Globalization and Cultural & Political Impacts

Introduction

The transformation of social geography marked by the growth of super territorial spaces is termed globalization while culture can be conceptualized as the common or shared system of beliefs, traditions, and attitudes that shape a particular peoples’ perception and behavior. Globalization has had an impact not only in the economic, political but also social and traditional aspects. The way various systems have been working towards the merging of economies and political regions together and how different regions and political divides could gain more freedom in becoming individualized entities, other systems tend to work to either result in individualized culture but more importantly, globalization has not left these individualized entities untouched. The study on the globalization of culture helps us to understand whether the world is moving to one culture or whether it is remaining segregated. The study would help us to understand more the importance of channels of distribution of popular cultures and why they need to exist or not exist. There has been an interest to study how local cultures are influenced by globalization, consumption of popular culture, and the impacts of this consumption. The impact of globalization on the local cultures has grown interested among various authors. In this paper, I seek to analyze how the local cultures are affected by globalization, and also their effects on globalization. Globalization has arisen through the ideologies of the world order and has increased “global compression” (Roland, 1992; 18).

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Background

While globalization in the economic and political field has sought to achieve desired common benefits, the spread of different cultures seems to also advance through similar routes where people are willing to consume certain cultures regardless of their sources, to become better and live better. The spread of different cultures throughout the world appears to be driven by the benefits of consumption, either intentionally or unintentionally. Consumption of popular cultures has had adverse effects on local cultures through the change of behavior over time through the adoption of particular ideas and behaviors, as well as the decay of the existing cultures and rich traditions in the local setup. The role of the media as a channel of distribution of popular cultures cannot be overemphasized. With the advance in technology over time, popular cultures are no longer largely learned through travels and holidays, but at home through the television, radio, and the internet. Therefore, it has become easier to learn different cultures being practiced throughout the world and thus the take-up has increased with increased consumption of these channels of distribution.

Culture and Globalization

Culture is created through the interaction of many social factors. These include the individual’s sexuality, class, race, and gender among others. Culture also arises as a result of the historic play of political, economic, and social factors (Clarke, et al., 1976; Williams, 1958; Hall, 1980; cited in Kofman, & Gillian, 1998; 319) and is dynamic. Culture can change according to time and space and therefore has been termed as static and non-fixed. There has been consideration that place and spatiality plays a role in the formation of culture which in turn constructs space (Jackson, 1989; cited in Kofman, & Gillian, 1998; 319). Local culture is characteristic of daily face-to-face relationship of a people within a bounded space, and who indulge in day to day activities. These people have common habitual and repetitive, taken-for-granted issues they engage in relating to, “rituals, symbols and ceremonies” and a common sense of the past (Featherstone, 1993, 176; cited in Kofman, & Gillian, 1998; 322).

Most of the illustration on globalization, courses of global change and the global theory has been drawn from the Western experience. Homogeneity may be touted as the greatest benefit of globalization but it is only one of the results of globalization. Although globalization may result to “homogeneity”, people also get to become “familiar with greater diversity” (Featherstone, 1993; 169; cited in Kofman, & Gillian, 1998). Homogeneity as a result of globalization may be perceived in the context of economic-where key players include the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-and political ideologies, but these also have resulted to certain cultures. In addition, such and other institutions, political movements and social movements have conceptualized the Western cultures and values as being or supposed to be the universal one in a world of many cultures and images. They have therefore led to transmission-in one way or the other-of cultures and values they perceive to be models because they do not only stick to their areas of specialization such as financial matters, but that they seek to dictate and have a say in other matters such as dictate political systems in various countries.

The transformation of social geography marked by growth of supraterritorial spaces is termed globalization and involves the coexistence of supraterritoriality and territoriality in a complex interrelation (Scholte, 2009; 8). Although globalization may be challenged as resulting to change of many systems in the social, political and economic aspects, it has not displaced deeper social structures in relation to knowledge (rationalism), community, governance and production. It has resulted to the change in economic efficiency and the change in the range of available products in the economic aspect, decentralization of power within political systems, and “regeneration of culture” (Scholte, 2009; 9). However, neoliberal policies of globalization have resulted in worse crisis even in areas where it would have sought to excel. In particular, democratic deficits and widened arbitrary inequalities have been realized, workers in various parts been faced by deteriorated working conditions, cultural violence, persistent poverty and ecological degradation. The impacts of globalization on the young people is interesting and research needs to be carried more on lived experiences of youth and youth culture (Mercello & Desirée, 2004; 205).

Cultural Impacts of Globalization

When globalization forces takes control of the local cultures, the result is the ability of locals to loosing control over the decision-making processes and instead these processes may be controlled by the market and administrative rationalities held by “transcultural professionals and experts”, as well as the national elites. The latter decide the fate of the locality (Featherstone, 1993; 177; cited in Kofman, & Gillian, 1998; 323). This has been indicated by the decisions made by the aforementioned elite and powerful people pertaining issues that the local culture would be against. These issues relates to land, ceremonies and ownership of other property and rights. An example is the Montserrat, Caribbean, where land was taken as a common good and was used for purposes of grazing, but the government and the Montserrat Company began to sell land to people from the USA and Canada, hence they decided the fate of the local culture of the people (Kofman, & Gillian, 1998; 323). Local cultures have time and again been decided against the will of the locals in favor of international ideologies and decisions that are perceived by the elites to be better. The elites may again shape democratization through the emphasis of certain characteristics of culture (Compton, 2000; 29). The importance of the land in the culture of these people has been indicated to be a means through which they could see themselves as free and connected to their ancestors, and a “collective memory of the misery and inhumanity of slavery” and exploitation of the people in the past (Kofman, & Gillian, 1998; 323). With time, rules and regulations allowing impounding of animals found in the sold lands emanated and because land for grazing was decreasing and people were selling animals, the importance of animal stocking as a traditional means of livelihood has been lost. Globalization has led to social disruption by altering the character of the society. While consumer cultures and capitalism have penetrated subsistence economies, nuclear families have on their part have resulted to extended families and traditional communities (Stalker, 2004; 100). Social disruption has been evidenced by the changing cultures as a result of exposure to mediated Western cultures, where the media, such as the television and the internet have played a pivotal role (Stalker, 2004; 100). Globalization has also increased social movements (Featherstone, 1990; 53)

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Globalization of the economy has resulted in the focus of importance of employment, banking, civil service and insurance, among other issues. This was a shift from the focus in many local areas who found importance in traditional forms of livelihood such as farming and cattle rearing. The focus on the economic aspects such as banking, civil service, employment and insurance, for example, has resulted in movement of people from the local rural areas to urban centers which has disrupted the traditional set up of people’s common and united lifestyle and a sense of family hood. More over, professional women have been “physically, educationally and behaviorally” separated from their rural to urban and suburb circles (Kofman, & Gillian, 1998; 325). This has made them attain experience of globalization, as well as become integrated into the global economy. With this, has come the detachment from the local cultures because they loose importance, or that they become too busy to participate. In some parts of the world, the traditional cultural practices, rituals, and ceremonies do not garner support because people are busy in the more modernized economic activities. This has led to decline in the value of the practices and ceremonies or rituals that are very important in maintenance of the local culture. More importantly, the traditional fueling of these cultural practices from the older to younger generation has been challenged by focus in participation of the young in more recently adorned economic and political activities, mostly of the Western tastes. These economic and political activities have been focused more by education, which has also led many to believe that some cultural practices are primitive. In addition, systems of governance have emphasized professionalism in addition to experience. Professionalism is perceived in the context of one’s educational qualities and attainment. Therefore, traditional set-ups of governance that were important in the maintenance of local cultures have lost importance and so it has become difficult to advance these cultures because they need protection and mass support. Globalization, with its ideologies of free movement and free investment has led to people loosing what they perceived as “family” or cultural property and this has diluted the importance of local culture. All in all, what seems to have won the day is the focus on generally accepted ideologies of governance, education and economy, that by intention or not, have challenged the traditional systems either through replacement or upgrading.

The dehumanize nature of the effects of globalization on the local staff has resulted to the exploitation of the masses through denial of access to the local property and facilities they perceive to be culturally important. This is because globalization has come up with the rules regarding not only the freedom of traveling of individuals to any designated part of the world, but also occupying in these areas. Globalization has been advanced through economic, political and social movements which emphasize the need for common good. Population movement has been favored by globalization as well as multiplication of modernities (Eliezer & Yitzhak, 2002; 12).These integrates to form authoritative channels through which they seek to enforce rules and regulations in terms of agreements and pacts. Once governments sign up or commit to these, they accept interference of mostly political and economic nature, and there are organized institutions meant to do this. Governments, which may be perceived as being composed of elites and transculturally professional individuals, have embraced these rules and laws because of the attached economic or political benefits their countries achieve, with little realization or neglect on what cultural damage they have invited. The ideas of common good have evolved in economic aspects in focus of the need to eliminating trade barriers amongst nations as well as offering free market access to products from member countries. This has challenged the traditional view within the local set up, first and foremost the very initial media of exchange, patterns of consumption, what is consumed and diversification of products. The media that fueled local culture has also not been left untouched through the “international influences and institutions, by multinational capital and technology, by global popular norms and values” (Diana, Nobuko, & Kenichi, 2002; 9).

Economic impacts of globalization

Economic globalization has resulted in a new geography of power according to Scholte, who also thinks that it is wrong to view economic globalization as having brought “declining significance for the national states” (Scholte, 2009; 5). Territorial power in the context of economic globalization has been achieved through the ascendance of a “new legal regime for governing cross-border economic transactions” through the power of the institutions. Territorial power in this respect is importance to curtail the adverse effects of mutually exclusive states and protect the conduct of diplomacy (Scholte, 2009; 4) Economic globalization has resulted in the transaction of business across borders because of advance in telecommunications and other computerized networks, as well as economic integration. Termed as the flow of labor and capital, new systems are supportive not only of the need to collaboratively do business, but also overcome barriers of business through technology. Evolution of new business equipment and processes or the harnessing of the power presented by technology has partly come as a result of need to overcome economic barriers presented by traditional ways of doing business. These barriers include large labor and operational costs, time wasting and lack of labor. The power of technology to empower the companies to venture more and more into cross-border interaction and business cannot be overemphasized. Companies have moved to outsourcing of employees across the national borders. Various global companies are no longer restricted to invest in the local environment. The adverse effects of cross-border operations and business have been considered. There have been arguments by activists that flow of labor has resulted or is a means of exploiting low-wage workers in the Third-World nations. In addition, complains have arose pertaining low-levels of employment in the home countries of multinational corporations that source labor elsewhere as outsourcing labor can be viewed as exportation of jobs. The impact of transfer of workers physically to other nations has also been felt, with some countries experiencing large levels of immigrants, some of which may be perceived as sources of upheavals and crime in these countries. The negative impacts of globalization in the economic perspectives have been debated.

Globalization, through the processes that are integral to it, has intensified the disruption brought about by modernization and capitalist development. Developing nations have had to incur more debt rises as well as receive the worst shocks of sharp rises in oil prices. Countries have ended up I wrong or hard commitments through the influence to receive financial support from the IMF and the World Bank. For example, countries in the sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America once received loans from the World Bank with a strict condition of restructuring their economies along free-market lines ( Stalker, 2004;98). Some of these moves have been against the traditionally established economic cultures and have posited new challenges to the countries to manage the commitments or their effects. Some commitments such as opening the market for multinational corporations have resulted in the competition of local industries from stronger multinational corporations resulting to their collapse or dormancy. An example is the case of developing nations which do not have as equally competitive industries compared to developed nations. Multinational companies take advantage of the opened markets to exploit local companies because they are able to offer similar products at cheaper prices because, for example, their cost of production is not as high. The nationals for these countries have ended up suffering because of lack of employment since some of the multinationals bring in staff from their countries, reserve top managerial positions for their citizens or exploit the local people in terms of sourcing for labor.

Individual nations sometimes are made to compromise their stand through theorization of globalization. These ideologies sometimes stress the importance of cutting on governmental expenditure which leads to unemployment and reduced support for improving social amenities, which may translate to poor health and poor living standards.

Political Impact of Globalization

Globalization has resulted to emergence of supranational organizations as well as territorial organizations that have in turn reigned over individual states who are members (Sassen, 1996; 3). An example of these supranational organizations is the League of Nations which could a times involve in activities viewed as protecting minority rights. National governments are required to be accountable, according to Sassen, to two quasi-legal realms, namely the series of codes and institutions and the global capital market which have grown in the international human right regime. One of the political impacts of globalization has been to achieve peace and this has greatly been achieved. Due to continued emphasis on globalization activities discouraging military conflicts and warfare between nations, countries have been able to maintain calm between one another. An example, is the domination of peace and non-indication of any likelihood of arise of “armed conflict” between states in the North America, European Union and East Asia due to large globalization efforts among the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) states (Scholte, 2009; 208-209). Multilateral treaties have increased the possibility of control of arms such as those restricting the testing and deployment of nuclear war heads. Peace is very important for the retention as well as the harmonious transfer of culture. Hence, to some extent, because peace has been maintained through globalization, activities which take place between nations have been proceeding, hence encouraging the retention of cultures in individual countries. This is because war and disruption of activities may have adverse effects to families and community dislocations hence leading to cultural interferences. In addition, transference of culture across communities has been encouraged by the peace prevailing amongst them nations because people can travel across borders and learn from others. The spread of nuclear weapons to more state arsenals was hampered, to some success, by the establishment of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) through IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) (Scholte, 2009; 209). In addition, the trade of arms has been to some extent been hampered by global efforts to fight against it. This has helped in that communities in the local set up have not been disrupted leading to negative cultural impacts. In addition, means of conflict management have been opened up by suprastate governance according to Scholte (2009; 209).

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Conclusion

Globalization cannot be perceived as being totally bad or good. Globalization has led to productive as well as destructive results and therefore must be given a two-prong analysis. It has resulted to economic benefits such as opening of the markets on a global perspective, and this has helped players in the market to garner more profits if they can compete wisely. Globalization through integrations has provided for economic corporations between countries, and this has enabled country residents to have access to diverse products. It has led to transfer of labor and capital across the borders. On the political perspective, globalization has resulted to authoritative organizations and territoriality where organizations demand the individual nations to be responsible to them. This has helped in controlling diplomacy, a situation that would be worse in cases of mutually exclusivity of nations. In addition, globalization can be applauded because its ideologies have contributed to peace among nations. In the social perspective, globalization has led to the opening up of the society to other cultures consumed elsewhere in the world. This has encouraged individual rather than popular opinion. People have been able to learn from other communities by considering their cultures and comparing it with theirs. Globalization has however led to disruption of economies by introducing competition through the idea of open markets. Countries have been forced into commitments that prove to be difficult afterwards when they enter integrations for perceived economic and political gains. Disruption of traditional set up of the society like family set ups has occurred as a result of the elites and transculturally professional, controlling the culture of the locals. This has led to denial of the local even to access what they considered as “common property” and objects of cultural importance. Globalization has encouraged freedom of mobility and settling of people to where they like, and hence this has resulted to disruption of the local culture set up because sometimes the locals are shielded from cultural freedom pertaining property they have been enjoying. Globalization has resulted to modernized economies, a shift from subsistence economies and family members have moved to urban centers in search of jobs and faced global economy integration.

Globalization has had worst effects on some people or cultures more than others, whether in the economic, political or social respect because it is fueled by largely influential organization that manifest as fighting for the common good. Unfortunately, the basic ideologies and point of views supported by the world organizations and bodies appear to be that of the western world, and they are implanted as fitting even to the developing nations. The mode of fueling these ideologies is unwelcome because sometime it manifest as coercive and with attached hidden agenda because of the support these organizations drive from the developed world. In essence, whether political or economic bodies, it is difficult for all nations to have equal contribution and likewise equal influence by them. Differences have arisen on many of the ideologies used to fuel globalization, with arguments that they are unfair, and one-sided. In such, globalization has also led to problems such as difficulties in peace agreements and economic discontents. If applied responsibly, globalization can lead to more benefits in the future. There is need for careful consideration of the adverse and good results of globalization so as to come with modalities towards increasing the benefits and reducing the problems. Globalization is set to influence the world more in political (in respect to regional integration to achieve such benefits as common peace and fight certain trends such as terrorism), social (in respect to advancement of technology or technological change and increasing connectivity (Nederveen, 2009; 9)) and economic aspects (in respect to the power of cross-border trade fostered by more technological advancement and cooperation among states). Globalization is an idea which is largely based on the influence by people upon people, and therefore appropriate policies must be debated as pertaining what, where and how to achieve integral benefits and reduce the problems already presented by it.

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