What is Globalisation?


What is globalisation?

Globalisation is a process of inter-connection where the world and its institutions are linked up leading to the creation of one world - a globalised society. 

Our world is linked up and my world is connected to the worlds of people in diverse places. 

A globalized world is thus an inter-connected world. 

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David Held (British political theorist) tells us that globalization is primarily a process of flows between places.

Held explains that the key global flows are people and money

What enables inter-connection?

  • In the most basic sense, technology enables inter-connection.
  • Today, this can be seen in digital media, which allows individuals to send emails across the world in a matter of seconds. 
  • It is this form of high tech communication technology that enables the global economy to function.
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Origins of Globalisation

Technology has enabled forms of globalization from the very first maps and navigational tools that allowed explorers such as Vasco da Gama to discover new lands. 

But what's new about the contemporary form of globalization we live in today is speed. 

  • Take for example being able to pay for things using contactless card payments. 
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Time-space compression

David Harvey (geographer), in his book, tells us that this kind of inter-connectivity has a particular effect on our perception of the world - it makes the world seem smaller. 

He uses the term 'time-space compression' to describe the ways in which inter-connectivity seems to compress space and time. For example, to travel to LA, it only takes 15 hours; the size of the world seems to collapse. 

Forms of inter-connectivity

  • Global economy - Wall Street, City of London, the Global Stock Exchange
  • A crash in one country will lead to crashes in others which thereby translates into unemployment across the world. 
  • This is because banks, corporations and as a result, individuals have global exposure all economies are connected and they don't exist in isolation.
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Political interdependence

As a result of the economic connectivity, politics is no longer simply a matter for nation states

It matters to us if the government of Saudi Arabia suddenly raises the price of oil or Russia raises the price of gas. 

As a result of this, politics becomes concerned with managing national concerns on a global stage. An example of this could be the American war on terror - the American attempt to destroy terrorist networks, which are themselves globalized forms, was a global attempt to protect the American homeland. 

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Are we living in a global society?

To answer this question, it is easiest to look at a university environment - where there is high potential to meet people from every nation in the world. 

We find the same situation in wider society where the globalized mixing of people is unavoidable today. 

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Zygmunt Bauman

There is a global elite who move around the world in search of profit (what Bauman calls the tourist class) and a global poor (the vagabonds) who move around in search of safety and security.

Global super-rich -> Roman Abramovich

Global Vagabonds - Refugees from Syria

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Politics of Global Society

The flows of people and the creation of global society leads to a new form of politics. 

Consider house price boom in London which is driven by the global super-rich being able to pay over £30 million for a property.

Brands such as Apple, Nike, McDonalds -> large companies, international conglomerates, which transcends the barriers of national language.

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Symbols and Methods

While the brand seems to transcend words and communicate through basic symbols to create a global form of culture, cultural differences also seem intractable. 

Consider the foreignness of the Burqa or Niqab to the white European in the UK or France where it is banned. 

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raises complex questions around security

Q: When is a person a member of a particular society? 

A: Once they have grown to understand and become accustomed to the norms and values of the society/ subculture itself

Q: How far do individuals have to conform to the society's norms, especially in instances where that society is concerned with liberal freedom and tolerance of difference? 

These questions are produced by processes of globalisation which create issues of proximity - we have to try to live together. 

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By the 19th century, processes of globalisation were modern and individualised and Britain and other European countries had more or less colonised the planet in the name of empire (imperialism) 

However, it is debatable how far this model of globalisation created a unified, globalised world. 

It is possible to argue that the ultimate form of globalisation which we live with today was only actually realised by America in the WW2 period, specifically after the Cold War (the state of geographical tension after WW2). 

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Global Discontents

all global models come with their own unavoidable discontent...

  • economic division caused by free market capitalism
  • political disenchantment caused by the attachment to the models which preludes finding workable solutions outside of a narrow list of options.
  • social anomie (Durkheim) and alienation (Marx) caused by individualism
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9/11 exposed the vulnerability of American power

Apart from shaking up American power, 9/11 also destabilised processes of globalisation

Breach of security - security means that the fantasy of unfettered connectivity is no longer possible - the world is now seen as a risky, dangerous place characterised by fear of other people, pandemics and destructive accidents

Can also mention the fact that there are terrorist attacks all over the world.

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The Global Accident

2008 global economic crash - the collapse was the crisis form of globalisation

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This is where we are now - dependant on circumstances beyond one's control

The world is now a precarious place and the dream of global connectivity where we are absolutely free seems like  a distant memory

We are living in the end times of global capitalism - this model no longer works and we need to invent a new form of global society. 

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Why do we need a new globalisation?

We need a new kind of globalisation because the current system doesn't work for the majority 

The problem is that the collapse of the banks was passed onto the majority who must suffer under austerity

Good examples include: Student protests, London 2010, London Riots 2011, Brexit and Donald Trump

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