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Chapter 19

New Society - Sixth Edition - Chapter 19.docx

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC101Y1
Professor
Adam Green
Semester
Winter

Description
SOCIOLOGY REVIEW CHAPTER 19: GLOBALIZATION INTRODUCTION:  It turns out the globalization has a lot to do with everyday events  Everyday events can be affected by global events like international trade agreements, European social movements, international labour migration, faraway protests, and global food scares  There is no consensus on the meaning of globalization  The term was coined in the late 1970s  A common tendency on both the left and the right of the political spectrum is to depict globalization in simplistic terms; for right-wing free-markets, globalization represents the welcome spread of capitalism throughout the world; for left-wing social activists and politicians, globalization is more like a death star  GLOBALIZATION is a social, economic and political process that makes it easier for people, goods, ideas and capital to travel around the world at an unprecedented pace  Globalization makes the world look and feel smaller  What is occurring is that people, money, corporations and ideas travel across the globe more quickly and efficiently than ever before  Distance no longer seems as relevant and time lags that used to characterize our social relations are diminished  One term for the shrinking world is TIME-SPACE COMPRESSION, which suggests that we are no longer slowed down by long distances and time differences; not only do we feel less constrained by time and distance, but some global phenomena seem to transcend the idea of physical space altogether  The internet has facilitated the creation of VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES (where people meet, share ideas, and build relationships across borders; never face-to-face)  There are also many instances where time still passes slowly, the limits of geography are still relevant, and people are excluded from virtual communities  Not all people and ideas have access to channels of globalization  Inequality of access to means of communication is known as the DIGITAL DIVIDE  Time-space compression can be traced back at least to the 1500s with the beginning of transoceanic European exploration  The world became smaller with the invention of the steamship and the locomotive  The pace of globalization has grown quickly since the 1980s  Understanding globalization as a series of processes connecting people, resources, and capital across the globe gets us away from seeing it as either a blessing or an evil  The consequences do affect human lives and the environment  Ethical debates surrounding globalization became particularly pronounced after 9/11; critics used the terrorist attacks as an opportunity to raise critical questions about the inequalities of global capitalism and the role of the US in the global system TOP-DOWN VERSUS BOTTOM-UP GLOBALIZATION:  TOP-DOWN = involves the actions of groups promoting globalized capitalism and free trade  the term was taken up in financial and business circles, where it came to represent hopes for a world where capital could flow freely around the world, uninhibited by national boundaries or governments  Top-down has been dominated by neoliberal economic policies which are prevalent in rich and poor countries since the 1980s  Neoliberal policies are associated with a retreat from state spending and regulation, a focus on individual responsibility for one’s own welfare, less protection for labour and the environment, privatization of state resources, and faith in the power of the market and the profit motive to create wealth  Top-down is strongly associated with the US due to its role promoting neoliberal policies globally through institutions like the International Monetary Fund, and World Bank which are headquartered in the US  GLOBALIZATION FROM BELOW = describes the actions of groups that criticize the injustices that result from globalization processes  The mass media frequently describe these groups as opposed to globalization, but many groups that criticize injustices resulting from globalization actually support particular types of globalization such as the spread of international human rights and global labour standards  In general, groups that support globalization from below advocate more democracy, environment protection, and social justice in the global system  Bottom-up globalizers are against neoliberal forms that put capital mobility and profits before people’s basic needs and they criticize the powerful economic, political and military influence of transnational corporations and the US government  How justice is achieved is unclear CAPITALISM IN GLOBALIZATION:  Money used for investment, currency trading, and so forth is FINANCIAL CAPITAL  Financial capital has grown much faster than production and trade  The rise of financial capital has been labelled “casino capitalism” since financial speculators stand to make or lose millions in short periods of time  The danger with casino capitalism is that investor speculation makes financial systems unstable (Example: the 1997 Asian financial crisis; the 2007-09 real estate market collapsing crisis in the US)  The rise of casino capitalism has been facilitated: - by the financial deregulation that has occurred under neoliberal regimes since the 1980s as governments gave up regulatory powers - is linked to the declining profits and overcapacity in the economy of goods and services; corporations are producing more things than the world’s consumers can afford to purchase (Example: in 2000, the automotive industry produced 80 million vehicles for fewer than 60 million buyers) - the 2007-09 US financial crisis demonstrated the overcapacity problem and the interpretation of global financial markets  the creation of a global economy has changed the way corporations look and operate; these conditions have made corporations leaner, meaner, bigger, more diverse in terms of the goods they produce, and more involved in complex financial dealings and investments throughout the world  to survive problems of overcapacity and economic slowdown, corporations have merged to trim operating costs (Example: Volvo and Ford)  today, transnational corporations find it hard to survive without diversifying into multiple goods in many countries, and this explains why the last decades have witnesses the greatest rate of mergers and consolidation in history  corporations have become bigger and more powerful than many national governments; of the largest 100 economies in the world, 51 are corporations and 49 are countries  big corporations do not pay big taxes; companies regularly play nations off one another, pressuring governments to lower taxes by threatening to move production to a more favourable location  corporations increasingly take advantage of global tax shelters, forcing governments to rely on taxes paid by less mobile individuals and small businesses  Canadian corporations have enjoyed big tax breaks, which they justify by their need to compete with low tax rates in the United States  Bottom-up globalizers have reacted to the growth of global corporations in various ways: - The 1990s saw the emergence of an anti-sweatshop movement in North America after poor working conditions in the garment industry were exposed  Corporations have responded to anti-corporate criticism as well: - Some have changed their name, diverting attention from their infamous brand - Others stem the tide of bad press through a growing movement for corporate social responsibility, in which corporations try to introduce best practices for labour and the environment  There is continued controversy over what is certified as responsible corporate behaviour and who is in control of the certification process  As corporations have grown in strength, some governments have lost ground, both to corporate power and to international institutions like the World Trade Organization FEATURES OF THE GLOBAL STATE SYSTEM (state power in globalization): 1) THE THREE SISTERS - Because of pressure to meet the demands of the IMF, World Bank and the WTO, some critics argue that states have become less oriented to meeting the demands of citizens which results in a DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT (in which ordinary citizens are disenfranchised from the process of governance; average citizens are not permitted to vote or influence decisions) - The IMF was established after WWII and its official role was to maintain the stability of the international monetary system - Since the 1980s, the IMF has begun to serve as the gatekeeper of the institutional financial system; loans are conditional on the lending government following a package of reforms (structural adjustment programmes) - IMF reforms require countries to deregulate capital markets, remove price subsidies, decrease social spending, orient the economy toward exports and privatize state-run industries - Many poor countries have witnessed massive protests against the IMF - The World Bank was established after WWII and its job was to make loans to help postwar reconstruction - As a condition of receiving loans, criteria had to be met as well - The World Bank has increased its collaboration with local non-governmental organizations - The WTO emerged in 1995 out of the Global Agreement on Tariffs Trade treaty; its job is to lower trade barriers and increase international trade and prosperity 2) AN AMERICAN EMPIRE - Some observers note that the age of globalization is also an age of more power for some states like the US - Critics accuse the US of acting like an empire - The US enjoys enough political, economic, and military power to make unilateral foreign policy decisions, adopt unorthodox economic policies, and maintain a global military presence BUT the US is also the world’s biggest debtor 3) GLOBAL INEQUALITY - There is a widening power gap between and within states - In the 1970s, analysts divided the world into three parts: first world (wealthy capitalist countries), the second world (communist bloc), and the third world (all the rest); the division is no inaccurate because the third world comprises an assortment of nations that don’t share common traits and the second world has for the most part collapsed - Now analysts refer to the division between the global north and the global south, or between developed and developing countries, or the majority world (poor and lacks social goods like housing, food, employment, and education) and the minority world (well-educated, access to jobs and public goods like health care) - The majority-minority distinction serves as a valuable reminder that state borders do not always indicate who benefits and suffers in a globalized economic s
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