SOC CHAPTER 9: GLOBALIZATION, INEQUALITY AND DEVELOPMENT
Globalization has transformed and improved the way we live—there is now a
rapid movement of capital, commodities, culture and people across national
o Despite this, inequality between nations is staggering. Many oppose
globalization because it is making the world more unequal and may be
hurting local cultures and the environment.
Some people say globalization is a form of imperialism (the economic
domination of one country by another) because it puts the entire world under
the control of powerful commercial interests.
Globalization also contributes to the homogenization of the world and cultural
domination—it is one thing for the world to have closer ties but another for less
developed countries to become like the West.
Global commodity chain: is a worldwide network of labour and production
processes whose end result is a finished commodity.
o Ex. Nike’s global commodity chain (or web of global social relations)
includes high wage management, finance, design and marketing in the
developed world and low wage manufacturing in less developed
countries (in Vietnam, Nike workers make 20 cents an hour and a $100
pair of shoes costs 37 cents in labour costs). Buyers purchasing these
products cause these social relations to persist.
The sociological imagination allows us to link our biography with history and
social structures, and globalization extends the range of that linkage, connecting
to global history and global social structures.
Sources of Globalization:
o Technology: technological progress has changed global communications
and transportation, which made globalization possible.
o Politics: politics determines the level of globalization—we have the
technological means to reach and interact with all countries, but politics
is the reason we have strong relations with some countries and no
relations with others (ex. South Korea vs. North Korea).
o Economics: transnational corporations are the most important agents of
globalization in the world today, and they are different from regular
corporations because they are:
Relying on foreign labour/production as opposed to domestic
They emphasize skills and advances in design, technology and
They sell to the world market
They depend on massive ad campaigns
They are autonomous from national governments These three factors often work together—ex. Economics and politics working
together to break down trade barriers to allow the sale of American cigarettes
worldwide (pg. 2)
Consequences of globalization: Is it making the whole world look like the United
o Should the West intervene to stop non-democratic forces and human
rights abuses abroad? Samuel Huntington argues that the West should
not be ethnocentric and impose their values on others, but critics say
that ideals of democracy and human rights are found in non-Western
cultures (ex. respect for sacredness of human life) so it isn’t an
Globalization homogenizes societies—the IMF and World Bank impose on
developing countries guidelines that will model them after the advanced
industrial countries. And in the UN, Western ideals (democracy, representative
government) are seen as good government.
McDonaldization: the process by which the principles of the fast food restaurant
are coming to dominate across the world” – it extends Weber’s concept of
rationalization (the application of the most efficient means to achieve given
ends). The values if fast food—efficiency, calculability, and predictability—have
spread to all spheres of life.
Symbolic interactionism would argue that the world is not becoming more
homogenized because a central principle of symbolic interactionism is that
people create their own social circumstances and don’t just react to them—they
negotiate their identities and would not easily accept an identity imposed by
o They believe what is happening is glocalization: the simultaneous
homogenization of some aspects of life and the strengthening of some
local differences under the impact of globalization (ex. how McDonalds in
Israel serve kosher burgers and McDonalds in India sell vegetarian
Regionalization: the division of the world into different and often competing
economic, political and cultural areas—for example, world trade is not equal and
is broken into 3 main blocs (Asia—dominated by Japan and China, Europe—
dominated by Germany, and the American bloc—dominated by the USA).
Anti-Globalization and Anti-Americanism:
o Political scientist Benjamin Barber argued that globalization (the making
of the “McWorld”) was generating an anti-globalization reaction—jihad
(Islamic fundamentalism). An example of this is 9/11, when al-Qaeda
operatives sought to roll back the forces of globalization by attacking the
global reach of the godless American capitalism.
o 1999 WTO protest in Seattle, 2001 anti-American integration protests in
Quebec City—this shows globalization was not universally welcome. Some over-exaggerate globalization—national borders/the nation-state are still
very important, many developing countries are still poorly integrated, cultural
differences remain substantial, many people is less advantaged regions have no
access to advanced technology.
Is Globalization a new phenomenon?
o Anthony Giddens (1990) argues globalization is not recent and was picked
up as the result of industrialization & modernization in the late 19h
century (at this time, people could move freely across borders without
o WWI and WWI undermined globalization because they incited racism,
protectionism and military buildup. Trade plummeted between 1914-
o Archeological remains show trade began 5000 years ago, and people
have been migrating across countries or continents for years.
o Textbook view: globalization is roughly a 500 year old phenomenon, as
this is when colonialism (the control of developing societies by more
developed, powerful societies) and capitalism began.
Development and Underdevelopment:
The UN calls the level of worldwide inequality “grotesque”—citizens of the 20
richest countries spend more on cosmetics or alcohol or ice cream or pet food
than it would take to provide basic education, or water and sanitation, or basic
nutrition for everyone in the world.
If you define inequality as the difference between the average income of rich
and poor countries, inequality has grown since the 1950s. But if you weigh very
populous countries as more, inequality has decreased (because China, India,
Brazil began to prosper).
o Country averages disregard the fact that poor people live in rich countries
and vice versa—so it makes more sense to examine income inequality
among individuals rather than countries.
o Most of the desperately poor are women
o The absolute number of people on less than $1 a day peaked in 1950 and
then started declining (percentage fell from 84% in 1820 to less than 20%
Modernization theory (a functionalist approach): holds that economic
underdevelopment results form poor countries lacking Western attributes,
including Western values, business practices, levels of investment capital, and
o Global inequality is a result of the dysfunctional characteristics of the
poor countries—they lack rationality in business, they lack investment
capital, they lack Western-style governments, and they lack a Western
mentality (values of high achievement, innovation, education, etc.)
o Rich countries need to eliminate the dysfunctions by transferring their
culture and capital to poor countries. Dependency Theory (a conflict theory): views economic underdevelopment as a
result of exploitative