Is Increased globalization a good thing?

More and more people are becoming aware of the 'shrinking' world. The golden arch of McDonalds and the infamous Coca Cola logo are inescapable in almost every country. We only have to go as far as the nearest supermarket in order to see the extent to which citizens of one country are dependent on imported goods from other parts of the world. The World Wide Web is the most graphic example. In order to assess whether increased globalisation is a good thing or not, this essay will firstly discuss the term 'globalisation'.

Then it will analyse the advantages and disadvantages of globalisation in our contemporary world. Over the course of the last few decades, the term 'globalization' has slowly crept into the words of politicians, economists, journalists, entertainers alike. It is a term especially controversial to define because it is a subject which undergoes constant dispute between academics about just what it means to speak of globalization. It is commonly associated with words such as capitalism, modernisation, liberalisation and is often used as a synonym for internationalisation and universalisation.

Perhaps a good starting point for the discussion is one where globalization is defined as 'the process of increasing interconnectedness between societies such that events in one part of the world more and more have effects on peoples and societies far away'1. In other words, a globalized world is one in which social, economic and political events become more and more interconnected and where such events have more impact upon each other. Most people will agree that nowadays the world economy is more interdependent than ever.

However, opinions clash when trying to come to a decision about whether or not it is a positive process or not. It is a subject which constantly draws fervent support and fervent opposition. Firstly, it is necessary to draw up some arguments in favour of globalization. After all, there must be a reason, or reasons, why it has become such a vital aspect of world development. Through international trade, goods and services are readily available in all parts of the globe resulting in great number of international transactions.

Necessities such as food and clothing are much cheaper today than they were 10 or 20 years ago. In large part, this is a direct consequence of liberalization and trade expansion. Such gains benefit literally billions of people. Also, now that air travel is no longer a blessing for the rich and prosperous, international travel has become more frequent. In less than twenty years, the number of passengers flying between Asia and North America had increased almost six-fold2. This positive trend owes to the phenomenon of globalization. Nowadays, people around the world are connected to each other than ever before.

Forms of communications have fundamentally revolutionalised the way people from one part of the world deal with the rest of the world. Electronic communications allow flows of information from one part of the world to another and the Internet and the World Wide Web have helped widen the periphery of social groups that one would normally have access to. Technologies have made it possible to make immediate contact with each other, irrespective of their location on earth and regardless of the state borders that might lie between them.

Another benefit of globalization is the creation of the 'global culture'. The world is becoming more homogeneous. Differences between people are diminishing, developing a cosmopolitan community. Such transformations are likely to lead to fewer disagreements amongst nations. Greater harmony will make war less likely. In fact, there are arguments that accelerated globalisation since the 1960s may have reduced the chances of major interstate war. The most important contention put forward by advocates of globalization is that it is a progressive movement improving the lives of people.

Engagement with the rest of the world facilitates growth. Growth, in turn, reduces poverty and promotes prosperity. A great example is the tremendous economic success enjoyed by national economies of the 'Tiger' economies of Singapore and South Korea, which have had some of the highest growth rates in the international economy. In fact, for South Asia, the average life expectancy at birth has more than doubled from only 30 years just before World War II to 63 years today. Yet they are still able to subscribe to their own 'Asian' values.

This successfully refutes the argument that globalisation destroys national identities. China's experience was similar: with liberalisation came spectacular growth, and poverty declined from 28 to 9 per cent between 1978 and 19983. Life expectancy at birth has also increased very considerably around the world. Moreover, the gap in life expectancy between the old industrial and the developing countries has narrowed. Child mortality has declined and living conditions have improved considerably for most inhabitants of the developing world. To reiterate, poverty has diminished, thanks to globalisation.