Outline evidence for the existence of a 'global society.' In what ways might global society facilitate peace and/or exacerbate tensions in international relations?

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Outline evidence for the existence of a ‘global society.’   In what ways might global society facilitate peace and/or exacerbate tensions in international relations?

Until the mid 20th century most people lived in close-knit communities, having little or no contact with those from other cultures and countries.  During recent decades people around the world have become increasingly more interconnected through global trading, the media, electronic communications and faster means of travel.  The boundaries dividing local, national and international communities have become increasingly blurred as global society has emerged.

Global society can be defined as the ‘entire complex of social relations between human beings on a world scale.’  This complex field of social relations encompasses many specific systems, some of which are genuinely global such as the World Wide Web, and others remain restricted to national or local contexts.  Global society can be seen therefore ‘as a diverse social universe in which the unifying forces of modern production, markets, communications and cultural and political modernisation interact with many global, regional, national and local segmentations and differentiations.’.

The end of the Cold War enabled a rapid expansion of the global economy that in turn produced a global society.  Since the end of World War II there has been a steady growth in multinational companies, interested in producing and selling in the domestic markets around the world and there are now over ‘63,000 transnational corporations.’  International trade continues to grow with all types of commodities such as: clothes, computers, cars toys and the raw materials that make them being bought and sold around the world.  This has, to an extent, led to a ‘borderless’ world where state borders are less important.  ‘What is important is consumption and consumption knows no borders… as we are all consumers we begin to define ourselves by what we consume.’  Through the consumption of mass produced goods, people have constructed a new global identity that has led to an increasing uniformity and similarity across global communities.  The homogenous nature of communities around the world is a strong indicator for the existence of a global society where ‘glittering shopping malls are interchangeable, fast food outlets sell the same products, young people drink the same soft drinks, wear the same identical branded clothing, play the same computer games, watch the same films and listen to the same music.’.   A flow of goods and ideas has moved from many cultures in many directions, for example, Chinese medicine and Zen Buddhism has spread westwards along with Chinese and Thai restaurants whereas MacDonalds and western pop music have spread to the Far East.

The technologies that have produced efficient international communication have greatly assisted the development of a global society.  The Internet is perhaps the most significant and has facilitated the organisation of business on a global scale as never before.  The Internet has not only generated business but also encouraged a new global democracy and awareness by providing anyone with access to millions of other people around the globe.  This new information gathering capacity has enabled people to become aware of the activities of others in many kinds of situations around the world.  Global news organisations too have grown, spreading information about current situations in many different countries – ‘Global media coverage is more important than it has ever been, as world leaders are more concerned about how global attitudes affect local social and economic decision making.’  This has contributed to a global consciousness influencing the way that people think and act.  The slogan ‘think globally, act locally’ embodies a global consciousness, encouraging an awareness that environmental issues such as climate change, habitat destruction and pollution affect everyone, especially the worlds poorest people. Other elements of global consciousness are seen in spheres such as human rights and health.

The proliferation of global travel is an important factor in the development of a global society.  It has caused much cross-cultural fertilisation and exchanges of knowledge.  Travel has introduced people to ‘new ways of doing things … and information is taken back home and used to change ways of life and patterns of social activity.  People discover that there are other ways to live and other places to live in and they do both.’  The Channel Tunnel is an important technological achievement involving interstate co-operation, that has facilitated swifter links with other countries.  Linked to the increase in global travel is the interest in learning other languages and the growing number of language students.  The increasingly cosmopolitan nature of many of the world’s cities and cross border migration of large numbers of people both indicate the existence of a global society.

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The growth in the number of international organisations is also a significant indicator.  ‘These organisations have proliferated to such an extent than on almost every issue, over and above the traditional state to state diplomatic network there exists a more or less permanent framework of institutions through which collective measures can be realised.’  There are estimated to be over 48,000 international organisations, some are intergovernmental organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) but the majority are non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International and Green peace.  There is much evidence therefore to indicate the existence ...

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