Globalization and Democratization in Asia: The Construction of Identity

Globalization and Democratization in Asia: The Construction of Identity

Globalization and Democratization in Asia: The Construction of Identity

Globalization and Democratization in Asia: The Construction of Identity

Synopsis

An interdisciplinary text, this volume shows how simplified views of globalization, that define it as either good or bad, are unhelpful when analysing the impact globalizing forces are having on Asian societies.

Excerpt

"Globalization" is defined here in terms of the increasing scale and speed of exchanges of people, products, services, capital, and ideas across international borders. Economics is the vanguard and most basic driving force in this dynamic, and among economic factors finance is most important, because of the great fluidity and fungibility of money. Some $1.2 trillion in currency currently changes hands daily in foreign exchange markets, six times the amount of a decade ago and 85 per cent of total government foreign exchange reserves (Auguste 1998). Economic globalization entails a relative derogation of political institutions and the enhancement of markets as an alternative means of facilitating transnational activity, with regional and international markets subsuming and integrating national markets (Weber 2000). Commodities follow cash, facilitated by the declining unit costs of communication and transportation in the international arena and by the consequent economic advantage of moving factors of production from place to place. Since 1945, average ocean freight charges have fallen by 50 per cent, air transportation costs by 80 per cent, and transatlantic telephone calling charges by 99 per cent. International trade has assumed unprecedented scale and geographic reach: its share of world gdp has doubled since 1950 and will continue to increase more rapidly than other economic indices. Economic and cultural globalization has proven impossible to disentangle, given the commoditization and digitization of symbolism (for example, electronic entertainment is now the second largest American export). Thus globalization, spurred by opportunities for generating both inflated mnc profits at the micro level and superior gnp growth prospects at the macro level, continues to gather momentum (Frenkel and Peetz 1998).

Globalization is by no means a new phenomenon: idea systems such as Islam or Marxism have had transnational appeal for centuries, and commodities and personnel have long been mobile (for example, there was greater demographic mobility in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries than today). But global mobility has since the end of the cold war become unprecedented in speed, range, density, and compression. This has notoriously been facilitated by recent technological innovations in cybernetics and telecommunications. But of at least equal importance have been various political watersheds, such as the successive rounds of the gatt, followed in 1995 by wto talks; the

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