Discourse on Globalization began in the 1980s and gained momentum over the following decade to become common in modern academic and political talk. Globalization largely refers to the movement toward an integrated global economy, marked by the free exchange of goods and capital. In popular discourse, Globalization is often related to the Internet revolution, the neo-liberal or free-market ...
Discourse on Globalization began in the 1980s and gained momentum over the following decade to become common in modern academic and political talk. Globalization largely refers to the movement toward an integrated global economy, marked by the free exchange of goods and capital. In popular discourse, Globalization is often related to the Internet revolution, the neo-liberal or free-market economies and the predominantly western political, economic and cultural style. Philosophers and social scientists contemplate Globalization as the compression of time and space brought about by the new inventions and technologies. They speak of the dissolution of physical boundaries, the unfolding of new forms of non-territorial social interaction. In social theory, Globalization is linked to accelerated social activity and increased interconnectedness between people. Globalization is also perceived as a transformation of multi-faceted, geographically-confined and historically-set experience into a one-dimensional and widely accessible global world where time and distance are no longer relevant.
From a historical point of view, the first wave of Globalization occurred between 1880 and 1914, with Europe as the main stage. It was economically driven by the advance of industrial capitalism and during the period through World War I, it was spurred by the rapid development of trade, increasing sources of information such as newspapers, radio and cinema and the significant modernisation of transport infrastructure, notably railways, shipping and airplanes. These key factors enhanced geographic mobility and accelerated trans-border flows of people and goods. This was a period of massive migration from poorer European countries (Italy, Ireland and Sweden) to the United States, which disadvantaged the US economy and resulted in the US immigration authorities tightening entry policy. The years between 1914 and World War II were marked by economic depression and protectionism and were therefore excluded from the Globalization picture.
The second wave of Globalization was in the period after World War II when the United States took centre-stage, assuming the role of global protector of freedom and democracy and ultimately emerging as the global power of goods. It was largely through the Marshall Plan propaganda, which was the American aid programme to rebuild war-devastated Europe and fight the spread of communism, that American consumerism entered Europe and became linked with democracy. Between the 1950s and 1970s, American movies and rock music transcended borders and blurred cultural differences. Coca-Cola and McDonalds became the symbols of consumption-centred Americanisation, while the American standard of living and production mode penetrated Europe. At the same time, the old continent was learning the lessons of the two wars and was making steps toward economic and political integration, from the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 until today's 27-member European Union.
From the 1980s the global landscape changed again dramatically, with a new wave of immigrants flowing from the southern European countries (Spain, Portugal and Italy) to the central parts of the continent to take temporary jobs, with a similar movement of people from Mexico and Central America to the United States, which changed governments' social and political policies. The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, that had split Europe in two from the end of World War II and symbolised the physical and ideological divide between capitalist and socialist nations, was the next major change in the 1980s. This was followed by the advance of new technologies, the rule of the Internet, computers and cell phones and the emergence of Asia as a new power in global capital markets.
While still trying to explain the reasons behind Globalization, analysts also focus on the multiple manifestations and contradicting consequences of the globalising world. The economic Globalization means increased production and competitiveness, free trade, faster economic growth but also elusive financial markets that can sink economies within a second and undermine the power of governments and state institutions. Globalization of labour markets intensifies income inequality, while outsourcing as a product of global economy drives employment and economic growth of developing countries. However this means further job displacement in industrialised nations where top-quality jobs are retained, while low-pay work is shifted to poorer countries. In the political context, Globalization brings forth supranational institutions such as the European Union, the World Trade Organization and G8, which are commended by some analysts as new advanced forms of self-governance away from the traditional territorially-defined nation-states, but also viewed by critics as detached from the needs of ordinary citizens. Cultural Globalization is also a double-edge process associated with the leveling of cultural distinctions and at the same time widening individual access to cultural diversity. Finally, Globalization poses questions of whether global democracy and social justice are achievable and whether this process of unification would lead to a better humanity.