Last Updated on November 10, 2020 by Karl Thompson
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.
This post focuses on four key aspects of economic globalisation: global supply chains, the growth of Transnational Corporations, and the increasing importance of the post modern, weightless economy.
This post has been written primarily for students studying the Global Development option for A-level sociology.
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
TNCs 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.
The global economy is Post Industrial
The global economy 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.