According to the online dictionary Merriam-Webster Online, globalization is “the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets.” Globalization, however, reaches beyond the economic scope since it “is a term that encompasses all cross-border interactions, whether economic, political, or cultural.” (Marber 56). Within a globalized world, everything is related and connected, constantly changing and transforming not only the economy but also politics, culture, consumption, and telecommunications. The following paper aims at showing how the world is becoming globalized, what advantages and disadvantages appear throughout this process, and why globalization is an overall good thing for the world and its citizens.
As already mentioned, globalization affects several levels of interaction. With regard to the economy, free trade and less trade barriers enabled the forces of globalization to grow stronger and faster than ever before in human history. Within the last twenty years, the Soviet Union and China have integrated economically with the West while Latin America and Asia have worked toward stable and liberal systems in order to be part of “meaningful socioeconomic progress and […] Western standards of living.” (Marber 56). By using the motors of globalization, communication and transportation, more and more countries are able to move capital and knowledge quickly around the globe. Companies rise up to transnational corporations with offices worldwide, thousands of employees, and billions of profit. International finance takes place in today’s stock market capitals New York City, London, Frankfurt, and Tokyo, moving currencies from one economic sector to the next. In the past, people exchanged possessions such as animals or valuable goods in person; nowadays, everybody can go online, order what he desires and pay with credit cards. Trade has become easy, fast and open to the majority of participants. Besides, economies concentrate on producing products which have a comparative advantage over the same goods produced by others, thus working more efficient and at low cost. Products which do not have a comparative advantage are purchased from other economies. Companies spend foreign direct investments (FDI) in order to bring capital to other parts of the world, creating a cycle of money transfers which pushes economies further towards economic growth and reduced poverty (IMF 1). Mass production technologies, aggregate material infrastructure and productive capabilities are “at the root of our modern prosperity.” (Marber 56-57) Travel times of people and products minimize when using cars, trucks, ships, trains and airplanes.
Another important influence of globalization can be seen in politics. In order to fully participate in free trade, economies require stable institutions, human rights, laws to protect personal freedom and property, as well as effective governments and basic principles regarding education. Democracies tend to fulfill those needs the best since they are outward-oriented, liberal and hardly disturb the ‘invisible hand’ of the free market. This is proven when looking at countries in Latin America and Africa during the 1970s and 1980s: due to authoritarian and inward-oriented policies, “economies stagnated or declined, poverty increased and high inflation became the norm.” (IMF 1)
Last but not least, globalization also affects our view of geography, culture, consumption and telecommunications. By discovering new parts of the world, colonizing and integrating them into the world community, the first step towards globalization was taken. The International Date Line, world time zones and the Gregorian calendar further moved people towards united standards which are required for global trade (Australian Apec Centre 2). Telecommunications have become easier and faster by introducing telephones, then fax machines, computers, email and the internet. Radios and televisions spread news, music and advertisement faster than ever before, showing people what happened in other parts of the world, broadening their horizons, and telling them their desires and consumption needs. Western standards mingle with old traditions which can easily be discovered when counting McDonald’s restaurants or Hollywood movies shown worldwide. Overall, cultural differences disband bringing everybody closer together.