7.3 Globalisation - The Bluring of the Devide



7.3 Globalisation – The Blurring of the Divide

The above definitions of "more economically developed" countries and "less economically developed" countries do not imply a direct split throughout the world. Within each country there are divides between rich and poor. The increase in trade, spread of politics and ideas internationally has blurred the divide between these definitions. This mass exchange of money, pollution, goods, population and ideas is termed as "globalisation" and has dramatically changed the social profile of the world, and is continuing to do so.

The following passage gives four threads or themes of implications of globalisation:

1. Economic The flows of money, goods and services around the world. In any hour of any day, you can be reminded of this by a glance at the labels on the products you use, or at news reports of a company shifting its plant from one part of the world to another (usually cheaper) location. Although the world has seen unprecedented wealth created via economic globalisation, it has also seen inequalities widen. Increasingly interdependent global economic structures present a huge challenge to attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Political The flow of ideas, ideologies and political systems. The process of globalisation has disseminated free market capitalist orthodoxy – generally allied to democratic systems of government – throughout the world. With these processes has come growth in the environmental and social movements. Conventions on climate change, biodiversity and trade agreements, shaped by, among others, global rather than national networks (patterns of interaction) of science, business and NGO interests, are tangible expressions of this political globalisation. Globalisation sees longer (and usually more complex) chains of cause and effect established. It is often pointed out that we don't have well-established institutions of global governance. They certainly can't yet claim to match the pace and extent of economic globalisation.

3. Social/cultural The flow of social practices and cultural products. This is often characterised as ‘McDonaldisation’ – the relentless spread of western (especially American) culture. However, these flows also include counter-currents, such as the global fame or notoriety of the French anti- globalisation campaigner and farmer Joseph Bové, and the Indian author and environmentalist Arundhati Roy. Some authors argue that the emergent ‘global culture’ allows the development of a political and ethical underpinning for sustainable development.

4. Ecological Global movements of species, specifically in tandem with globalisation human activities of development, trade and tourism. Publicity about global flows of pollutants in the 1960s and 1970s drove many people to support environmentalism. More recently, ozone depletion and climate change represent perhaps the most dramatic evidence of globalised and linked processes of environmental change.

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Globalisation has both positive and negative effects on the social systems of the world. In some ways it enhances the grip of the poor to keep them in poverty through international markets, in others it offers a chance for the mass spread of ideas and knowledge which could bridge the divide between the rich and poor. It is a central concept linked to all other themes explored in this module; some of these linkages will be explored next.