Globalisation refers to an international community influenced by technological development and economic, political, and military interests. It is characterised by a worldwide increase in interdependence, interactivity, interconnectedness, and the virtually instantaneous exchange of information (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler 1999, p. 458). Globalisation and its many characteristics can have numerous positive effects on society, but unfortunately, there are also many negative aspects that affect the economy and culture of countries worldwide.
The economy is the most affected aspect of globalisation. In terms of economy, some countries benefit from globalisation due to their high international imports and exports, open markets and removal of tariffs, bans and import quotas. These countries tend to be richer and more industrialised. However, as for the countries with a lower economic status, globalisation appears to be having an adverse effect.
“Even though the economic output has doubled in the past ten years, the gap between the richest and the poorest has worsened, which is not what you might expect when globalisation is making us increasingly interconnected and interdependent” (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler 1999, p. 464)
Many multinational corporations turn to countries with lower wages for the production of their goods. These new markets allow the corporations to produce their products at a much lower cost which results in an increased revenue upon the sale of their goods. This is a great disadvantage to non-industrialised countries as they often become subject to cheap labour, low wages and poor working conditions. The cartoon below depicts the conditions in which workers from non-industrialised countries are placed; working for multinational corporations to produce their goods at a very low cost.
Another element that is susceptible to the effects of globalisation is the culture and the associated traditions, symbols and customs of a country. The advancement of globalisation can negatively impact on a society’s culture through the process of cultural homogenisation. Cultural homogenisation refers to the reduction in cultural diversity through the popularisation and diffusion of a wide array of cultural symbols. This aspect of globalisation destroys the significance and sentimental meaning of not only physical symbols of a culture, but also customs, ideas and values. Cultural homogenisation is closely linked with cultural appropriation, which refers to the adoption or use of elements of one culture by a member or members from a different culture.
The image above shows singer Katy Perry dressed as an Egyptian Pharaoh for one of her recent music videos. The singer dressed in this particular outfit to make a fashion statement, rather than celebrating the customs of another culture. This is seen in a negative light as the cultural elements are portrayed as ‘the latest trend’ rather than a significant tradition. Much like cultural homogenisation, cultural appropriation causes the significance and cultural value of symbols, traditions and ideas to be lost.
Globalisation is inevitable. Unfortunately along with globalisation comes negative aspects, such as the economic impacts on developing countries and the processes of homogenisation and cultural appropriation. Despite there being many positive aspects of globalisation, these negative sides cannot be ignored.
My main concern is; will the future hold more positive outcomes of globalisation? Or will the negativity still exist? Only time will tell.
Edeos Digital Education 2011, Globalisation, video, YouTube, 24 October, viewed 12 August 2015, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oTLyPPrZE4>
O’Shaughnessy, M and Stadler, J 2008, ‘Globalisation’, Media and Society (fifth edition) Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 458-471.