What is globalization and how does it connect the world?

Listen to this article

Globalization is the process that has brought closer and connected markets, societies and cultures around the planet. The covid-19 crisis is a clear example: a virus that appeared in China gave way to a pandemic because the world is interconnected. The term was coined by American economist Theodore Levitt in 1983, but the origin of the phenomenon is unclear. Most consider that globalization began after the Second World War and that it has developed especially since 1980. However, there are those who believe that it began at the end of the 19th century, and even with the first overseas empires, between the centuries XV and XVI.

In any case, globalization has intensified since the 1980s due to advances in transportation and technology that facilitated the movement of goods, services, capital, information and people around the world. The development of commercial aviation, the standardization of shipping containers, and the invention of the internet connected countries even more. Meanwhile, neoliberal policies at the end of the 20th century caused national markets to reduce barriers to trade and open to the outside world. For this reason, globalization is above all economic, although it also has political, cultural and technological aspects. Hence, its agents are not only multinational companies and large financial organizations, but also States, cities and even individuals.

The faces of globalization

Of the four types of globalization—economic, political, cultural and technological—the first is the most advanced, thanks to liberalized and increasingly international trade. Countries have eliminated barriers such as tariffs and signed trade agreements to integrate economically. At the same time, multinationals move their activity to other countries to save costs, a phenomenon known as offshoring. Economic globalization has been followed by politics, with new organizations and standards of global reach, such as the UN, the WHO or international agreements on the use of nuclear energy.

Cultural globalization, for its part, has consisted of a greater exchange of values ​​and traditions between countries. For example, the international success of the African song Jerusalema in 2020 or international fashion shows, such as Paris Fashion Week, are the result of cultural globalization. Finally, in recent years, technological globalization has been added. More and more countries use the same technology, and societies are connected through the internet and social networks. Facebook, for example, has 2.74 billion users, 35% of the world’s population.

The world is now one

One of the main consequences of globalization has been the increase in global GDP. Today there is more wealth in the world and, in turn, the extreme poverty rate has decreased by 84% since 1980. This is mainly explained by the rise of emerging economies such as China, whose growth has lifted millions out of extreme poverty. of people. However, the increase in global GDP has not translated into greater equality between countries, quite the opposite: globalization also generates inequality. According to a study by the NGO Oxfam Intermón, since the beginning of the century only 1% of the world’s new wealth has gone to the poorest half of the population, while 50% of this new wealth has been received by the 1 % richer.

Another consequence of globalization is that the economic and geopolitical center of the world is shifting from the West to Asia, and China, along with other countries such as India, are emerging as a counterweight to the hegemony of the United States. As a consequence, the international community no longer has that single pole of power, but several.

Criticism and controversy

Globalization, however, also arouses criticism. For the middle and lower classes of developed countries it is equivalent to losing employment in the face of competition from products manufactured in countries with lower wages. This discontent contributed to the proliferation of anti-government parties and movements.establishment like the French National Front or the brexita reaction to the negative consequences of globalization.

On the other hand, there is a movement that criticizes the neoliberal nature of globalization, considering it an instrument of the United States to export its socioeconomic model and thus preserve its hegemony. Environmental organizations such as Greenpeace or WWF also denounce its environmental impact. According to them, the economic growth it generates also entails processes of deforestation, the extraction of natural resources in an unsustainable manner and the increase in the consumption of fossil fuels, which aggravate global warming.