Contemporary globalization Essay

‘Contemporary globalization marks a decisive shift between nations’. Discuss with reference to either economic or cultural or political relations.

Globalization has become more evident during the late twentieth century, and so to has the realisation that it affects both nations and individuals alike regardless of culture, race, economic status or any other distinction. The term globalization captures elements of a widespread perception that there is a broadening, deepening and speeding up of world-wide interconnectedness in all aspects of life, from the cultural to the criminal, the financial to the environmental.

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An issue that is the focal point seems to be a global shift; that is, a world being moulded, by economic and technological forces, into a shared economic and political arena. There are three opposing views within the area of literature on globalisation. However, whist taking these views into account it is important to remember that this issue is viewed in terms of not just economic terms but to look at the bigger picture and how globalisation can and has been influenced by systems of communication and which the very existence of, alters the texture of our lives (Giddens 2006). The globalists argue that we live in an increasingly global world in which states are being subject to massive economic and political processes of change. These are eroding and fragmenting nation-states and diminishing the power of politicians.

In these circumstances, states are increasingly the ‘decision- takers’ and not the ‘decision-makers’ (Held, 2004, page 3). Then there are the sceptics or inter-nationalists who resist this view and believe that contemporary global circumstances are not unprecedented. In their account, while there has been an intensification of international and social activity in recent times, this has reinforced and enhanced state powers in many domains (Held, 2004, page 3) and that the significance of globalization as a new phase has been exaggerated (Cochrane and Pain, 2004, page 23).

There is also the view of the transformationalists who argue that globalization is creating new economic, political and social circumstances which, however unevenly, are serving to transform state powers and the context in which states operate. They do not predict the outcome but they believe it is uncertain there is no longer a single global economy controlling the production and consumption patterns of every human being (Kelly and Prokhovnik, 2004, page 89).

Globalization can usefully be conceived as a set of process which represents a transformation in the spatial organisation of social relations and transactions, generating transcontinental or interregional flows and networks of activity, interaction and power. It can be characterised by four types of change. Primarily, it involves a stretching of social, political and economic activities across political frontiers, regions and continents, if this occurs events and decisions taking place on one side of the world have a significant impact on the other (Cochrane and Pain, 2004, page 15). The second of these changes suggests the intensification, or the growing magnitude, which is the increased density of interaction across the globe which implies that the impacts of events are felt more strongly than before (Cochrane and Pain, 2004, page 16).

Thirdly comes the growing extensity and intensity of global interconnectedness can be linked to a speeding up of global interactions and processes, as the evolution of world-wide systems of transport and communication increases the velocity of the diffusion of ideas, goods, information, capital, and people. Then lastly, involves the growing extensity, intensity and velocity of global interactions can be associated with their deepening impact such that the effects of distant events can be highly significant elsewhere and even the most local developments may come to have enormous global consequences. In this sense, the boundaries between domestic matters and global affairs can become increasingly blurred (Cochrane and Pain, 2004, page 21)

Economic globalisation in particular marks a decisive shift from a world economy to a global economy with a world economy characterised by national markets linked together by international trade with nation-states umpiring the boundaries between a world of different national economies. In contrast, the new global economy has allowed increasingly transnationally based resources to reorganise production relations that supersede national economies and national states with national systems of production becoming fragmented and integrated into a new global configuration. Many of the activities that previously involved face-to-face interaction, or that were local, are now conducted across great distances. There has been a significant de-localisation in social and economic exchanges. Activities and relationships have been uprooted from local origins and cultures. Increasingly people have to deal with distant systems in order that they may live their lives.

Banking and retailing is a good example of this, these institutions have adopted new technologies that involve people in less face-to-face interaction. Your contact at the bank is in a call centre many miles away; when you buy goods on the internet the only person you might speak to is the delivery driver. When we buy books from an internet supplier like Amazon our communications pass through a large number of computers and routers and may well travel thousands of miles; the computers taking our orders can be on a different continent; and the books can be located anywhere in the world. This new level of in habitance can allow us to develop a rather different sense of place and of the community to which we belong. It is not just individuals and neighbourhood associations that have felt the impact of de-localisation.

A major difficulty of this process has been a decline in the power of national governments to direct and influence their economies. Shifts in economic activity in, Japan or the United States, are felt in countries all over the globe. The internationalisation of financial markets, of technology and of some manufacturing and services bring with them a new set of limitations upon the freedom of action of nation states. In addition, the emergence of institutions such as the World Bank become an influential defence for northern countries to impose things such as free trade and this then involves new constraints and imperatives (Kelly and Prokhovnik, 2004, page 111). Yet while the influence of nation states may have shrunk as part of the process of globalization it has not disappeared. Productivity and competitiveness can be described as a function of knowledge generation and information processing. This has involved a major shift and entails a different way of thinking about economies.

For countries in the front line of the world economy, the balance between knowledge and resources has shifted so far towards the former that knowledge has become perhaps the most important factor determining the standard of living, even more than land, tools, or labour. Today’s most technologically advanced economies are truly knowledge-based. The power, authority and operations of national government are, accordingly, altering, but not all in one direction. The power of states to rule within their sovereignty may on the edge of collapse, although the practical nature of this power is changing its shape. A new system of government and governance is emerging which is displacing traditional conceptions of state power as an indivisible, territorially exclusive form of public power. Far from globalization leading to the end of the state, it is stimulating a range of government and governance strategies and, in some fundamental respects, a more activist state.

These new developments give very significant questions for democracy since the enlarging scale on which political and economic power is exercised frequently escapes effective mechanisms of democratic control. Democracy remains rooted in a fixed protective conception of political society. Yet globalization interrupts this neat correspondence between national territory, sovereignty, political space and the democratic political community; it enables power to flow across, around and over territorial boundaries.

Globalization therefore generates new political tasks such as social justice, equality, and liberty into a coherent political project which is robust enough to confront a world in which power is exercised on a transnational scale. This involves reconstructing the principles which support the democratic political community and citizenship for an epoch marked by transboundary politics and overlapping communities of fate. Therefore it may well be inaccurate to suggest that globalization is narrowing or foreclosing political options and discussion but instead it may well be responsible for adding strength to the contemporary political environment.

References

Held, D. (2004) Introduction in Held, D. (ed) A Globalizing World? Culture, Economics, Politics, London, Routledge/ The Open University.

Kelly, B and Prokhovnik, R (2004) Economic globalization? in Held, D. (ed) A Globalizing World? Culture, Economics, Politics, London, Routledge/ The Open University.

Cochrane, A. and Pain, K (2004) A globalizing society in Held, D. (ed) A Globalizing World? Culture, Economics, Politics, London, Routledge/ The Open University.

Word count excluding all references: 1306

For the completion of this TMA the skills I feel I got to grips with the best were the note taking and the re-presenting of the course material.

The materials were all very helpful I think I have benefited from the workbooks during this TMA more so than in previous work. However I feel I may have struggled slightly with the amount of material there was for the subject and therefore getting the relevance correct and this may be an area that some help would benefit me.

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