Although a form of social interaction (Held and McGrew, 2002:1) at heart, Globalization is a socio-economic phenomenon which increasingly integrates the world. Due to its breadth of control, it can cause a complex chain of effects: social or economic problems in one country can spread to others; thus entangling the world into a web of economic dependencies.
Globalization is often perceived as Westernization or Americanization due to the imposition of Western culture upon the Global South as a result of American business expansion. Many fear that American culture will hinder local customs as “many of the most visible cultural expressions of globalization are American – Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, CNN” (Giddens, 2000:33). Furthermore, they identify that “global capitalism [is used] as a convenient cover for the internationalization of American business above all else” (Held and McGrew, 2002:42).
Globalization “is associated with the deepening integration of separate national economies” (Held and McGrew, 2002:39). This leads to the effects of a socio-political event in one country to be felt in others. For example, a political upheaval in Russia can cause layoffs in the Brazilian auto industry, a recession in the United States can upset the Nikkei stock exchange, and an incident like the “East Asian crash of 1997-8” can result in an economic downturn in many countries (Held and McGrew, 2002:50).
Globalization has caused an increase in global economic inequality and the survival rate in the world. A few countries are exempt from this observation: namely Japan, and South Korea have caught up economically with the industrialized West. These countries along with the Global North are extremely rich compared to the Global South, mainly because they are industrialized and can take advantage of Capitalism.
Globalization has also decreased the gap of survival between rich and poor, by making medicines and health-care are relatively inexpensive as a result of business competition and innovation. For example, the impoverished Indian state of Kerala has one of the highest life expectancies “through public outlays for education, health and nutrition” (Sen, 1993:22) while Saudi Arabia, despite its wealth, has a lower life expectancy.
Globalization has been criticized as a tool for expanding the markets of American business and spreading Western culture. It has combined together disjoint economies such that events in one nation affect others. Moreover it has increased economic inequality while increasing survival rate. Globalization has shaped the world into a more tightly integrated and complex socio-economic entity.
Held, D & McGrew, A. Globalization/Anti-Globalization. Cambridge, Polity.
Giddens, A. Runaway world: How globalization is reshaping our lives. New York, Routledge.
Sen, A. 1993. The Economics of Life and Death. Scientific American, 40-47.