Globalisation – Introduction
March 13, 2010 Leave a comment
Introduction to globalisation
Globalisation (Note: You might see it spelt with a ‘Z’.. American spelling) is pretty much the spread of a uniformity that eliminates cultural nuances and creates a standardisation.
Think about 40 years ago. If you lived in the UK, were out and wanted a hamburger, the only available fast food chain was Wimpy, famed for it’s horribly named ‘Bender Burger’. But basically, that was the only place you could go. And it was innately British: The food came with a knife and fork, and on a plate. I wasn’t born back then but I can only assume it completed the British theme by having the food brought to you by a comically rude waiter who is inexplicably upper class. Basil Fawlty was probably involved. But what I’m trying to get at is that it was definitely a British thing.
Now, in 2010, where do you go? McDonalds or Burger King (or others but I don’t like those so shush). McDonalds is very American in it’s presentation. I bet when you go in there you even say ‘fries’ instead of ‘chips’. I do.
Ok, now pretend you’ve won a trip around the world, stopping in every country (even the bad ones no-one visits). You’d probably see a McDonalds in the majority of those countries. They’re a global company. And that is an example of globalisation.
Anyway, let’s briefly go through some of the history of globalisation.
What is it?
The actual word globalisation is both a verb and a noun. As a verb it’s referring to the process of culture branching out globally (hinted at earlier with McDonalds). In noun form it means the end result, as in ‘Our company has achieved globalisation’.
A question to ask yourself is ‘is our economy global?’. Many people would say that it is. When the financial crisis of the late 2000s (Note: Never, EVER use the term credit crunch. Just don’t.) occurred, it started in New York, on Wall Street, and spread far and wide. The simple fact that workers in small towns in the UK lost their jobs because of the actions of a stockbroker they’ve never even heard of would imply that the economy is definitely global.
But just because financial ramifications can spread, that doesn’t necessarily make the economy global. Famine in Africa didn’t suddenly get worse in the financial crisis. This is because it’s mostly cut off from globalisation.
Another reason to doubt the existence of a global economy is a lack of change. The dominating forces in the world economy in the 1960s were Japan, USA, Germany, and some others. Not much has changed today, expect for perhaps the addition of China as an economical superpower. This could be changing soon however. The G8 (The 8 richest countries in the world) was recently expanded to become the G20 as more countries become relevant economically. Maybe in the future there’ll be a G30, or a G50.
This follows on from the McDonalds example earlier. In many places culture does seem to be reaching a point on consolidation, where Americanisation is spreading to the point where the country’s culture is almost the same as the American culture. Here’s an example, the current UK iTunes top 10:
Looking at the top 10, actually it isn’t as American as I expected. You’ve got Jason Derülo, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, and I’m not sure whether to count Justin Bieber because he’s Canadian. Let’s leave him out because I just don’t like him. The point is, in the UK top 10, 4 of the artists are American. Nobody is implying this is a bad thing, and it goes both ways: The Beatles were, and still are huge in America.
What this means is that our culture is changing to a point where most of what we do and enjoy is the same in a lot of countries. Critics of globalisation say that most global culture now is becoming so Americanised that cultures lose their own identity, but there is plenty of evidence to say that culture from other parts of the world equally permeates into America. Rihanna is from the Caribbean, but enjoys massive success in the US. Reebok is from Bolton but is a huge name in American sports. There are many more examples.
As this is just the introduction it’s been kept very brief, but more will be posted soon that expand on a lot of ideas introduced here.