‘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.
In this post I consider four Factors contributing to Globalisation – information technology, economic factors, cultural factors and political changes. This post has been written primarily for A-level sociology students studying the Global Development module, and is intended as part of an introduction to the concept of 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.
- The emergence of global sporting events such as The Olympics , Formula 1 and Football all bring people together across boarders.
- Music, film, and celebrity culture more generally often draw audiences from several different countries.
- Global consumption patterns have become increasingly similar in recent decades, with the rise of shopping malls and online shopping.
- International migration is a key aspect of cultural globalisation – the more people move around the globe, the more global connections there tend to be.
- There is an emerging global risk consciousness – the sense that we are all at threat from global problems such as the Environmental Crisis, Terrorism and more recently Coronavirus, and that we all need to work together (even if that means staying apart?) to combat such problems.
Manchester United Football club are a good example of how global football is – despite being based in one of the largest cities in England, fewer than half the players are from England, the rest being from a diverse array of countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America, and the UK only ranks 10th on Facebook for the number of Man United fans – there are more fans in Egypt and Indonesia than there are in the UK, for example! (source.)
- 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.
- 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!)
Globalisation Key Concepts – Test Yourself Quizlet!