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World History: Globalization in the 1970s-2000s Essay

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Updated: Feb 15th, 2022


Globalization is an integral part of the modern world, and its processes affect all countries and all inhabitants of the earth. However, the effects of this process are controversial, since, on the one hand, it is beneficial, but on the other, it has negative consequences for many countries. Especially these differences can be noted by comparing the situation of countries that only after the 1970s gained independence and embarked on the path of democratic and economic growth and developed countries. The period of the 1970s–2000s is the most vivid for understanding the impact of the process of globalization and changes in the world order. The system of colonization and the bipolar world was finally eliminated, and democracy replaced the dictatorships in many countries precisely during these years. Consequently, this paper will explore the period of the 1970s-2000s to determine the events and impact of the first stages of globalization in different countries and their people.

Main body

The first feature of this period is the fact that almost all countries of the world have switched to a democratic system and a free market economy. The last African colonies gained independence, Latin American countries overthrew dictatorial regimes, and the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union (Tingor et al., 2014). The latter event had the most significant consequences for Europe and part of Asia, since after the collapse of the USSR, 15 independent states appeared on the world map. In addition, the reduction of the influence or support of the communist ideology to such countries as Czechoslovakia, Germany, and Yugoslavia, and internal causes also led to their collapse and the emergence of young democracies (Tingor et al., 2014). The newly emerging countries or governments had to correct the mistakes of previous authorities and create new institutions and structures to ensure the development and a sufficient standard of living for their people. However, all these states demanded support and implementation in the new economic system, which led to increased cooperation and integration, and therefore globalization.

One of the landmark events of that period was the fall of the Berlin Wall, which for nearly 50 years, symbolized the division of the world into a capitalist and socialist camp. This event was expected and unexpected at the same time. As Ann Tusa notes in her article, the mass migration, or rather escape, of East Berlin residents through other countries or gaps in the Wall has grown to a considerable extent, as well as citizens’ protests (Tingor et al., 2014). Hence, the USSR authorities were not able to control the situation and decided to open access for East Berlin citizens to West Berlin (Tingor et al., 2014). Ann also notes that such an event was completely unexpected for both journalists and the public and was the beginning of the unification of Germany (Tingor et al., 2014). Such changes in German politics, as well as the opportunities of its western part, allowed the state to join the processes of globalization in short lines, benefit from it, and become one of the most developed countries in the world.

Changes also occurred in the political system of some African countries, which brought the end colonialism era. Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique gained their independence from Portugal that had the last colonies in Africa, which became the end of the rule of white people in Africa. In addition, large-scale protests in South Africa against apartheid also yielded results as political fighters against apartheid were released in the late 1980s (Tingor et al., 2014). In the early 1990s, one of the leaders of the resistance Nelson Mandela became president of the state (Tingor et al., 2014). The Tim Jarvis’ photo published by The Guardian is indicative of both the history of South Africa and an understanding of globalization and democratization of society (Figure 1). A protest urging states to impose sanctions and abandon trade with South Africa is aimed at opposing apartheid, since the white government of the country could not resist the economic crisis in the country. The residents of London came out in defense of South African people that demonstrate the transformation of a global culture in which people are increasingly concerned about issues of human rights and freedoms.

Jarvis, T. (1987). Protests in London. The Guardian
Figure 1. Jarvis, T. (1987). The Guardian. Web.

However, other states that recently gained independence needed to build an effective economic system and deal with internal political and social issues. For example, South Africa faced many problems, since, after the abolition of apartheid, the black population had to replace white people in important governmental and managerial positions. However, the lack of education and experience that was caused by the policies of previous years led to a lack of skilled workers. In addition, the new government needed to rebuild postcolonial political and social institutions and industries (Tingor et al., 2014). Therefore, even with the availability of resources, the government could not properly dispose of them, which significantly impeded the development of the country. This situation was typical of other African, Latin American, and even European states, since not all of them had the resources to become agents of globalization but not its objects.

At the same time, other states benefited from global processes, especially in the economic aspect. West European countries, the USA, Canada, and Australia were in the most advantageous position. These states had the resources to develop international trade, and globalization allowed them to use cheap labor and transfer production to Asia, Africa, or Latin America. The Los Angeles Times successfully portrayed this trend in 1996 by using the cartoon (Figure 2). This picture shows the difference between residents of different countries, and also indicates the problem of cheap labor, which many global corporations have used. Other sources also indicate that some states have managed to make a significant leap in this period, also taking advantage of globalization. For example, Japan entered the top countries for economic development due to its technological progress and the benefits of the free market, even though in 1958, most Japanese could not afford a TV (Overfield, 2013). Therefore, one can note the increased level of inequality in the world, comparing the situation of countries that appeared after the 1970s, and states that had a developed economic and political structure.

Danziger, J. (1996). The world according to Nike. Los Angeles Times.
Figure 2. Danziger, J. (1996). The world according to Nike. Los Angeles Times.


In conclusion, the analysis of the historical period of the 1970s-2000s demonstrates the significant political and economic changes that were the cause and consequences of globalization. While the new opportunities of world trade and interaction have brought benefits to developed countries, other states have found themselves in even more difficult situations due to the inability to compete with world leaders. Consequently, the first stages of integration of the world community brought both positive and negative consequences, which are still reflected in the modern world situation.


Overfield, J. H. (2013). Sources of global history since 1900 (2nd ed.). Cengage.

Tignor, A., Kotkin, A., & Tsin, M. P. (2014). Worlds together worlds apart/ Volume C: 17750 to present (4th ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.

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