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Globalization has attracted many different explanations and definitions across different countries and cultures; however, it simply entails consolidation of people together through communication, trade, and transportation.
These factors resulting into globalization positively encourage economic growth of many countries in the world hence reducing dependency of some countries on others. The development of trade encourages investments hence propel wide movement of people, goods, ideas and capital leading to economic growth and development.
Globalization aims at developing a world whereby people live freely without limitations of borderlines between states with citizens enjoying the privilege of sharing skills, goods, services, and cultures.
Globalization has also led to the acquisition of new technology thus increasing the speed of delivery of goods and services to the citizens. In addition, globalization means an enlarged market resulting to high business profit accruing from investments.
Thus, globalization results into creation of wealth thereby alleviating poverty in many countries of the world. Individual countries’ infrastructure and policies can limit the interaction and integration of the citizen with others from outside.
Therefore, these factors can greatly influence economic growth either positively or negatively. On the other hand, scholars use theories to explain globalization not only on political and economic points of view but also on cultural and social dimensions.
Theories of globalization
Theories put forward to explicate globalization differ in the point of view each focuses on and the conclusions drawn. These theories include the world culture theory and the world system theory. The focus of the world culture theories is on the constriction of the world and increases the knowledge that depicts the world as a whole. According to Roland (1991), “… in thought and action, it makes the world a single place” (p. 24).
This affirms the intention of the theory to consolidate or pull together the world’s system to become a single place. This means that, different societies and cultures live together integrated in a single place in this case the world and therefore people share cultures, social activities and many other humankind activities.
In reference to the world culture theory, globalization stems from the creation and establishment of the international communication and transport networks that has increased good relationship among societal and social boundaries.
Critics of this theory argue that, globalization through compression and consolidation of the world to a single place aims at creating a single world order (Tomadj 1993, p. 21). According to the critics, a single world order develops towards single domination of organizations and presentation of human interests as a whole.
These encounters can lead to cultural conflicts in a globalized community or society. The world culture theory retains its focus and knowledge of developing a single place for all people to live together harmoniously. In this case, globalization propels the dissolution of autonomy cultures and advocates for creation of a single world culture.
This poses the problem of cultural conflicts among different cultures in the globalized society or community as each community pushes for distinction of its culture as they take part in the global world. On the other hand, this calls for emulation, sharing and imitation of cultures from the others as they coexist in the single world created.
World system theory
The theory of world systems focuses on the economic sphere and division of labor in the world’s countries with social systems operating in distinct rules. Wolf (2004) notes, “A world system is an historical social system of interdependent parts that form a bounded structure and operates according to distinct rules” (p. 34).
A unit in these systems comprise of multiple cultures with a single division of labor. The linking factor between these units is economic growth and development.
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This theory emphasizes on the nations other than states and as a result, it forms three categories of the nations dependent on the labor division and the economic development level. The wealthy and economically advanced nations are the core nations and the less economically developed nations being the periphery nation.
Those nations in the transition between the core and the periphery nations make the semi periphery category. A major limitation to this theory is that it assumes that all cultures have a similar trend of economic development in all countries. Other cultural factors also do retard or favor economic development.
The nations contain social and ethnic groups, which provide cheap labor to the production of merchandize used in the economic sector. Wallerstein (1995) views that, the core nations dominate the production industries and have strong government systems (p. 16).
The core nations in addition, buy raw materials from the periphery nation at much less price than what they ask for, for their exported goods. The state of dominance of the core nation over the others allots some benefits to the core nation.
These benefits include access to large volumes of raw materials, cheap labor, expanded market, and influx of professionals from other noncore nations. This phenomenon leads to capitalist economy whereby a class of private organizations controls the economy in production and market command.
Due to the intensified quest for economic development, acquisition of new technology and modern systems of trade eroded the traditional methods of trade business transactions, which were slower as compared to the current systems.
Although these two theories differ in many areas especially on the point and issues of focus, they do have some unique similarities.
On both theories, the need of centralizing people together on activities related to trade and economic growth remain identical. Warwick (2006) observes that, “Modern communication has spread awareness of differences between countries necessitating the immigration to other richer countries” (p.541).
This implies that communication helps in the sharing of opportunities and ideas, which leads to sound decision-making where people decide to migrate to other countries, with better economic prowess than their countries.
Borderless countries or creation of a single place as proposed by the world culture theory encourages the free movement of people.
On both cases, infrastructure places a major role in facilitating the development and maintenance of globalized society. Free flow of people, goods, information, and technology ease the establishment of global world where people can access goods and services easily and exchange ideas with others swiftly.
In the world culture theory, creation of single place depends on the availability of infrastructure such as good communication and transport systems facilitating the transfer of information, skills, ideas, and services. It further facilitates sharing of cultures among different regions in the world.
To the surprise of Jurgen (2005), “Globalization sets up opportunities and challenges in sharing goods, services, ideas, knowledge, and culture” (p.112).
The opportunities created in both theories concern opportunities related to economic growth and expansion where integration of people, nations and cultures create rich markets for goods and services produced by the nations in the globalized societies.
The challenges faced concern the differences in social and cultural backgrounds of the units involved in the globalization systems. There exist concerns on language differences in interactions and communication as well. These challenges cut across in both theories.
In both theories, there is levitation of poverty from the society through intensification of trade and economic growth. Globalization leads to job creation through investment of the high profits realized from the trade.
Thus, members of the globalized society enjoy liberalized job markets and can get employment from any country. This in turn results into wealth creation. Increased wealth leads to ease access to health facilities, good sanitation, clean water, and food thus prolonging life expectancy.
As is the case with technology, sharing of technological skills has drastically improved the rate of service delivery in both theories leading to the attainment of each theory’s objectives or aims.
As Jurgen (2005) further observes, “Improved technology has dramatically reduced costs and prices changing the way world communicates, learns and treats illness” (p.211). Technology acquisition among the members of a globalized society improves their communication, learning skills thus eradicating illiteracy from their countries.
Education empowers the citizens of these countries to become self-reliable and self-sustenance, an achievement that reduces individual’s reliance on aid from elsewhere.
In addition, in both theories there is international movement of people, which in other words denotes recognition, and appreciation of diversity of cultures.
In this context, there is respect for cultural identities and improvement in cultural democracies in the globalized society giving way to accessibility of the human rights by all members of the global society. When people or citizens enjoy their democratic rights then their participation to the economic, social, and political growth is almost possible.
Though the globalization theories share over whelming similarities they also do have some major outstanding differences, which include among others the areas of their focus in the pursuit of expounding what globalization entails.
The two theories bear distinct points of focus with the world culture theory focusing on creating a single place for all people regardless of economic status, culture, or religion to enjoy living together, trading and market expansion allowing economic development to all participating states.
On the other hand, world system theory emphasizes on the economic part only and focuses on the nations as units of division of labor. According to Amartya (1999), “World culture theory focuses on the way all the participants in the process become conscious of and give meaning to living the world as a single place” (p.112). Therefore, this affirms the focus of the world culture theory.
With the world systems theory, the nations are not equal in power and control of production and marketing. There is grouping of nations dependent on economic growth of the nations.
Manfred (2002) observes that, “Far from being separate societies or world, the world economy manifests a tripartite division of labor with core, semi core and periphery zones” (p.134). On the other hand, the world culture theory stresses on equality of all participants.
The outcomes of the theories
In reference to the world system theory, the consequences of globalization include the suppression of cultures as emphasis here is on the nations. Dominant cultural values and norms get lost with time because of integration of the world’s cultures through people’s interaction during trade.
International trade opens up markets on the outside world causing liberalization of markets and free flow of professionals and experts.
In flux of external work force leads to competition in the job markets. International movements erode morals of the community and encourage integration and initiation of other cultures, which could lead to moral decay of a society.
World culture theory concludes that, mixing and consolidation of different cultures leads to health interaction and appreciation of the diversity of cultural practices and thus respect to identity cultures.
The free integration of people across the globe poses the risk of spread of diseases including HIV and AIDS reducing life expectancy of many people in the world. In addition, countries, which refused to adopt the globalization scheme, continue to drop economically staring at the threat of economic crises.
Economic development calls for industrialization, which sets in another problem on the environment due to emission of gases and other effluents. These substances pollute the environment. Agriculture and mining also cause environmental damage as they seek to exploit the environment looking for raw materials to support the growing industries.
Globalization and sociological theory
Globalization sets in different views over social studies and in the pursuit of understanding the society better in a globalized society, application of new framework becomes inevitable.
Cultures and social activities, beliefs, lifestyles and norms change with globalization simply because of integration of different cultures leading to subsequent loss of some cultural elements and adoption of other cultural elements.
Technology changes cultures and lifestyles of many people across the world posing the need to have a different framework in sociological theory.
Globalization seeks to concentrate people, goods, cultures, and social practices together and create a commonplace without boundary limitation for free intermingling of all the participants.
Globalization causes both generation of opportunities and challenges as exemplified by the theories put forward to unveil the dilemma of globalization.
A part from the evident economic growth seen in globalized societies there is also political and social growth experienced by the countries in the globalization process. The opportunities accruing from the processes of globalization outmatch the challenges.
Amartya, S., 1999. Development as freedom. New York: Oxford university press.
Jurgen, O., 2005. Globalization. New Jersey: Princeton university press.
Manfred, S., 2002. Globalization: The new market ideology. Maryland: Littlefied Publishers.
Roland, R., 1991. The globalization: Thinking globally. Greenwich: JAI press.
Tomadj, B.D., 1993. The challenges of globalization. Sweden: Uppsala university press.
Wallerstein, L., 1995. After liberalization. New York: The new press.
Warwick, M.E., 2006. Geographies of globalization. New York: Routledge.
Wolf, M., 2004. Why globalization works. New Havens: Yale university press.