The term globalization is widely used when discussing contemporary global issues. However, what is the definition of this term? Many scholars have defined globalization in a different way yet only a few have provided a concise definition. Richard J. Payne has defined globalization as to shrinking distances among its continents, a wider geographical sense of vulnerability, and a worldwide interconnectedness of important aspects of human life. (Payne 2009, p.9-10). Anthony Giddens refers to the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa (Giddens 1990, p.21). From these definitions, it is clear that globalization is a process that is driving forward towards the course of deepening links that exists amongst the persons from different societies. It is with the concept of globalization that the relations in international political economies are forged, with links between politics and markets being created.
Globalization is often contended by many to have begun when the worlds continents started interacting in a manner that that linked them globally. These continents were connected through trades, cultures, and ecologies. For example, in his book, Environmental History in the Pacific World, John R. McNeill argues that in the year 1571, Spain founded Manila as an entry port that connected Americas to Asia (McNeill, 2001, p.19-20). This historical event continued to evolve to the modern day global systems as seen in the technological advances. The speed of production and the exchanges of good in the 18th century saw an increased interaction amongst the worlds population yielding social and ecological transformations of sufficient profundity as depicted by Alfred Cosby (1986).
The recent history of globalization evolved in three phases, with each step coming with different cause or effects.
The first phase of globalization lasted in the period of 1807 to 1914 at the start of World War I during this period; there were activities of the large infrastructural developments and new technological advances such as the invention and development of the telegraph. This period also witnessed the rapid growth of industries and corporations mainly in the United States and Europe. This was due to the advances in the mining sector, therefore, the need to develop a structural system of doing things to maximize the profits, starting from mining, transportation on the railways and by seaways. The increased rates of production in both Europe and the United States was also featured in this period, with massive developments in the industrial sectors and development of motorized engines. This led to the advances in transportation and reduction of trade barriers thereby increasing the levels of exports in the world. The international trade boom was stimulated by this.
The second phase of globalization emerged after the World War II lasting for thirty years to the 1980s. This wave was mainly centered on the integration of the Western developing countries in the North America and Europe with the inclusion of Japan. Trade relations were fostered through series of multilateral trade liberalization. There was a significant development in the fields of computer technology, aircraft, medical, and telecommunication technologies such the use of the internet. The countries who participated in these trades saw a surge in their economies, while the isolated nations who had been isolated from the integration trading only on their primary commodity exports
The last phase in the history of globalization started in 1985 to the present times. It was mainly stimulated by a combination of the advances in the communication and transportation technologies and by extent the developing countries who had sought foreign investments by opening up to international trade.
Globalization is considered as the most striking developments in world affairs in the 21st century. In fact, globalization made the world economies to be more interconnected and more interdependent than had been seen in world history. It is however imperative to comprehend that the earlier concept of globalization was brought down crashing in a dramatic manner a result of the effects of world war one. Moreover, there were other effects of First World War such as the ripple effects of the great Depression and the Second World War. As a result of the First World War, the world economy did not recover until the 1990s. In terms of the Second World War, globalization could be considered as the one of the key factors to support the war for such a long time. Apart from increasing industrialization, urbanization, creation of new technologies, globalization also increases power. As power increases, money also increases and it is through money that one can be able to achieve all sorts of goals and ambitions. Although globalization is a powerful concept in the creation of world economies, it is vital to note that globalization can also be destructive. The Second World War is an example of how globalization can be destructive. During the Second World War, there was an uncountable numbers of deaths, places, properties and countries. The First World War was responsible for creating instability in Europe. Moreover, it also led to the Second World War The impact of globalization cannot be understated. Thanks to great technological advances, the concept of globalization has become a greater reality. There are however pros and cons of globalization.
One great pro of globalization is that it broadens access to services and goods. It is often difficult to argue against the point that globalization is responsible for creating or opening access to many services and goods to many people worldwide and at cheaper prices. If one has some disposable income, and are in a position that they can purchase products from abroad, then to some extent they are participating from globalization to a certain extent. Moreover, business owners also benefit by having a larger market to their products in the international market.
The second advantage of globalization is that it increases cultural awareness. Through globalization, there is an increased cross cultural comprehension and sharing. This is because a globalized society boosts the rate at which individuals are exposed to the attitudes, culture, and values of individuals in different countries. The exposure of globalization can inspire different artists, dampen xenophobia and strethen ties between different countries.
The third advantage of globalization is that technology and information can spread more easily. Culture and technology are not the only instances that can spread more easily as a result of a globalized society. Technology and information can also be spread in the same spirit. A good instance is the rise of mobile banking in Kenya. Such inspirational stories such as micro lending mobile banking in Kenya can inspire civil society groups to look for services and other forms of technology that can be spread easily.
Through globalization, labor can move more freely.
Alfred W. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986, p.271.
John R. McNeill (ed.), Environmental History in the Pacific World, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001, p.19-20
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