Globalization and Sociopolitics
Globalization has been defined as “a series of inter-related changes in the meaning and uses of space and time in day-to-day life, increased possibilities for social interconnectedness across traditional geographic or political boundaries, and the speed, frequency, and consequences of such interconnections for cultures, communities, and individual identities” (Collins, 2005, p. 304). The globalization of technology and our technologically-based world is obvious. Computers, the Internet, satellites, cell phones, jet airplanes, container cargo transport, along with other technological systems, have contributed to the rise of global business and media networks (Herzfeld, 2009, p. 126). No part of the world is immune to globalization, to flattening, and no country can develop its society, economy, or technology in isolation. The world has grown more and more interdependent and is awash with opportunities to play in a leveled global economic field that enables “more people than ever, from more places than ever to take part in the global economy—and, in the best of cases, to enter the middle class” (Friedman, 2008, p. 29). Strategic alliances may emerge but “only unprecedented levels of international cooperation” can solve global problems and the thorny issues raised by international politics Rachman, 2011, p. 212).
Then, too, as we observe, globalization presents countries with formidable political challenges. Many domestic political battles about health care and energy are already being waged on a number of fronts. The larger political battle, however, entails maintaining popular support for open economies, especially in an era when many people’s incomes are stagnating or decreasing (Shapiro, 2008, p. 318). At the most far-reaching levels, increased globalization has produced widespread economic disparity between industrialized and developing nations. Friedman (2000) contends that developing countries have fallen behind in the age of globalization “not because globalization failed them, but because they failed to put in place even the minimum political, economic and legal infrastructure to take advantage of globalization….Nations don’t fail to develop per se,” he states, “they fail to develop good government” (pp. 356-357).
Technologies can be used to demarcate the haves from the have nots, and they can reveal the cooperative and antagonistic roles played out by politicians, citizens, secular participants, members of commercial and state media, among other constituents, agents, and stakeholders (Hartmann, 2010, p. 99). Some have argued that networks themselves are key to how we solve sociopolitical problems and organize all parts of social life, because “networks epitomize the shift from state-based ‘government’ to multilayered ‘governance’….and facilitate the emergence of non-state authorities in global politics” (Flyverbom, 2010, p. 427). Others have predicted quite accurately that “the 800 million population of America and Europe is at the point of being out-produced, out-manufactured, out-exported, and even out-invested by the billions of people in Asia and the rest of the world” (Brown, 2010, p. 209).
Accompanying this shift of power from West to East are new forces reshaping the international order. Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times, paints a bleak picture of these strains: the emergence of global political problems, such as climate change, terrorism, and global economic imbalances; the faltering and controversial drive for new forms of global governance; the new confidence of the world’s authoritarian powers—in China and Russia; and the threat of a new wave of failed states. Each of these forces exerts pressure, particularly on the United States of America. By contrast, Friedman (2000), along with others, presents a more moderate view of the paradigm shift, arguing that “Democratizing…