Is Globalization a Good Thing? Discuss with Reference to Either Culture, Economics or Politics.

Globalization is a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology. This process has effects on the environment, on culture, on political systems, on economic development and prosperity, and on human physical well-being in societies around the world. In this essay I will use culture as reference to discuss the above question.

I will look at the Globalists ( positive and the pessimistic globalists ), Inter-nationalists and the Transformationalists view points of how globalization affects our culture. The term globalization is often used in the sense to refer to the growing integration of societies across the world. It can be seen as a process by the world is to be transformed into a single global system. As a consequence of globalization, distant occurrences and developments can come to have serious domestic impacts. In another words globalization represents a significant shift in a spatial reach of social action and organization towards international scale.

In order to understand globalization we will begin by assessing the Globalist account, globalists argues that the growth in global culture shows a decline in national culture. [The positive globalist focus on the progress of possibilities in a “global village” on the other hand the pessimistic globalist focus rather on the democratic nature of the free market and the benefits of greater choice for the consumer]. Optimists suggest that globalization offers an improved quality of life, living standards and a chance to bring people together through improved connectivity throughout the world.

The Internet is one medium through which many theorists see stretched [tretched social relations] and opportunities for sharing of cultures and understanding between different nations making us all ‘world citizens’ thanks to new technologies the physical place no longer gets in the way when creating a community. Marshall McLuhan (date) , a media theorist has developed the “global village” in the 1960’s, he refers to the transferring of culture and the developing of communities across physical boundaries.

The basic precepts of his view are that the rapidity of communication through electric media echoes the speed of the senses. Through media such as the telephone, television and more recently the personal computer and the ‘Internet’, we are increasingly linked together across the globe and this has enabled us to connect with people at the other side of the world as quickly as it takes us to contact and converse with those who inhabit the same physical space (i. e. the people that live in the same village).

We can now hear and see events that take place thousands of miles away in a matter of seconds, often quicker than we hear of events in our own villages or even families, and McLuhan argues that it is the speed of these electronic media that allow us to act and react to global issues at the same speed as normal face to face verbal communication. Pessimistic globalists regard globalization with hostility, believing that it increases inequality between nations, threatens employment and hinders social progress.

They argue that the inequality is caused by the growth of ownership and the use of communication technologies [more so on domestic level](? ) . Inequality shows a bigger gap between the “information rich” and the “information poor” groups. Moreover they believe that the  giant multi-national companies (usually American) stand to benefit since the US has a dominant economic, cultural and military position in the global scheme of things. Their ownership of the media leads to controlling of distribution with profound consequences for other media forms.

The growth in advertising financial services and audio maximization results in a range of poorer quality programming. Global media and cultural corporations have become an important part of the global economy. The pessimists believe that globalization is making the world become more homogeneous (yes) with the demise of sovereignty and national identities as well as the demise of politicians’ capabilities to influence events. Cultural flows are seen as imbalanced where dominant cultures e. g. US culture overpowers more vulnerable cultures e. g. Russian culture.

An example of Cultural Imperialism is the structure of world news. The five major western news agencies are responsible for producing 80% of world news and only a quarter of all world news focuses on the developing world. Therefore the dominant culture is focussed on and given precedence over the weaker. One argument, which could be raised to this Pessimistic view, is that Western countries are the highest consumers of news and media in general and perhaps the ratio of television receivers may also be a lot higher in developed countries as opposed to developing countries, in which case the supply reflects the demand.

It is not just the import and export of products that plays a part in cultural imperialism but also language. English is seen as the “language of advantage” (Collins, 1990, p211) and is the communicative language between global organizations. This evidence supports the notion that the globalization of culture is not the emergeneeemergence of growth of a global culture but a spreading in English language of US and Western cultural goods and practices. Inter-nationalists focus on the continuities for local, national, cultures, but also accept some changes have taken place.

According to the inter-nationalists all the talk about globalization is exactly that – just talk. In particular, they argue, the passage of goods and capital across national boundaries has happened for centuries, bringing with it the spread of different cultures and knowledge. Internationalist avidly argue against the pessimist view of cultural imperialism, suggesting that although mass media is controlled by a limited group, both perpetuating and mediating predominantly white male capital views.

However, studies show that globally broadcast material which is domestically produced is twenty nine time greater in volume than that which cross national borders ( O’Regan 1992; Sinclair et al. , 1996). Colin Sparks, a media theorist concludes the evidence of media globalization is weak. The quantity of global media readers/watchers are small in numbers and very rich and well educated. The third argument is that of the Transformationalists, a combination of Globalist and Internationalist positions. They believe that something is happening, that changes are taking place and that the effects of globalisation should not be underestimated.

Transformationalist like Giddens (ref) sees globalisation in a wider context than global economics alone. It is to their understanding that Globalization is a central driving force behind the rapid social, political and economic changes that are reshaping modern societies and world order. A strength of the transformationalist is that they see sovereignty as having to be shared among other private and public agencies. They would probably sit on the fence as to whether people, organizations or states stand to benefit from globalization.

Transformationalist is perhaps the strongest critic of the Cultural Imperialism theory. The anthropologist Daniel Miller (ref) conducted a study in Trinidad, which found that international programmes were ‘localized’ incorporating local concept and culture (Miller, 1997, P29). Therefore in agreement with the Transformalists, this study rejects the cultural imperialism theory. In contrast the study suggests that when foreign culture is imposed, it raises awareness of local and national culture rather than to obliterate it in a process of homogenization.

A weakness of the transformationalist would be that they are somewhat blinded by the scale of global inequalities that are developing as a result of rationalisation as they tend to have more of a “regional” focus. In conclusion the internationalist and transformationalist theories of globalisation seem realistic, whereas the globalist theory is seemingly radical. And in reflection to the significance of national culture, it is indeed extremely important to preserve national cultures, particular in the current political climate.

Globalisation is political, technological, cultural and economic, it affects everyone and its effects can be seen everywhere. Globalization is not something that should be shrinked (? ) but the challenges it presents need to be controlled because it is now part of the way we live and it’s not going to go away. Metaphorically speaking it may mean a shrinking world but it is creating something that has never existed before and it is without doubt changing our world, for better or worse, no matter where or whom we happen to be.

It is an undeniable fact that globalization has provided networks of communication and interaction between different cultures of the world. Nonetheless, the great accomplishments of this information age, which shortened time, distances and shrank the world, should not be employed to determine the guidelines of any civilisation or reshape national culture. Word count : 1414 Reference : Kath Woodward The Open University (2004) DD100 An introduction to the Social Sciences: Understanding Social Change Questioning Identity: Gender, Class, Ethnicity, Milton Keynes.

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