Globalistion has brought improved inter-relationships
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"Globalisation has brought improved cultural, political and economic inter-relationships between societies." To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence agree with this view of world development? Cohen and Kennedy suggest that the function of sociologists today is to provide a 'sociology for one world', i.e., a global society that investigates and analyses the increasing interconnectedness and interdependency of the world. This is known as 'globalisation' - the emergence of a global economic and cultural system which, allegedly, is incorporating the people of the world into a single global society. It has been said that globalisation has brought improved cultural, political and economic inter-relationships between societies. Cohen and Kennedy argue that globalisation needs to be understood as a 'set of mutually reinforcing transformations' of the world. These include the following: - Changes in the concept of time and space - Mass travel enables us, through tourism, to experience a greater range of other cultures, this improving cultural inter-relationships between societies. - Economic markets and production in different countries - are becoming interdependent because of the growth in international trade, the new international division of labour, the growing influence of transnational corporations and the global dominance of organisations like the World Trade Organisation.
GATT particularly aimed to reduce trade barriers and competition between nations. The World Trade Organisation, or WTO, replaced GATT in 1994, and extended the agreements on trade in goods, as well as negotiating a new GATT - which covers services such as telecommunications and banking. The main impact of these economic rules has been the increase in the flow of global finance from $17.5 trillion in 1979, to over $3000 trillion in 2000. This is also aimed to improve economic inter-relationships by reducing competition and increasing services between nations. However, Marxists and other global pessimists have criticised the free-trade agenda of the WTO. They claim that global trade rules are unfair and biased against developing countries as these countries are being pressured to open up their economies immediately to Western banks and transnationals, and to abandon tariffs on imports from the West. In this way, globalisation does not improve economic inter-relationships, but instead allows the West to be more dominating of developing countries. The neo-Marxist, Frobel, notes that from the 1970s onwards, we have seen substantial movement of industrial capital from the advanced industrialised world to the developing world. Many developing nations in the 1970s and 1980s set up export-processing zones (EPZs)
This focus fails to acknowledge how Western culture is enriched by inputs from other world cultures and religions. - It assumes that people in the developing world are consumer dopes. In fact, their involvement in global culture may result in them accessing a wider range of choices. - It underestimates the strength of local culture. The problem with neo-Marxist and traditionalist views is that they tend to over-focus on economic globalisation and neglect the globalisation of culture. They also make the mistake of viewing globalisation as a one-way process and as a form of cultural imperialism. They consequently tend to see globalisation as leading inevitably to dystopia, rather than improving any bonds between societies. Pessimistic globalisers, such as Barber and Schulz, fear that we are turning into a 'McWorld', in which cultures and consumption will be standardised. However, the limited evidence we have so far suggests that hybridity - cultural borrowing and mixing - rather than uniformity may be the outcome of global cultural change. Cohen and Kennedy optimistically state that globalisation will lead to an extension in human rights, universal access to education and communications and multicultural understanding, meaning improved cultural inter-relationships. In conclusion, it cannot be denied that globalisation is occurring, but whether this is a good or a bad thing depends on the theoretical position you decide to take.
This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification section.
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