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SOCI 210 (61)
Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Inequality Between Nations/Globalization

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McGill University
Sociology (Arts)
SOCI 210
Yasmin Bayer

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 boundaries. 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 management  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 States? 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 imposition.  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 others. 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 burgers).  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 passports). o WWI and WWI undermined globalization because they incited racism, protectionism and military buildup. Trade plummeted between 1914- 1945. 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% today).  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 stable government. 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
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