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Does Globalisation mean the Decline of the Nation State?

In the early stages of Globalisation (1600 -1950s especially) Nation States were very powerful – Colonialism for example was led by European governments and monarchies and the most serious conflicts tended to be between nation states – culminating in World War 2. However, since then, many globalisation theorists argue that increasing global flows in trade and communications have reduced the relative power of Nation States…..

Evidence for the power of Nation States declining

  • National Governments increasingly face problems that are too big for them to deal with on their own – examples of such global problems include – dealing with these problems increases the need to co-operate and reduces the power of individual nation states environmental problems, international terrorism, drug and people trafficking and the threat of global pandemics.
Are nation states too small to deal with the problem of global warming?
  • The United Nations and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – limits the power of Nations to restrict the freedoms of individuals. Linked to this we have an international court where some dictators have been tried for crimes such as genocide.
  • Global Social Movements such as the green movement and the occupy movement are increasingly interconnected – which are critical of nation states – also part of ‘cultural globalisation’.
  • Some Transnational Corporations are bigger than Nation States – and so wield power over them – BP for example makes £25 billion profit every year and employs thousands of British workers – it is so crucial to the UK economy that the government has little choice but to keep it sweet, and the same is the case with many of our largest banks.
  • The power of United Nations to make any real change in the world is limited. The recent war in Iraq shows that powerful nations will go to war even when the United Nations does not back these wars.

Evidence for Nation States still retaining power

  • The World’s leading Nation States still maintain huge military capacity – the US spends more than $680 billion in 2010 on its military and Britain maintains a standing peace-time army of around 100 000 troops.
Only the richest nation states can afford these
  • Pessimists argue that the World Trade Organisation simply represent the interests of the most powerful nations – namely America.
  • ‘National Identity’ is still important to billions of people – there is a trend to more nation states – as present nations divide.
  • Brexit and the election of Donald Trump also suggest an increase in the number of people wanting to restrict the free-migration of people, no other institution can realistically do this, other than the nation state.
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Barbie and the Development of Global Commodity Chains

One illustration of the global commodity chain can be found in the manufacture of the Barbie doll, the most profitable toy in history. The 50-something teenage doll sells at a rate of 2 per second, bringing the Mattel Corporation, based in Los Angeles, USA, well over a billion dollars in annual revenues. Although the doll sells mainly in the United States, Europe and Japan, Barbie can also be found in 150 countries around the globe: she is truly a global citizen.

Barbie is global not only in sales, but in terms of her birthplace as well. Barbie was never made in the United States. The first doll was made in Japan in 1959, when that country was still recovering from the Second World War and wages were low. As wages in Japan rose, Barbie moved to other low-wage countries in Asia. Her multiple origins today tell us a great deal about the operations of global supply chains.

Barbie is designed in United States, where her marketing and advertising strategies are devised and where most of the profits are made. But the only physical aspect of Barbie that is ‘made in the USA’ is her cardboard packaging, along with some of the paints and oils that are used to decorate the doll.

Barbie’s body parts and wardrobe span the globe in their origins:

  1. Barbie begins her life in Saudi Arabia, where oil is extracted and then refined into ethyne that is used to create her plastic body
  2. Taiwan’s state-owned oil importer, the Chinese Petroleum Corporation, buys the ethylene and sells it to Taiwan’s largest producer of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, which are used in the toys. Formosa plastics coverts the ethylene into the PVC pellets that will be shaped to make Barbie’s body.
  3. The pellets are then shipped to one of the four Asian factories that make Barbie – two in southern China, and one in Indonesia and one in Malaysia. The plastic mould injection machines that shape her body, which are most expensive part of Barbie’s manufacture, are made in the United States and shipped to the factories.
  4. Once Barbie’s body is moulded, she gets her nylon hair from Japan. Her cotton dresses are made in China, with Chinese cotton – the only raw material in Barbie that actually comes from the country where Barbie is made.
  5. Hong Kong plays a key role in the manufacturing process of Barbie – nearly all the material used in her manufacture is shipped into Hong Kong, one of the world’s largest ports – and then trucked to the factories in China. The finished Barbies leave by the same route. Some 23 000 trucks make the daily trip between Hong Kong and southern China’s toy factories.

Out of her retail price, China gets about 4%, mainly in wages paid to the 11 000 peasant women who assemble her, 6.5% covers all of the other aspects of the manufacturing and distribution process, 10% goes back to Matell in profit, and 80% is the mark-up which companies like Toys R Us who sell the product add to the cost.

The case study of Barbie shows us both the effectiveness of globalisation, and the unevenness of the process.

Sources used to write this post.

I took this from Giddens’ ‘Sociology’ (2009) – it may be old, but I liked it as an illustration of globalisation and global commodity chains.

 

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What is Political Globalisation?

‘Until the end of the Second World War, national governments were traditionally responsible for ensuring the welfare of their citizens, however since 1945, more and more governments have become members of International Institutions, such as the United Nations and the European Union, through which they agree to stick to International guidelines on issues such as citizenship and human rights. In this way, global political ideals restrict the freedom of governments to shape domestic social policy. ‘

Anthony Giddens (2009) notes the following features of Political Globalisation

The collapse of Communism in the 1990s meant the end of the divided ‘cold war’ world, and now these ex-communist countries are themselves democracies and integrated into the global economy.

The growth of international and regional mechanisms of government such as the United Nations and European Union – governments of Nation States are increasingly restricted by international directives and laws stemming from these international bodies.

International Non-Governmental organisations such as OXFAM or Greenpeace operate in dozens of countries, and members tend to have an international outlook.

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What is Economic Globalisation?

Economic Globalisation involves the global expansion of international capitalism, free markets and the increase in international trade, a process which has accelerated since the 1950s. Nearly every country on earth now imports and exports more from and to other countries than it did immediately after World War Two, and even ex-communist countries are now part of the global capitalist economy. Britain for example imports around 60% of its food, with only 40% of the food supply being grown in Britain, and if you take a look around any class room, or any living room, and you will probably find that the majority of products were imported from somewhere else.

Some of the key features of economic globalisation include:

The emergence of global Commodity chains – manufacturing is increasingly globalised as there are more worldwide networks extending from the raw material to the final consumer. The least profitable aspects of production – actually making physical products, tend to be done in poorer, peripheral countries, whereas the more profitable aspects, related to branding and marketing, tend to be done in the richer, developed, core countries.

The role of Transnational Corporations (TNCs) is particularly important – these are companies that produce goods in more than one country, and they are oriented to global markets and global products, many are household names such as McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Nike. The biggest TNCs have annual revenues which are greater than the economic output of middle-income countries. Apple, for example, generates more income than Finland does every year, and many oil companies such as Shell and Exxon-Mobile generate revenue several times that of the poorer countries they extract from.

TNC logos

The global economy is Post Industrial – as a result it is increasingly ‘weightless’ (Quah 1999) – products are much more likely to be information based/ electronic, such as computer software, films and music or information services rather than actual tangible, physical goods such as food, clothing or cars.

The electronic economy underpins globalisation – Banks, corporations, fund managers and individuals are able to shift huge funds across boarders instantaneously at the click of a mouse. Transfers of vast amounts of capital can trigger economic crises.

global electronic economy

 

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What is Cultural Globalisation?

‘Cultural globalisation refers to the rapid movement of ideas, attitudes, meanings, values and cultural products across national borders. It refers specifically to idea that there is now a global and common mono-culture – transmitted and reinforced by the internet, popular entertainment transnational marketing of particular brands and international tourism – that transcends local cultural traditions and lifestyles, and that shapes the perceptions, aspirations, tastes and everyday activities of people wherever they may live in the world’

Migration is an important aspect of cultural globalisation, and in this sense, this process has been going on for several centuries, with languages, religious beliefs, and values being spread by military conquest, missionary work, and trade. However, in the last 30 years, the process of cultural globalisation has dramatically intensified due technological advances in both transportation and communications technology.

The globalisation of food is one of the most obvious examples of cultural globalisation – food consumption is an important aspect of culture and most societies around the world have diets that are unique to them, however the cultural globalisation of food has been promoted by fast food giants such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks. The spread of these global food corporations has arguably led to the decline of local diets and eating traditions.

cultural globalisation

The Globalisation of sport  is another fairly obvious example of cultural globalisation – think of all the international sporting events that take place – most notably the World Cup and The Olympics, and Formula 1, which bind millions together in a shared, truly global, ‘leisure experience’.

Converging Global Consumption Patterns – today you can go to pretty much any major city in the world and share in a similar ‘consumption experience’. Also, more and more people in Asia and South-America are coming to enjoy high-consumption lifestyles like in the West – car ownership and tourism are both on the increase globally for example. Central to this is the growth of similar styles of shopping malls, and leisure parks which provide a homogeneous cultural experience in different regions across the world.

globalisation consumerism

The Global Village/ Global Consciousness

Individuals and families are now more directly plugged into news from the outside world – some of the most gripping events of the past decade have unfolded in real time in front of a global audience. According to Giddens this means that more and more people have a more ‘global outlook’ and increasingly identify with a global audience – for example, television reporting of natural disasters in developing countries result in people in wealthier countries donating money to charities such as Oxfam to assist with relief efforts. Giddens developed the concept of ‘Cosmopolitanism’ to describe this process of an emerging global identity.

A criticism of Giddens is that some people perceive increasing globalisation as a threat to their ways of life and retreat into Fundamentalism and/ or Nationalism as a defensive response, suggesting that Globalisation could go into reverse…

Detraditionalisation

In his classic 1999 text, Runaway World, Anthony Giddens argues that one consequence of globalisation is detraditionalisation – where people question their traditional beliefs about religion, marriage, and gender roles and so on. He uses the concept of ‘detraditionalisation’ rather than ‘decline of tradition’ to reflect the fact that in many cases people continue with their traditional ways of life, rather than actually changing them, but the very fact that they are now actively questioning aspects of their lives means cultures are much less stable and less predictable than before globalisation, because more people are aware of the fact that there are alternative ways of doing things and that they can change traditions if they want to.

The above processes are related to growth of urbanisation, especially the growth of global cities which have highly educated, politically engaged middle classes.

Global Risks/ Global Risk Consciousness

Ulrich Beck (1992) argues that a fundamental feature of globalisation is the development of a global risk consciousness, which emerges due to shared global problems which threaten people in multiple countries – examples include the threat of terrorism, international nuclear war, the threat of global pandemics, the rise of organised crime funded primarily through international drug trafficking, and the threat of planetary melt-down due to global warming.

On the downside, the constant media focus on such global problems has led to a widespread culture of fear and increasing anxiety across the globe, which has arguably contributed to things such as Paranoid Parenting and Brexit, but on the plus side, new global international movements and agencies have emerged through which people come together across borders to tackle such problems.

disneyfication

Sources used to write this post:

Chapman et al (2016?)* Sociology AQA Year 2.

Giddens (2009) Sociology.

*No publication date provided in text!?!?@”?!

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Factors Contributing to Globalisation

‘Globalisation refers to the fact that we all increasingly live in one world, so that individuals, groups and nations become ever more interdependent.’ (Giddens, Sociology, 2009)

Globalisation in this sense has been occurring over a very long period of human history, but the sheer pace and intensity of it has increased in the last 40 years or so.

Globalisation

Factors contributing to Globalisation

The rise of information and communications technology

  • The move from telephonic communication to cable and satellite digital communication have resulted in increasing information flows
  • Time-space compression – people in faraway places feel closer together as they can communicate instantaneously.
  • Individuals and families are more directly plugged into news from the outside world – some of the most gripping events of the past decade have unfolded in real time in front of a global audience.
  • Some individuals identify being more ‘cosmopolitanism’ as a result and increasingly identify with a global audience; others perceive increasing globalisation as a threat to their ways of life and retreat into Fundamentalism and/ or Nationalism as a defensive response.

Economic factors

  • The global economy is Post Industrial – as a result it is increasingly ‘weightless’ (Quah 1999) – products are much more likely to be information based/ electronic, such as computer software, films and music or information services rather than actual tangible, physical goods such as food, clothing or cars.
  • The role of Transnational Corporations (TNCs) is particularly important. These are companies that produce goods in more than one country, and they are oriented to global markets and global products.
  • Global Commodity chains – manufacturing is increasingly globalised as there are more worldwide networks extending from the raw material to the final consumer. The least profitable aspects of production – actually making physical products, tend to be done in poorer, peripheral countries, whereas the more profitable aspects, related to branding and marketing, tend to be done in the richer, developed, core countries.
  • Production is much more flexible than in the past – companies are much more likely to hire people on short term contracts and move around the globe seeking cheaper labour costs, as a response to increased global economic competition.
  • The electronic economy underpins globalisation – Banks, corporations, fund managers and individuals are able to shift huge funds across boarders instantaneously at the click of a mouse. Transfers of vast amounts of capital can trigger economic crises.

Political changes

  • The collapse of Communism in the 1990s meant the end of the divided ‘cold war’ world, and now these ex-communist countries are themselves democracies and integrated into the global economy.
  • The growth of international and regional mechanisms of government such as the United Nations and European Union – governments of Nation States are increasingly restricted by international directives and laws stemming from these international bodies.
  • International Non-Governmental organisations such as OXFAM or Greenpeace, operate in dozens of countries, and members tend to have an international outlook.

The above account of factors contributing to globalisation is taken from Giddens’ Sociology, edition 6, 2009.

(It seems like quite a useful framework, which I’ll add to when I get a chance!)

Related Posts 

What is Cultural Globalisation?

What is Economic Globalisation?

What is Political Globalisation?

Globalisation Key Concepts – Test Yourself Quizlet!

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How Does Globalisation Impact Family Life?

Globalisation is the increasing interconnectedness of countries (and the people within them) across the globe – below are just a few (very brief) thoughts on how globalisation might impact family life the United Kingdom…

  • Increased immigration – more family diversity, mixed race couples. (link to topic 3)
  • Shift in manufacturing abroad – Decline in traditional male jobs, more equality between men and women in relationships (link to topic 5)
  • Globalisation of media – commercialisation of childhood (toxic childhood), awareness of global problems (paranoid parents) (link to topic 5)
  • More financial crises (‘credit crunch’) – more divorce/ family instability (link to topic 2)
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Outline and Explain Two Theoretical Problems of Using Social Surveys in Social Research

Firstly, social surveys suffer from the imposition problem, closed questions limits what respondents can say Interpretivists argue respondents have diverse motives and it is unlikely that researchers will think up every possible relevant question and every possible, response, thus questionnaires will lack validity.

This is especially true for more complex topics such as religions belief – ticking the ‘Christian’ box can mean many different things to many different people, for example.

Interpretivists thus say that surveys are socially constructed—they don’t reflect reality, but the interests of researchers

However, this is easily rectified by including a section at the end of questionnaires in which respondents can write their explanations.

Secondly, self-completion surveys can also suffer from poor representativeness…

Postal questionnaires can suffer from a low response rate, and samples might be self-selecting— due to the illiterate or people who might be ashamed/ scared to return questionnaires on sensitive topics.

Also, you can’t check who has filled them in, so surveys may actually misrepresent the target population.

However, it is possible to rectify this with incentives and booster samples.

The above is a suggested response to a possible 10 mark ‘pure methods’ question which might come up on either paper 1 or 3 of the AQA’s A Level Sociology Papers. It follows the basic formula – make a point, develop it twice, and then evaluate it (which to my mind seems to work well for ‘pure methods’ 10 mark questions. 

Theory and Methods A Level Sociology Revision Bundle 

If you like this sort of thing, then you might like my Theory and Methods Revision Bundle – specifically designed to get students through the theory and methods sections of  A level sociology papers 1 and 3.

Contents include:

  • 74 pages of revision notes
  • 15 mind maps on various topics within theory and methods
  • Five theory and methods essays
  • ‘How to write methods in context essays’.
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Outline and Explain Two Practical Advantages of Using Social Surveys in Social Research (10)

It’s possible that a 10 mark question on A level sociology papers 1 or 3 could simply ask you about a ‘pure’ research method, as with the example above.

This post suggests a strategy for how to answer such possible questions and provides one exemplar answer, which I think would get full marks in the exam….

Strategy 

  • Make two, distinct points—as different from each other as possible!
  • For each of the points, explain, develop it twice, and (if it flows) do a linked evaluation.
  • It’s good practice to link to Positivism and Interpretivism and use examples.

Exemplar Answer

Firstly, surveys are a quick and cheap means of gathering data from large numbers of people, across wide areas, because, once sent out, millions of people could potentially fill them at the same time.

They are especially quick/ efficient if put online because computers can analyse pre-coded answers and quantify/ compare the data instantaneously.

They also make it easier to gain government funding because you can generalise from large data sets and thus use to inform social policy—the census, for example, allows the government to plan for school places in the future.

However, Interpretivists would argue you never get in-depth/ valid data with this method, and so predictions can be flawed—the polls on Brexit didn’t tell us what people really thought about this issue!

Secondly, you don’t need ‘people skills’ to use social surveys, thus anyone can use them to do research.

This is because they can be written in advance, and put on-line or sent by post, and thus sociologist’s personal involvement with respondents can be kept to a minimum.

This also means that busy people with family commitments can easily use social surveys.

However, Interpretivists and Feminist argue this wouldn’t be an advantage for all topics—some areas are so sensitive they require personal contact, such as domestic abuse.

Theory and Methods A Level Sociology Revision Bundle 

If you like this sort of thing, then you might like my Theory and Methods Revision Bundle – specifically designed to get students through the theory and methods sections of  A level sociology papers 1 and 3.

Contents include:

  • 74 pages of revision notes
  • 15 mind maps on various topics within theory and methods
  • Five theory and methods essays
  • ‘How to write methods in context essays’.
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Sociological Perspectives – Key Supporting Evidence

Below are a few quantitative and qualitative sources (case studies and statistics) that can be used to illustrate aspects of the main perspectives within A-level sociology – Functionalism, Marxism, Feminism, Social Action Theory and Post and Late Modernism

Functionalism

  • Bruce Parry: participant observation with ‘The Tribe’
  • Educating Yorkshire
  • Official statistics show declining family Size
  • Cross national statistics – positive correlation between economic development and social development
  • Official statistics – the positive correlation between truancy and crime
  • The Cambridge study in delinquency and development

Marxism

  • The correlation between increasing neoliberal policies and increasing global inequality
  • Official statistics show a positive correlation between material deprivation and underachievement in education
  • Official Statistics show an increase in childhood obesity, suggesting a link between advertising, pester power and poor child health
  • Case studies of the huge economic and social costs of corporate crime: Enron, Bhopal
  • Case studies of exploitation in the developing world. E.g. Ship breaking in Bangladesh
  • Case studies of elite criminals not being punished for their crimes – e.g. Mark Ashley of Sports Direct

Feminism

  • Official Statistics on gender equality and empowerment – no country on earth has gender equality
  • Statistics on the Domestic Division of Labour show that women spend twice as long on domestic chores as men
  • Official statistics on domestic violence show that ¼ women are victims in their lifetimes, more than men
  • A range of qualitative evidence from the Everyday Sexism Project
  • Statistics on gender and subject choice – 97% of hairdressing apprenticeships = female….
  • The prevalence of pornography and prostitution and their links with sex trafficking

Social Action Theory

  • Life-histories and Facebook profiles reveal complex and diverse family structures
  • Rosenthal and Jacobsen’s field experiment showing the self- fulfilling prophecy
  • Jock Young’s research on the drug takers
  • Self-report studies demonstrating that official crime stats are socially constructed
  • The fact that Gok Wan is famous
  • Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Postmodernism

  • Judith Stacey: The Divorce Extended Family: show complex family structures
  • My Monkey-Baby
  • Research studies on the importance of identity in education – e.g. Carolyn Jackson and the Ladettes
  • Stan Cohen’s research on the Mods and Rockers
  • The happy pierced prostitute who has a client who shoves golf-balls up his ass
  • Vanilla vloggers such as Zoella

Late Modernism

  • Official Statistics on growing global problems such as climate change, global crime and migration
  • The increase in New Social Movements such as the Green Movement
  • Jock Young – The Vertigo of Late Modernity
  • The fact that many nation states have nuclear weapons
  • The high global expenditure on the military
  • The positive correlation between educational achievement and income – nationally and globally