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Modernity and its Futures (SC311): What is meant by Globalisation?

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Modernity and its Futures (SC311): What is meant by Globalisation? Globalization is on everybody's lips; a fad word fast turning into a shibboleth, a magic incantation, a pass-key meant to unlock the gates to all present and future mysteries. For some, globalization is what we are bound to do if we wish to be happy; for others, globalization is the cause of our unhappiness.1 Globalisation is a fervidly contested and often misunderstood concept. It has occupied and divided economists, sociologists and anti-capitalists alike. Anti-globalisation protestors have regularly and successfully picketed World Trade Organisation summits as part of their stand against the might of globalisation. However since globalisation this has taken a number of different forms, it is difficult to discuss in a general way or isolate an apparent definition. Conversely when the term is used it is tends to be in relation to three forms. Some use the term when referring to the economic integration of the world but others use it on a cultural and political level. This can be distinguished by the growing awareness that they are members of the human race that inhabit one world. The term globalisation is often used in the sense to refer to the growing integration of societies across the world. It can be seen as a process by the world is to be transformed into a single global system. The word globalisation first came into use towards the end of the 20th century. ...read more.


This is another way nations sovereignty in economic, social and political affairs for member states. Political sociologists are often concerned with a number of issues arising out of globalisation that include the erosion of the Nation state, ecological problems and ethnic problems. Supporters of globalisation are said to wish to turn the world into one big global market.7 As a result, it is argued that globalisation seems to be weakening the power of individual countries to control their own destinies, and major decisions are made on a global level. The influence of national governments is reduced. For instance several advanced countries in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development-mainly Western European countries, plus Canada, Japan and the USA) have had responsibility for determining national interest rates over to their Central Banks, thereby abandoning national capital controls and eliminating the formal barriers between domestic and international markets. A dramatic illustration of ecological problems posed by globalisation was the explosion in 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine. The consequences were not foreseeable but were felt as far as Cumbria, England. The explosion provides an example of the way globalisation is producing what Ulrich Beck (1992) calls a 'world risk society', in which the survival of the planet is threatened by technological developments.8 However natural hazards such as floods, hurricane and volcanoes threatened people in the past, according to Giddens the risk environment, which now confronts us 'is structured mainly by humanly created risks.'9 ...read more.


Definitions of globalisation are twofold, which range from optimistic views of an emerging world order that is based on universal values of consensus. Conversely there are pessimistic view, which concentrates on the negative aspects such as ecological disaster, cultural standardization and ethnic wars. If one were to take a stance on globalisation one would agree with the work of the linguistic Noam Chomsky. His work has been admired throughout the academic world has at time aroused mixed-feelings, especially his assaults on the American government and foreign policy. Chomsky's predictions about the world under globalisation are neither optimistic nor pessimistic. However he "recognises the scale of injustice and inequality that economic globalisation and US government cause."13 He has come to this conclusion by analysing many statistics, which come from a variety of sources. He states that under globalisation, most of the profits go to the elite groups, which are American investors and American MNCs. For Third World countries, involvement in globalisation, in particular through free trade and rescheduling of debt, has had disastrous effects as it makes it impossible for them to pay off their debts to the IMF and World Bank. For the world in general, globalisation has yet to bring higher standards of living. Indications so far are that it will not do so. Global capitalism is orientated towards short- term profits that benefit only a few. Chomsky's belief that global capitalism is more focussed on the privileged individuals than on the benefit for the community as a whole, emulates my own. ...read more.

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