in this post I consider some recent examples which seem to suggest that globalisation is going into reverse.
I also evaluate each of these pieces of evidence.
Personally, I’m not convinced that there is any strong evidence of a reversal in globalisation!
At first sight, Brexit might seem to be evidence of anti-global attitudes, especially if you are of the opinion that Brexit was mainly people wanting more control over immigration into Britain – all the time Britain was in the EU, it had no control over its immigration policy.
This ties into a theory of Globalisation advanced in the 1990s by Adrian Wood – the idea that globalisation would benefit unskilled workers in less developed countries at the expense of unskilled workers in more developed countries – and it was primarily the less educated in Britain who voted for Brexit, suggesting this could be something of a backlash against globalisation.
However, it was mainly older people who voted for Brexit, the younger generations were more likely to vote against it and younger generations tend to have a more cosmopolitan worldview, and the Brexit vote only went through – nearly as many people voted against it as voted for it.
The Increasing Number of Boarder Walls
There are currently now 70 walls border walls between countries, when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 there were only 15! (Source).
One of the best known examples is the wall between the United States and Mexico, which was one of Donald Trump’s main 2016 election pledges, and is still being built!
The total build cost of this particular wall is around $15 billion. (Source BBC)
The erection of giant border walls certainly seems to be some strong evidence of globalisation in reverse, as Nation States seek to prevent the free movement of people, and presumably they need the support of their populations (or at least around half of them) to be able to put these constructions in place.
HOWEVER, while walls will certainly deter some people, they do not stop everyone from crossing them – in fact it could be giving more power to organised gangs of people smugglers – the more difficult it is to cross a wall, the more likely people are to turn to ‘experts’ to help them get across, having to pay them $thousands of dollars for the privilege, and no refund if they’re not successful.
And where drugs are concerned, there’s even less evidence that walls are effective there – Mexican Drugs cartels just use very long tunnels these days for example!
Coronavirus – will result in countries seeking to localise supply chains
This BBC article summarises the views of a number of different professors of globalisation who seem to agree that Globalisation may have peaked in 2019 and that Covid-19 accelerate a trend towards less globalisation.
One the main points is that while Gloabalisation has brought many benefits (such as rapid economic growth) it has also brought increased risks, and the pandemic has highlighted this – it showed us how dependent we are on global supply chains for example and how quickly stocks of goods can run out when supply chains are disrupted.
It is thus possible that 2021 will see an acceleration of the trend towards the trend of manufacturing taking place closer to home rather than being spread out across huge global supply chains – as companies seek more security from disruption.
The problem with this is that it is ‘future thinking’ – we don’t know if this will actually be the case!
- Is Globalisation in Reverse?
- This article from the Spectator Magazine suggests that Coronavirus will accelerate the trend of reversing globalisation.
Find out More – You might like to watch this video: Globalisation: Is it in Reverse?
Relevance of this to A-level Sociology
Globalisation is an integral part of the subject, but especially relevant to the Global Development option for unit 2.
The idea of globalisation being in reverse is useful to criticise Optimist and Pessimist theories of globalisation especially.