Is globalization harmful?
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Globalization: the Question of Ambivalence
The dawn of 21st century bombarded the whole world with various manifestations of the internationalization and amalgamation of the traditional and the contemporary means of living. The global community emerges as an intertwined sole mechanism that works out into one whole governing system. For the past decades, development is apparent. And the dynamic movement of such changes in areas of living affected every segment of the previously simple ways we have.
Globalization is a topic long overdue. It has been a subject of various empirical professional and scholastic researches and probing. The effects of this global phenomenon are no longer imperceptible. In fact, almost all aspects of every society worldwide can sense the effects – mild or severe in nature. Most advocates of globalization believe that this process is the missing link towards the rapid global progression. But on the contrary, anti-globalization movements say otherwise. With the several views of globalization, the debate over its validity as a helpful or destructive phenomenon is still ambivalent. Given certain situation and with its various applications, is globalization harmful?
This paper delves into the query: is globalization harmful? Or can be the development of global economy benefiting to the general good? Specifically, the discussion is focused on the societal/communal aspects. Examples that are based in China and Hong Kong environment will be provided to further illustrate analysis and sound judgment.
What is Globalization?
Globalization is currently the catchphrase for the perils and promises facing humanity in the 21st century (1999;2000; 2000; 2000). As stated before, globalization is a social change i.e. an increase in connections among societies and their elements due to, among others, the explosive evolution of transport and communication technologies. Various definitions were provided. A comprehensive definition is provided by (2003);
“Globalization is generally understood as economic, political, and social integration of states and societies, both horizontally and vertically, in tighter webs of interdependence. Globalization is a process and not a qualitatively different end state, where politics and the state have become superfluous and the market has taken over. Horizontal and vertical integration of states in the global economy is currently taking place through at least two major visible and measurable processes-the rapid spread of foreign capital, trade, and the spread of the ideas of political democracy and market principles to an extent never before witnessed in modern history.”
Moreover, globalization is evidently everywhere. (2003) stated that globalization has invaded our consciousness in many forms. What they mean is that we see it everywhere. Prominent magazines like the or the almost mention it every issue (1998) and political leaders almost mention it all the time, particularly its advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, economists see it in terms of highly integrated global markets and increasing interdependence between previously autonomous domestic economies ( 2003). On the other hand, mass media researchers see it in the technological innovations of communications media that have enabled people to penetrate and communicate with even the most remote corners of the world (2003).
Furthermore, globalization is an interdisciplinary concept used to mark the site of struggles between local and global economies and experiences given the contemporary transnationalization of capital, communication, and culture. In a globalized world, fragmentation walks hand in hand with homogenization. To many people all around the world, globalization has become synonymous to Americanization. In fact, a simpler definition of globalization states that it is the creation of a New World economic system (the American one). (2001) flatly used the term "McDonaldization" of the world as a synonym for globalization.
Globalization has basically collected a series of appraisals and criticisms from professionals in different fields. However, the most widely debated issue is the debate on whether globalization is being used as a weapon of advertisement to dominate the weaker culture. For years, America’s aggressive advertisements have been criticized dictating the trend and behavior of its recipients.(1993) predicted years ago the convergence of consumer tastes all over the globe, thus creating global markets for standardized products on a previously unimagined scale. This prediction gave the way for the recognition of the globalization of advertising on a larger scale. As (1993) said: “Prompted largely by (1993) provocative paper, the past ten years have been witness to a lively debate - in both academic and corporate circles - concerning global advertising.”
According to (1996), it is widely asserted that we live in an era in which the greater part of social life is determined by global processes, in which national cultures, national economies and national borders are dissolving. Products, services and culture of individual countries can now be promoted globally with ease, thanks to technological advancements. Also, companies and agencies have expanded geographically all over the globe. As a result, there was a need for the internationalization of consumer culture. This need was answered through advertising, since its role rotates between production and consumption. Advertising agencies, thus, played an important role in the globalization phenomenon-they formed the geographic boundaries of markets and paved the way for the internationalization of culture. (1995). However, globalization became a suspect to many people and nations all over the globe. Globalization was seen by pessimists as the “homogenization” of the world with American culture. Basically, the question frequently asked by many-from scholars to politicians to economists to activists to journalists-is the oneness of globalization and Americanization.
Pro- and Anti-globalization: the Ambivalence of Globalization
Anti-globalization is a political stance of opposition to the negative aspects of globalization. Though the mechanisms of globalization abuse are often poorly understood in the western world (e.g. Ford Foundation), the popularity of this stance grew in the late twentieth century mainly due to emotional calls to combat corporate imperialism and the conquest of third world nations. Alternate terms include anti-corporatization, altermondialism or alterglobalization. The stance is generally in line with human rights NGO's, socialist, public interest, anti-corporate and anti-imperialist.
Moreover, anti-globalizationists are generally marginalized by a process of identifying them as anti-business in the news media; most organizations and individuals identified as such are actually globalization-critical instead. The anti-globalization movement is a largely grassroots effort to counter the perceived negative aspects of the current process of globalization. Although adherents of the movement often work in concert, the movement itself is heterogeneous and includes diverse, sometimes opposing, understandings of this process, alternative visions, strategies and tactics. Many of those involved in the movement regard "anti-globalization" as a misnomer. More nuanced terms include anti-capitalist, anti-corporate or alternative globalization. Participants may use the positive terms global justice or fair trade movement, Global Justice and Solidarity Movement (GJ&SM), Movement of Movements or simply The Movement.
According to, some factions of the movement reject globalization as such, but the overwhelming majority of its participants are aligned with movements of indigenous people, human rights NGO's, anarchism, green movements, and to a minor extent communism. Some activists in the movement have objected not to capitalism or international markets as such but rather to what they claim is the non-transparent and undemocratic mechanisms; and the negative consequences of unregulated globalization. They are particularly disparate to "globalization abuse" being misrepresented as neoliberalism, and international institutions that are perceived to promote neoliberalism without regard to ethical standards, such as the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and "free trade" treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) (http://usapedia.com/a/anti-globalization-movement-1.html).
Activists often also oppose business alliances like the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Trans Atlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) and the Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC), as well as the governments which promote such agreements or institutions. Still others argue that, if borders are opened to capital, borders should be similarly opened to allow free and legal circulation and choice of residence for migrants and refugees. These activists tend to target organisms such as the International Organization for Migration and the Schengen Information System. It is also worth noting that many nationalist movements, such as the French National Front are also against globalization. They are usually not considered part of the 'mainstream' anti-globalization movement, which tends to adopt left-wing approaches ()
On the other hand, the anti-globalization movement has been heavily criticized on many fronts by politicians, members of right-wing thinktanks, mainstream economists, and other supporters of free trade policies. Participants in the movement dismiss these criticisms as carping from a tiny minority who can express their opinions via what they call the corporate media. They claim that the criticisms themselves are self-serving and unrepresentative of informed popular opinion.
One of the most fundamental criticisms of the movement is simply that it lacks coherent goals, and that the views of different protesters are fundamentally contradictory. A survey that was made recently during such a protest has shown that at least 40% of the people protesting could not define the meaning of the word globalization nor list actual reasons against what they are protesting.
For instance, it is argued (as a constant editorial line by The Economist), that one of the major causes of poverty amongst third-world farmers are the trade barriers put up by rich nations. The WTO is an organization set up to work towards removing those trade barriers. Therefore, it is argued that people really concerned about the plight of the third world should actually be encouraging free trade, rather than attempting to fight it. Further in this vein, it is argued that the protester's opposition to free trade is really aimed at protecting the interests of Western labor (whose wages and conditions are protected by trade barriers) rather than the interests of the developing world, despite the proclaimed goals of the movement in favor of solidarity and cooperation, not competition, between ordinary farmers and workers everywhere. Anti-globalization activists counter that free trade policies create an environment for workers similar to the Prisoner's dilemma, in which workers in different countries are tempted to "defect" by undercutting standards on wages and work conditions, and reject this argument in favor of a strategy of cooperation for mutual benefit.
Another criticism is that, although the movement protests about things that are widely recognized as serious problems (human rights violations, genocide, global warming), it rarely proposes detailed solutions, and those solutions that have been advocated are often what some people regard as failed variants of socialism, e.g. the debate between (). Proponents of the movement point to the existence of web resources like the Philadelphia IMC alternatives site () and the annual World Social Fora where numerous solutions are proposed and debated and empirical data on social experiments are exchanged. However, supporters of the movement, such as , have discussed this current weakness stating that at a forum discussing "life after capitalism" he was "...as unconvinced by my own answers as I was by everyone else's" ().
Some have criticized its claim to be non-violent. Aside from the indisputably violent tactics by a minority of protesters (possibly aggravated by the police), some see a blockade of an event as in and of itself a violent action (although many protesters would counter that blockades are a time-honored technique of civil disobedience, and that for alleged war criminals to hold a meeting to plan further crimes is itself a violent act). Finally, the motivations of the organizers of the protests are often questioned. Some believe that the key organizers are really Trotskyite, who are simply using whatever grievances they can find to enlarge their protests with the aim of provoking violent revolution. The counterargument to this is that the movement has a very horizontal power structure, so that the power of any key organizers is limited, and that the communications structures in rich countries make it totally unrealistic for violent revolution to occur there, since the vast majority of ordinary people reject violence once they have sufficient evidence of it.
We often meet features of Americanization or globalization in our life. The US has great influence on world’s culture, on its customs, values, and people. Some people want to look like Americans and they try to do what Americans do, wear what Americans wear, and try to live how Americans live. They believe that having acquired American lifestyle means they have an advantage over those who are not Americanized. Although they do not learn the language, they inherit the American customs and holidays, style of their life, their traditions.
American fashions are distributed internationally but are not made for international markets like Hong Kong or China: they are made for the US market, by, for, and about Americans. Thus, one can conclude, to enjoy these easily accessible products one must be or become American and the more one consumes, the more one becomes American, thereby enabling increasing pleasure and ease in this consumption. Americanization is a case in point of a basic process of acculturation. It results in sounding the alarms of cultural imperialism and cultural alienation: one becomes what he/she consumes, because in order to consume he/she must become the targeted consumer. This is the equivalent of saying: because Science is a product of Western European civilization, then to become a scientist one must become westernized, i.e. adopt Western mores, values, and ways of thinking.
Furthermore, the process of globalization is commonly recognized to be characteristic of contemporary international developments. Contemporary processes of globalization have several dimensions or faces: technological, cultural, religious, economic and political. None of these is in itself good or bad. All should be understood as ambiguous, with potential for good and evil, but in the current phase of globalization it is important to distinguish the different faces of globalization and identify with a potential to pursue the good. Globalization implies two distinct phenomena. First, it suggests that political, economic and social activity is becoming worldwide in scope. Secondly, it suggests that there has been an intensification of levels of interaction and interconnectedness among the states and societies (1991). Among these relations are those created by the progressive emergence of a global economy, the expansion of transnational links which generate new forms of collective decision-making, the development of intergovernmental and quasi-supranational institutions, etc. (1990 ). Thus, consequences of globalization are controversial and not necessarily positive.
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