Globalisation is a term that can be difficult to define, as a new definition can be found with almost every book, journal or article written on the subject, whether it is labelled as a process, a strategy or a phenomenon. Globalisation, loosely defined, is the growth of previously regional customs and traditions into other cultures or societies to a worldwide scale. It is essentially creating a ‘borderless world’, through facets such as economics, military, technology and culture. Globalisation can been seen as a process of ‘shrinking’ the world, to the point where product and knowledge exchange is instant no matter the distance between the sender and receiver. This essay aims to explore the definition, history, causes and impact of globalisation to gain a better understanding of the effects of globalisation on the world today.
There have been many suggestions raised as to the origins of globalisation, however it is widely acknowledged as a centuries -old occurrence. Over the past two centuries, there have been two major periods of globalisation evident, the first from the mid 1800’s to circa 1920, and the second occurring just in the past few decades, with the most recent period making a ‘rise in consciousness’ (Brick, in Halliwell & Morely 2008) due to the speed of the process. As Thomas Friedman says in regards to this second era of globalisation, ‘what is new today is the degree and intensity with which the world is being tied together into a single globalized marketplace. What is also new is the sheer number of people and countries able to partake of this process and be affected by it.’ (Friedman, 1999, p.xv)
This rapid increase can be credited to today’s advanced technology - one of the major contributors to globalisation. The transportation of goods, knowledge, money and even people can be almost instantaneous, and the cost is becoming more and more insignificant. Communications are advancing, for example a supplier in India is able to have a real-time conversation with consumer in Britain with little or no effort, providing the spread of consumer knowledge throughout the globe.
This ‘borderless world’ is opening up new opportunities for business, trade, travel and education. Tourists are now able to roam (almost) freely to locations previously shut off from the world, while students can apply for a university course while living away from their home country.[This has been the case for centuries. The paper needs to make clear what's different about the choices university students have now.] Businesses are able to operate in multiple countries, whether they are producing, selling or resourcing in different countries around the world. in that country. For example, a consumer in France can buy a PC from a company United States, which is dispatched from China, but call the support desk for help in India. This helps both the business, as they have a wider variety of resources, and the consumer, as there is more competition in the market to control pricing.
This supports the theory that globalisation is creating a shrinking world where ever-tightening network of connections is cutting across national boundaries, integrating communities in new ‘space-time combinations’. (Mowforth & Munt 2008, citing Hall, 1992)
The significant trigger for this current era of globalisation can be credited to events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. Friedman sums this theory up with symbolism from the era’s pre and post 1989: [undo paragraph break here]
‘The symbol of the Cold War system was a wall, which divided everyone. The symbol of the globalization system is a World Wide Web, which unites everyone.’ (Friedman 1999, p.9) [undo paragraph break here, too]
Thus, the fall of the dividing wall symbolised the opening of the borders, kick-starting a new era of globalisation, facilitated by technological advances.
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