Over the last century, the world has grown closer and closer. Because of faster and more accessible communication and transportation services, the globe is more interconnected than ever. The information age allows for the easy production and shipment of products around the world, and companies can branch out beyond their home country to a worldwide market. At the same time, these economic connections have fueled political alliances, resulting in the creation of numerous international organizations. But are these transformations positive? Globalization offers many benefits like free trade agreements, quality of life improvements for many, and a more secure world. It has also made the rich wealthier and has an exploitative edge. It’s a complicated issue.
First and foremost, what is globalization? In short, it allows for the world to develop in a way that makes countries more connected. This can be through economic, political, and cultural avenues. It’s extremely broad, covering everything from large tech companies like Apple and Samsung to pop stars or trends. Though in large part due to technological developments like the internet, it is also a product of a post-Cold War world. It started when the United States became a global superpower. In addition, in the 1950s, countries created organizations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United Nations, which set the framework for a new cooperative future in which countries would be able to resolve issues through diplomacy, rather than war.
Globalization has led to numerous innovations and advantages in our modern world. It opens up trade and commerce to a degree never before seen in history. This has resulted in free trade and reduced tariffs and economic barriers. By allowing companies and products to travel over international borders, globalization also promotes competition. As a result, prices are driven down and innovation increases. Companies can also operate more efficiently, as labor and resource pools are unlocked worldwide. Politically, globalization has allowed for increased cooperation on international goals such as climate change.
Furthermore, smaller countries stand to benefit from access to technology from more developed countries, and from new employment opportunities. On a cultural level, ethnic diversity and new ideas have spread country to country, from cuisine to religion. These connections are fostering tolerance. Whether we’re aware of it or not, globalization has a key part in things we take for granted. For example, things like sushi, TikTok, IPhones, and just about everything else we use or consume are products of an international supply chain that ties everyone and everything together.
Despite its prevalence and its positive impacts, globalization has drawn criticism due to it’s less than ideal impacts on the poor and working-class people of the world. Concerns have arisen over the treatment of workers internationally. Because companies often outsource their menial labor jobs to 3rd world countries with lower levels of regulation and worker protection. This allows them to pay workers lower wages in unfair working conditions. All Companies care about is the bottom line. In other words, they’re willing to sidestep regulation and moral arguments to increase profits. This means child labor is prominent, most notably in the chocolate industry. In Western Africa, the use of human trafficking and slavery to harvest Cocoa is common . Once workers harvest the cocoa, it is sold to large chocolate producers that stock supermarket shelves, like Hershey’s and Nestle.
Chinese manufacturing company Foxconn creates electronic products for companies like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Nintendo. They are also controversial for providing low wages, having excessive overtime, and having high suicide rates among its workers. The global supply chain allows large corporations to take advantage of working-class people in other countries. Many have also criticized Labor outsourcing for taking away crucial jobs domestically. Since manufacturing moved out of the US and into other developed countries with cheaper labor, domestic factory workers are left unemployed.
In addition, cultural appropriation and assimilation can lead popular culture to dominate regional, folk cultures and dilute them. Many find it difficult to maintain a unique cultural identity when any and everything can easily turn into a commodity. Internationally, you can see the impact of the diffusion of pop culture by the numerous KFCs and McDonald’s in other countries. Many fear this will take over regional cuisines due to convenience.
Globalization is inevitable. It found a way to embed itself in the modern world and is a result of change and innovation. It’s flaws must be addressed through public policy. Increased regulations on companies, a more vigilant reinforcement of labor laws, and taking a hard stance on international law can all help keep globalization sustainable and beneficial. Whether we like it or not, globalization is the future, and the world is only going to get more and more connected. What matters is how we facilitate those connections.