What is globalisation?

  • Globalization can be divided into 3 categories; political, economic, and cultural.
  • Economic globalization can be reflected in the idea that all economies are globally interconnected. “A shift from a world of distinct national economies to a global economy in which production is internationalized and financial capital flows freely and instantly between countries” (OECD)
  • Political globalization is evident in the growing importance of international organisations. These organisations are transnational and enable states to take concerted action without sacrificing national sovereignty.
  • Cultural globalisation is the process whereby information, commodities and images produced in one part of the world enter into a global flow that ‘flattens out’ cultural differences (sometimes portrayed as McDonaldization)
  • As a general term which applies to all 3 categories, globalization is a "complex web of interconnectedness" that means our lives are influenced by events and decisions made far away from us.
  • Geographical distance and territorial boundaries are hence of declining significance.
  • However globalization doesn't mean that local or national events are subordinate to global events, but rather that events on different levels constantly interact.

How does globalisation affect international politics? Are the effects of globalisation positive or negative?

  • Globalization has many positive effects on both the developed and developing world.
  • Supporters of the movement, globalists, claim that countries to which globalization has not appeared to be beneficial have simply failed to embrace the concept. Countries like India and China are the best recent examples. Until the 1980s these countries had relatively closed trade policy regimes, but when they opened up their economies they achieved accelerated growth.
  • This demonstrates well the second argument also that economies that are open to free trade, grow faster. This is because free trade allows countries to specialize in what they do best rather than produce everything on their own. This benefits not only developing countries but developed ones as well. For example, the free market allows the USA to specialize in services, which as a result accounts for 80% of the USA's total output.
  • Globalists also argue that globalization improves developing countries' legal, financial and political systems. The argument goes that globalization is a major factor underpinning the trend toward democratization as the pressures released by free market economies can only be contained by democratic and open societies, as international organisations which help regulate the market also help to prevent corruption. For example, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) criminalised bribery by passing the anti-bribery convention. Until this point many countries used bribery to obtain business.
  • As well as encouraging democracy, globalization is argued to promote human rights and better working conditions. When people in MEDCs (More Economically Developed Countries) believe that the people who are making the products are being treated fairly, they are more likely to buy the MNCs (Multinational Corporations) products, and so to attract more capital and avoid boycotts and protests of their products in MEDCs, MNCs improve the working conditions of their factories. For example, in Vietnam and other LEDCs (Less Economically Developed Countries), Nike factories provide better working conditions and pay than local companies, because they are more able to as a MNC.
  • Globalization is claimed to improve standard living conditions, as the increase in trade results in GDP growth. For example, newly industrialized economies, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, which have all been open to trade during the past four decades, have been entirely free of poverty according to the dollar-a-day poverty line. In fact in Malaysia the opening of the economy resulted in the per-capita income rising from $350 to $5000 in just 2 decades.
  • However these countries are known as the Asian Tigers and it must be noted that they did not always follow the ideals of free trade. They first began nurturing their economies through the state before opening them up to the global market.
  • Also the foreign investment, which globalization creates, can be a significant driver of development in poorer countries, like China, India and Mexico, as it brings not only money but technical and managerial expertise.
  • Trade also helps the poor through three important channels; gainful employment, anti-poverty programmes and public services such as education and health.
  • Globalists also claim that globalization has a positive effect on the environment. NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations) and environmental groups lay pressure on developing nations and this can lead to improvements, in areas such as waste disposal and factory emissions. For example in Sao Paulo and Mexico City FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) has increased, creating more factories, yet air pollution levels have fallen.


  • However anti-globalists argue that globalization will lead to more environmental damage instead of less, as countries specialise in certain things, exploiting the land and ultimately destroying it. For example, the rapid expansion of coastal shrimp farming in several countries in Asia and Latin America in the 1980s, driven principally by the demand for exports, led to the contamination of water supplies and destruction of surrounding mangrove forests.
  • The term anti-globalization is allocated as a unified name to the movement by the media. It refers not to the opposition of globalization per se, but the opposition of different aspects of globalization. There is a wide variety of different kinds of "anti-globalization".
  • In general, critics claim that the results of globalization have not been what was predicted when the attempt to increase free trade began, and that many institutions involved in the system of globalization have not taken the interests of poorer nations and the working class into account. This has resulted in a number of negative effects of cultural, political, and economic globalization.
  • Many claim that it is simply a "buzz-word to denote the latest phase of capitalism", whereas others believe that globalization maybe "the latest stage of Western imperialism". The latter claim that the only forces being globalized are those found in the Western World. - However critics of this belief argue that it is thinly veiled anti-westernism. They maintain that such people routinely villainize Coca-cola, Hollywood and Nike, but conveniently forget the globalization of Chinese tea and Japanese manga.
  • A further criticism of globalization is that it leads to cultural homogenization, sometimes referred to by sociologists as 'Coca-Colaisation or McDonaldization. They claim that as a result everyone is losing their national identity, their culture, their individuality.
  • Globalists believe that cultural homogenization isn't happening, because the fear and threat of homogenization provokes cultural and political resistance. Meaning that instead of people losing their cultural and national identity, they are fighting to maintain it and as a result it is growing stronger.
  • Supporters of globalization also argue that even if cultural homogenization is occurring, it is not necessarily a bad thing, as cultural and national differences become less obvious, and so racism decreases.
  • Another allegation made by anti-globalists, mainly by state-centric nationalists, is that globalization is displacing the role of nations. They maintain that nations have a declining capacity to organise political and economic life satisfactorily, resulting in national governments becoming powerless in the face of national trends and subjects to global economic forces. This raises the problem of accountability as many of the emerging powerful actors in the globalized world are unelected NGOs, including seemingly good organizations such as Greenpeace.
  • Anti-globalists argue that globalization has actually undermined democracy in 2 important ways.
  • Firstly, it has concentrated economic power, and hence political power, in the hands of MNCs. It is in the capacity of MNCs to relocate capital and production elsewhere in the world that gives them the advantage over national governments and enables them to escape democratic control.
  • Secondly, democracy is also threatened by the fact that the pace of economic globalization far outstrips that of political globalization. So, whereas economic activity pays little attention to national borders, politics continues to operate largely within them, and the international organizations of governments are too weak to call global capitalism to account.
  • Anti-globalists also argue that although the global economy is strong it is often volatile. Capital flows in and out of countries so freely that it can result in economical problems. For example in 1995 Barings bank collapsed due to one single trader.
  • They also argue that globalization imposes credit-based economics, resulting in unsustainable growth of debt and debt crises.


Original content by joker13na.