops by increasing international relations, it pulls society apart through economic division.

Over the past decades, the world has become increasingly connected due to new technology and other advances.  This increases interconnectedness, or globalization, has had multiple effects on our world. The recently most apparent being the economic division in both producer and distributor nations.  This is due to the ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor, as seen on the graph below below:

As shown on the graph, only 2.7% of the world’s wealth comes from 70% of the world population whereas almost 46% of the world’s wealth comes from the top 0.7% of the world population.  This drastic inequality of wealth can be attributed to the increasing globalization in our world. As a business closes its plants in its mother country, unemployment increases as these jobs are brought to foreign nations with less labor laws creating cheaper labor.  As a result the few executives of the business reel in massive profits, as prices commonly don’t drop due to lower costs of production; their previous employees must find new jobs, which tend to pay less as job demand increases. This profit-maximizing scheme awards executives with wealth while taking from the workers, the larger party.  The same result can be seen in the foreign nation as the workers are paid as little as possible, while the factory owners and shippers reel in big profits from wealthy overseas businesses. The week 6 reading from class even goes as far as saying, “low-technology manufacturing and assembly functions were being located amongst the world’s poor”.  This unhealthy system has been rapidly deteriorating economies as the gap between the rich and poor increases.   

The idea that globalization has pulling society apart is not a new one.  People have been fighting big businesses that move overseas for years, but to no avail.  The top few elite business owners and politicians rule the international market. As stated in one article, “Globalization is a house of cards built on a hill of sand on the shore of a stormy ocean, but the global ruling elite of political and economic leaders continue to sing the praises of their rickety construct while ignoring both its painful side effects and its risk of collapse”.  The elite gaining political power creates a social/cultural inequality that separates the elite from the majority of the population. The wealthy elite are able to gain this power and control as detailed here, “wealth can be seen as a “resource” that is very useful in exercising power. That’s obvious when we think of donations to political parties, payments to lobbyists, and grants to experts who are employed to think up new policies beneficial to the wealthy. Wealth also can be useful in shaping the general social environment to the benefit of the wealthy, whether through hiring public relations firms or donating money for universities, museums, music halls, and art galleries”.  Due to this fact, that the wealthy elite have power in their nation, economic progression with a more even wealth distribution is very difficult to create. The elite have no reason to share their wealth, and therefore use it to create power at a political level to maintain their wealth. As a result, a great cultural inequality is formed as specific groups are underrepresented or unheard.

While globalization has divided society, it also has its benefits that bring certain parts of society together.  The major benefit being the fact that globalization lowers prices and makes some goods more attainable. I only say some because there’s always a possibility that these goods would be more attainable if more people had higher paying jobs of production in their nation.  Low prices attract everyday consumers, which makes them purchase from big businesses outsourcing in foreign nations. This leads to the common misconception that these businesses benefit the people. After the benefit of lower prices comes the benefit to the nations. Both the mother country and the producing country rely greatly on import/export taxes.  These taxes account for a great deal of income to these national governments, and help decide leading nations in the world. Among these benefits sits a few more as stated in this week 7 reading, “Surpluses of capital and shortages of labor (or rigidity in labor markets because of political and institutional barriers) can be “fixed” either by the movement of capital to areas of labor surpluses and/or weak labor organization (hence North American capital moving into the maquillas along the Mexican border) or importation of cheap labor (as with guest worker programs in Europe) into centers of capitalist development”.  As described, globalization can help a nation together in a few different ways. While these are benefits to the nation and the nation’s elite, in the long run they still don’t benefit the majority of citizens. This eventually causes division in a nation, bringing the people and the nation apart.

 

The Negative Effects of Globalization on the Global Economy

Globalization, what is it and how does it affect the global economy? Basically, globalization is the impact people have on the world through culture, politics, and economics. Globalization can be impacted by new technologies which help connect all parts of the world. Through globalization, the world seems like it is becoming smaller. It now only takes 8 hours to fly across the Atlantic Ocean where decades ago it took weeks by boat. It can be difficult to decide whether the concept of globalization is pulling society together or pushing it farther apart. This is because of the different components that make up globalization. Now, to fully understand what globalization is, you must understand that globalization connects people from core countries like the United States and Europe to the periphery countries in Latin America and Africa. One of the driving forces of globalization is capitalism which is having a negative impact on the world. Globalization is bad for the world economically because of uneven development, the exploitation of resources from underdeveloped countries to core countries, and how overseas manufacturing is affecting America domestically.  

Globalization is bad for the global economy because of how it creates uneven development. The concept of globalization debatably started with the European colonization of Latin America, Africa, and India. In the 15th century when colonization began. Major world powers such as England and Spain took advantage of the abundance of recourses found in these new territories. In 1948 when England became the biggest power in India; violence, starvation, and corruption overtook the country. As a result, England continued to tax India heavily and export its recourses.  

The East India Company smothered the Indian economy and stopped it from developing. By 1840, the English parliament decided to convert India from a manufacturing country into a country that specialized in exporting. As a result, India would have to export their recourses to England in the form of raw materials only to buy them back at a higher price, after they had been manufactured into goods. Which created an economic gap between England and India. While England excelled economically, India was plagued with high taxes and an even larger trade deficit. Despite the fact that England colonized India almost a hundred years ago, the effects of uneven development can still be seen today. Because of English colonization, India was unable to advance economically, which creates setbacks in today’s economy. However, today India seems to be pushing toward a shift to a manufacturing economy  in an attempt to close the negative economic gap created through globalization. While this is considered a positive, that India is finally beginning to grow economically, in reality the country would already be fully developed if it wasn’t for globalization.  

Globalization also results in the exploitation of underdeveloped countries to benefit core countries which results in a poor path dependency. Andre Gunder Frank wrote in  The Development of the Underdeveloped that current underdeveloped state of Latin America is a direct result of capitalist development. As capitalism spread in Latin Americas, it only benefited the core countries. Meaning that during colonization countries like Brazil benefited from having a trade relationship with its colonizers. Core countries rely on underdeveloped countries for cheap labor and raw materials.  For example, the coffee trade was a major factor in boosting Brazil’s economy during colonization. However, shortly after its small economic success Brazil faced a server economic decline. This is because during colonization Brazil had a stable trade with European countries; however, when Brazil was on its own it could not sustain the small economy it had built. As a result of this, Brazil’s path dependency has prevented the economy from growing. Brazil was exploited to benefit European countries, and when the core countries brought their trade elsewhere, it had a negative and long-lasting impact on Brazil’s economy. Globalization is bad for the global economy because it puts developing countries on a poor economic path from which they cannot easily change; leaving the underdeveloped countries unable to develop.

Another aspect of modern globalization that negatively impacts the economy is how overseas manufacturing is effecting domestic jobs in America. Due to cheap labor and materials overseas, it is cheaper for products to be manufactured in countries like China than exported to the United States. Because of this shift in manufacturing millions of American jobs have been lost. The graph  shows the extent of job loss in America; over 6 million jobs lost due to manufacturing moving to China. In an attempt to combat this shift in the economy President Trump’s administration is looking to put protective tariffs on goods being imported into the United States from China. Resulting in a trade war between the United States and China. Globalization and capitalism directly resulted in suppliers in the United States looking overseas for cheaper manufacturing. This caused the loss of millions of jobs in America and a trade war with China. Globalization is bad for the global economy because it pins countries against each other in an effort to preserve their economy.   

Globalization is bad for the world economy. For decades, it has been prohibiting developing and underdeveloped countries from developing. It promotes overseas manufacturing which steals domestic jobs. Globalization also encourages core countries to exploit the resources in underdeveloped countries. 

Globalization has had a negative impact on the world economy. Since colonization countries have been experiencing uneven development, exploitation that prohibits the expansion of their economy, and trade wars as a result of capitalism and cheap labor overseas. While globalization can be seen as a good thing, in reality globalization has economically put core countries over developing countries and is not allowing these countries to develop. Even though globalization and colonization occurred almost a hundred years ago, the negative economic effects can still be felt in underdeveloped countries. While India and Brazil are working to fix their economies after colonization they still have a long way to go before they will be considered economically developed. In a more modern sense the negative impact globalization had on China and the United States is a on going issues that is effecting the worlds global market. Overall globalization had a negative impact on the worlds economy.  

Reducing Waste Throughout Your Day

Many of us have set routines to navigate through our days, whether we recognize them or not. However, few realize the amount of waste created throughout those routines. In the shower, no one really stops to think about what we do with the plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles when they’re empty or how much water is wasted waiting for the shower to get warm. What about the single-use k-cups for a Keurig coffee maker or the plastic water bottle taken to class or work? What about the amount of food thrown away after dinner? The point is that, there are many ways to reduce waste through the daily routines that we have.

               These little decisions in everyday life are not the driving force of this accumulation of waste. In reality, this accumulation is a product of a capitalist economic structure that requires this level of waste production from those participating in it, just so they can survive. One of the major issues within capitalism is the drive to expand, or globalization. This forces companies to have their products made in other countries where the labor and production process is cheaper. This results in exploitation of labor and depletion of resources in that country. Also, due to the number of miles these products have to travel, there is also energy waste created in travel. The cheaper labor fosters the “throw away culture” that the United Stated currently has and makes it more affordable, in some cases, to buy a new product than to fix a current one. Also, this depletion of resources in the countries that US companies outsource to forces them to rely on the production businesses to essentially run their economies. This gives the powerful countries a lot of economic control over the weaker countries who are losing resources. Most of the countries where this production is a key to their economic prosperity are underdeveloped and, with their economic authority given to other countries, will most likely never become fully developed or will take a very large amount of time to be able to be fully developed.

               Even though the products of a capitalist economy and perpetuation of that structure contribute to the amount of waste produced, there are steps that people can take in their every day lives that can reduce waste produced by the individual. Buying coffee from a coffee shop in the morning is a typical practice for most Americans, however this creates an enormous amount of waste around the world. Starbucks uses over four billion paper cups each year and most end up in landfills due to the combination of paper and plastic. Starbucks released a statement on the ability to recycle their plastic and paper cups:

“Recycling seems like a simple, straightforward initiative but it’s actually quite challenging. Our customers’ ability to recycle our cups, whether at home, at work, in public spaces or in our stores, is dependent upon multiple factors, including local government policies and access to recycling markets such as paper mills and plastic processors.

Some communities readily recycle our paper and plastic cups, but with operations in 75 countries, Starbucks faces a patchwork of recycling infrastructure and market conditions. Additionally, in many of our stores landlords control the waste collection and decide whether or not they want to provide recycling. These challenges require recycling programs be customized to each store and market and may limit our ability to offer recycling in some stores.”

Coffee companies are addressing the inability to recycle their cups, but one could eliminate that waste by taking a reusable cup to a coffee shop. In Starbucks now, they sell reusable cups specific for their brand. Although Starbucks is only one example, I believe replacing single use cups with re-usable ones, and using that strategy for other food or single-use items, can be applied in many other facets of life.

 

 

In the work place and school, a lot of paper waste is created. Buying recycled paper products and keeping recycle bins in convenient places around the office or school are techniques that could reduce this waste. Also buying energy efficient technology would curb energy waste. The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is a “tool created to help institutional purchasers in the public and private sectors evaluate, compare, and select desktop computers, notebooks, and monitors based on their environmental attributes”. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, EPEAT certified products “must meet environmental performance criteria that address: materials selection, design for product longevity, reuse and recycling, energy conservation, end-of-life management and corporate performance”.

For college students, this can be an even bigger challenge due to the lack of access to stores and transportation. However, there are a multitude of ways to reduce waste in a college setting. From packaging-free shampoo bars and sustainable dental floss, to bringing your own cups to parties instead of using plastic cups, “Trash is For Tossers” provides many guides, tips, and tricks to reducing waste in one’s life.

Unfortunately, the lifestyle that reduces waste is not the most accessible one. The “zero waste” lifestyle is a privileged lifestyle. Not every person has accessibility to the resources that help this life choice or the money to be able to attain those resources like reusable produce bags or washable straws. Also, some don’t have the privilege of an education that teaches them about this lifestyle or the hazards of waste produces by other lifestyles.

Working toward reducing waste is a noble effort and an honorable goal. However, it is still a difficult process to adopt due to the wasteful culture we live in. There are many ways to reduce waste in multiple life settings, but it is important to remember that one does not have to, and is usually not able to, switch these habits completely in a short amount of time. Attempting to reduce and being conscious of waste production is important and is becoming necessary to sustain our planet but be patient with the process. Everyone wants a chance to save the world, and through waste reduction efforts, you can get that opportunity. Remember, every day, that you can take steps to save the world.

Is the World Getting Smaller?

Globalization: the word itself just sounds confusing. But hopefully, this blog will clear a few things up about globalization and its effect on society. It may sound confusing, but there can be simplified ways of analyzing and looking at globalization. Globalization comprises a set of social processes shifting in human relationship toward globality. This is facilitated through advancements in communication and transportation technologies that could potentially speed up transportation and increase productivity. This means that human relationships are changing from personal/local relationships to global human relationships. There are some major tensions within and surrounding globalization like uneven development and homogenizing vs differentiating forces, and there are many questions surrounding both issues. This post will be focusing on the question: is globalization pulling society closer together or pushing us further apart? The answer is both! When answering and analyzing these questions it is important to specify the society one is evaluating and in relation to which topic. My argument is that globalization is pulling the world society closer together culturally and politically, while pushing us farther apart economically.

To understand the current condition of globalization, it is important to understand it’s history.  Globalization has been going on, arguably, since the prehistoric period (10000 BCE- 3500 BCE), as covered in chapter two of “Globalization: a short introduction”, when hunters and gatherers would explore continents and settle on that land (p. 20). The author wrote “Advanced forms of technology capable of overcoming existing geographical and social obstacles were largely absent; thus, enduring long-distance interactions never materialized”. This caused the level of globalization in this period to be very limited in comparison to the next periods in history. Some of these forms of technology included the invention of language and the wheel in the premodern era (3500 BCE- 1500 CE). The picture below illustrates the spread of humans around the globe during some of these periods. Toward the end of this period, elaborate trade networks were established which influenced the spread of ideas, cultures, religions, and, unfortunately, diseases that wreaked havoc on societies that were not used to the new illnesses. During the early modern period (1500-1750), the basic groundwork was laid for the capitalist economic system we have today. With the modern period (1750-1980) came increase in world trade, innovations in transportation and communication, a word population explosion, and an increase in rapidity of industrialization. Now, we are in the contemporary period and are witnessing large amounts of expansion and interdependencies on a global scale. All of these factors and their products were key players toward expansion of globalization.

(http://moodle.bucknell.edu/pluginfile.php/998394/mod_resource/content/0/Chap%202%20v.pdf)

Culturally, the world is more intertwined with each other than ever before. This began with the setting up of trade routes in the early premodern era where people and merchants would travel these routes and exchange goods. This exchange of goods often came with an exchange of language and cultural ideals, and expansion of one’s knowledge of people different from themselves. None of these would be possible, however, without the evolution od technology of travel. The invention of the wheel leading to animal drawn wagons or carriages, the onset of sea travel, the making of cars and airplanes, and the creation of standardized navigation systems all contributed to the intermingling and mixing of cultures. Also the popularization of mass media created awareness of other cultures and societies as shown in Globalization: a short introduction on page 33, “the 20th-century arrival of mass circulation newspapers and magazines, film, and television further enhanced a growing consciousness of a rapidly shrinking world”.  As Shanza Khan and Adil Najam in their essay on globalization, “The process of globalization suggests two simultaneous images of culture. The first image entails the extension outwards of a particular culture to its limit, the globe. Heterogeneous cultures become incorporated and integrated into a dominant culture which eventually covers the whole world”. America, for example, is often referred to as a melting-pot of cultures which is a result of the technological advancements of globalization.

Politically, world societies have been more interconnected than ever. With the innovations of technology that advanced communication and non-face-to-face interaction, one country has more influence on another country than even a few years ago. Before navigation technology such as maps and compasses, one country’s leaders neither had any influence on not any concern with the others. For example, the US played a key role in upholding the reign of some foreign leaders, whether it was good for that country or not, because that leader had a favorable relationship with the US. Another example is the accusations of Russia’s interference in the US’ 2016 election. If the allegations turn out to be true, this would be a perfect example of how technology has brought different countries so close that they can affect the results of an election for leader of that country. While this sense of globalization might seem freeing or natural to some, for others, it leads to an ultimate cut-off of their freedom. Charles O. Lerche wrote in his journal for the International Journal of Peace Studies, “…nation-states themselves experience steadily decreasing freedom of action and ever closer ties to each other”. As each country becomes more and more intertwined with each other, this limits the freedom of weaker (or periphery) countries from the more powerful (core) countries.

Globalization contributes to the widening of wealth gaps between countries through capitalism, which is a fundamental player in ongoing globalization. A key factor in capitalism in the division of labor, both on a local scale and on a world scale. This division is when countries have a more efficient and profitable means of producing a few products and specialize in those products. This creates importation of basically everything else needed in their society a necessity. It then becomes necessary for periphery countries (as described above) to enter into disadvantageous trade relationships with core countries that exploit the periphery country’s labor, goods, and resources. All of this furthers the wealth disparity between countries and forces countries further apart in that sense.  These economic inequalities create other imbalances in the educational and health fields as discussed in this article from the NY Times, which creates more interdependence between countries.