Globalisation is a topic that is debated heavily and argued from many angles. The idea for globalisation is many different businesses, markets and cultures throughout the world being able to communicate and integrate. Individuals however are still recognised as such, there is no set uniform for the entire world in any sector. Within the discussion are two important groups; sceptics and transformationalist both offer a different opinion on whether or not globalisation has started or already in the middle of occurring.
I will first outline the arguments made by each group and go onto evaluate these points in greater detail. I shall begin with the sceptics who believe that globalisation is a myth. Sceptics feel that the idea of globalisation is false; it is instead Europe, America and Asia dominating what actually happens in the world.
The world economy is growing, yet not very quickly. Sceptics base much of the argument on the failings of a worldwide economy, therefore the failing of globalisation. Going on European and North American Statistics, ‘21% of merchandise was exported in 1913, and only 24% was exported in 1987’1. This shows that even with new technologies and wider markets through so-called globalisation, exports have only marginally increased over a 74-year period. If globalisation had really taken hold of the world, then surely exports should have been a little higher?
TNCs are also criticised by the sceptics for dominating the world economy ‘and that they trade and invest heavily mainly between themselves’ (Sklair, 2002, p38). This shows that TNC have little interest in what they do or where they do it as long as they have the ability to make lots of money.
There is also the point that globalisation may have a negative effect upon cultures around the world. For example, ‘It can cause redistribution of income in favour of the rich…those who are intellectually advantaged….’ (Ricciardelli, Modigliani, 2003, p20)2. If this is a possibility of globalisation then it is important that regulation by governments is implemented. It is also important for globalisation that the economy is integrated, but this is evidently not the case, therefore the sceptics view can be taken seriously.
Cultural integration of many different countries is also seen as huge problem to the idea of globalisation. It is possible to look at markets on a global scale, but it is impossible to try and manage and view the hundreds of different cultures that exist throughout the world.
A transformationalist offers a different opinion on the issue altogether. They say that globalisation is the driving force for a new economy that isn’t effect by boundaries between countries. It is also offering a new chance to push back physical boundaries between countries. This can be seen with the creation of the EU making it easier for people to move around Europe. The ‘intergovernmental co-operation…has increased the power and impact of states…in relation to both individuals and corporations’ (Meyer, 1999, p101), as seen when the EU intervenes to protect environmental issues, setting quotas on how much fishing can take place in the North Sea for example.
Refugees flooding into European countries are also causing global concern, and forced the UN to create measures that ensured their safety, ‘the 1967 New York Protocol…with respect to refugee protection’ (Meyer, 1999, p104) is a sign of global governance that is aiming to help minority groups. The possibilities to travel around the world are also becoming cheaper and more available as airports increase capacity, thus helping to break barriers between cultures around the world.
The introduction of the Internet has brought people and business closer together with huge investments in to e-commerce. This has helped companies to reduce costs and increase their profits.
The rise in TNCs, as mentioned earlier by sceptics, was explained as a bad thing, that these companies only invested between each other. However this isn’t the case in question. Whether or not globalisation is myth is what we are interested in, and the fact that there are TNCs shows that there is trade taking place between companies that have left there original countries. TNCs show that global markets are active. Many also say that the nation-state is failing to control the rise in TNCs and the control that they have in many places, ‘Globalization is that it is gradually escaping the control and the laws of nation-states’ (Ricciardelli, Woot, 2003, p123). If this is the case then the nation-state must restructure in order to keep a close eye on what these companies are doing.
Globalization may have taken the business world by storm, but socially and politically it has failed to penetrate very deeply. This has left many countries struggling to catch up, leaving the all-powerful American, European and Asian countries to thrive.
From both sides of the argument it is clear that it is difficult to accesses which of the two points of view are accurate. I believe that it is impossible to look at globalisation as a cultural change as of yet as it will be near impossible to govern so many different cultures under a global body, ‘Globalization and culture do not seem to mix’ (Ricciardelli, Nanopoulos, 2003 p211). Language barriers and cultural identity will never be reduced to a basic global governing body. People are proud of their heritage and will never see it lost to global communities. Smaller countries, for example less economically developed countries in Africa have very little say in what goes on in the world even now. Surely globalisation should give them a louder voice if it has actually happened. It will take time before governments realise that smaller countries must be recognised and not exploited by large TNCs
However I do feel that globalisation in the economy is very apparent wherever we look now. The Internet has created a whole new business environment that has to be exploited by industries to help improve their business. However regulation by governments is a definite requirement as large companies will dominate markets and remove all competition from smaller firms.
Countries cannot hide behind their boundaries and hope that globalisation will pass them by, as this is impossible. The divergence of cultures is inevitable as more and more people find out about the world around them.
Organisations such as the UN, EU and NATO are all examples of political globalisation as they attempt to work together to improve relations. The World Health Organisation is a good example of people working for everyone including the poorest countries on the planet, which are often forgotten about by the larger countries. Attempts to reduce pollution around the world, for example the Kyoto agreement also shows consideration globally, even though the worlds top pollutant, America, pulled out.
Overall I believe that globalisation is just a term for integration into a large body from all parts of the world, something that has been happening for a very long time. Economically globalisation is definitely occurring as more countries branch out to other parts of the world. Communications via the Internet and satellites have helped to bring economies closer together enabling greater commerce.
However, cultural globalisation is far from happening. Integration of societies will never occur. Yet more and more people are taking interest in different cultures as the world opens up more and more.
It is then clear that I am neither sceptic nor transformationalist and that globalisation is no myth in the economic sector. But culturally, globalisation is instead a term for cultures opening up to each other more and more.