With the growing trends towards the global community, it is becoming more and more necessary for us to find the balance between the global and the local. It would seem that all you need to look at in order to see what the current trends and drives are in a society, is their advertising. Catch slogans like, ‘Help your small business take its place in the global economy, use brand X’, are all indicators that we are headed towards the ‘globalisation of the globe’. Globalisation is not something that is fixed and secure.
The questions, the definition and the operations in practise all have many questions surrounding them and they each have many dimensions. Questions such as, ‘has uncertainty and diversity been growing? ‘ ‘Are we finding ourselves in a society that is more uncertain and diverse? ‘ ‘ Is this bringing more risk to society? ‘ There are many factors that have influenced us and many areas of life and society that uncertainty and diversity link to. Globalisation represents change and change is the one thing that will create uncertainty and diversity.
However, many would ask if uncertainty and diversity has been increased. Have we really moved on from the ‘Golden Age’ to more uncertainty and diversity? Until recent years, even though we were all part of the collective of the planet earth, we were essentially locally driven. Things that happened on the other side of the planet really didn’t make all that much of a difference in our own part of the country. Now however, with the advent of the ‘international’ news networks, and the ever more interconnectedness of our societies, the intensity of stretched social relations is apparent.
If the Tokyo stock exchange has a bad day, you can expect that there will be trouble in the business sectors of London. In the age of corporate downsizing, companies are doing anything but, and they are leaner, meaner, and bigger. Globalisation is a process that affects all aspects of all of our lives whether it is cultural, economical or political. However, evidence has shown that the consequences of some global decisions are felt more strongly in some places than in others. For instance, although trade in waste is global, the impact of pollution and the siting of waste dumps are local and this could reflect unequal power relations.
Whilst assessing the strengths and weaknesses of these perspectives, there are three approaches to consider – Globalists, Traditionalists and Transformationalists. In this essay, I shall attempt to address the view of the Traditionalist with regards to economic globalisation. Globalists believe that globalisation is a real and solid occurrence – an inevitable development that cannot be influenced by human intervention. The Transformationalists reject this view and whilst they believe that globalisation represents a significant shift, they question the inevitability of its impacts.
Traditionalists however are sceptical about globalisation and they argue that the significance has been exaggerated. In order to argue their viewpoint, traditionalists have looked at four key international economic indicators and I have illustrated two of those points below. The first of these are ‘television households’. According to Globalists, the number of television receivers per 1000 inhabitants in the world increased more than four fold between 1965 – 1996. Whilst there has been a dramatic increase in the ownership of televisions, household-viewing figures would suggest that the impact might be considerably less than this data implies.
Traditionalists would point out that household viewing in the UK is not predominantly global with viewing figures for MTV and Disney being only respectively 0. 2% and 0. 3%. Compared with these miniscule audiences for global television, the top 40 programmes viewed in the UK are domestically produced – the BBC providing 44% of this viewing. So although what Globalists have said about the increase in television ownership is true, it would seem they have failed to acknowledge that the audiences have tuned in to ‘home grown’ channels and programmes.
Due to increased satellite links, newsgathering has clearly become globalised. This rise in satellite communication has given us unprecedented access to news and events as and when they happen. For instance, we were able to view around the clock coverage of the recent events in Iraq. Transformationalists would see this increased activity as a natural progress due to ‘increased’ communication systems. However, although the Traditionalists acknowledge there has been increased activity, the majority of news in the UK is produced in the UK.
The combined daily reach of ITV and BBC prime time news is greater than the monthly reach of CNN throughout Europe. This therefore seems to confirm their belief in the continuing significance of locally driven news. Whilst from these two examples of mass media communication we can see that some things are changing, can it be attributed to ‘globalisation’, or as the Traditionalists point out, is it just a continuing process? It is quite obvious that we have seen an increase in the global flows of trade and money around the world, but is it fair to say that this is due to globalisation?
After all, the exchange of goods and cultures has been around since the beginning of civilisation, and Traditionalists argue that the socio-economic interactions of today vary little from those exhibited within early trading cultures. According to the Traditionalists, what we are witnessing is simply a continuation and progression of earlier world trading links. It could be said that this integration of economies that we are seeing could be due to the increase in communication links and transportation.
These factors facilitate the international expansion that was impossible in earlier trade, giving the impression that economic and trade flow has increased. In fact, this international expansion and integration has only resulted in increased awareness of trade and industry, not a significant increase in trade itself. However, there is a danger that as a result of this global business, we will see a rise in global inequality. As the Traditionalist argues, larger powerful companies such as McDonalds could have too much economic and marketing power to be affected by smaller and weaker outfits.
Pessimistic Globalists would agree with this, although positive Globalists believe there is potential for all to benefit from an improved quality of life. Even though it is a necessary step to take, exploring the evidence for globalisation is difficult and controversial. Nevertheless, in order to assess the different perspectives on globalisation, we need to look at the evidence. Examples of global pollution and international trade suggest the connections and impact such things have on social and economic relations that are stretched across space – although Internet usage is internationally patchy, thus creating an area of doubt.
The intensification of growth in international information and the rapid increase of satellite and other communication links indicate the world is becoming globalised. However, there are many people, even in the ‘developed’ world that are not directly involved in this and it is important to assess the flows of trade and investment and whether or not they stretch across the globe or remain limited to a small number of countries. The global role of companies such as Microsoft and McDonalds show us there is an interpenetration of distant cultures and societies.
Most of us can walk down our local high street and sample an array of different food from many different cultures. But can examples such as this be termed ‘globalisation’ and do they seriously affect people’s lives? It could be that they are just added on to traditional routine. Due to the role of new technology and information, the relevance and effectiveness of old state controls (infrastructure) are now under question. However, an area of doubt that covers this evidence is whether or not the states could regain control should they wish to.
The idea that the term globalisation is sufficient enough to describe the world in which we live is a dominant one, and it seems to be the driving force behind the way the international economy is organised. Globalisation has benefits and costs, and these are very unevenly distributed across the world. With more than a billion people living below a dollar a day and half the world living on less than two dollars, it’s hard to argue that the current pattern of globalisation is working well for the world’s poor (cited in the Guardian).
The world is becoming increasingly inundated with television and programming flows and by using satellite and cable systems this is enabling global media corporations to impose on national broadcasting regimes. Traditionalists believe that activities such as these are a continuing process and not a new phenomenon, as the Globalists would have us believe. Traditionalists take a sceptical view of the claims of Globalists and whilst they accept there has been a growth in the degree and extent of international economic interdependency and integration, they believe that separate national economies remain a salient category.
The focus of a Traditionalist argument is on the role of national economies as agents in the international economic system – the structure within which those agents exist. This view believes that structure does not dominate agency as the Globalists and Transformationalists would suggest. Economic globalisation involves two main features: increasing interdependency and increasing integration and this definition suggests that globalisation is not a new phenomenon but something that has been going on for quite some time.