Is Globalisation A New Phenomenon

This sample paper on Is Globalisation A New Phenomenon offers a framework of relevant facts based on recent research in the field. Read the introductory part, body, and conclusion of the paper below.

In the many academic papers and books published on the subject, globalisation has been given numerous and varying definitions. In spite of these variations, globalisation is commonly agreed to be political, social and economic in its effects: “In political life, globalization takes a distinct form, though the general trends towards deterrorialization, interconnectedness across borders, and the acceleration of social activity are fundamental here as well”( Scheuerman, 2002)

The Progressive Living Glossary defines it as being both a cultural and political concept, seeing it as a ‘trend towards a single world society’, a process which ‘trends toward the undermining of national sovereignty… in favor of the economic interests of gigantic transnational corporations.

‘(www. progressiveliving. org). Alternatively, Anthony Giddens, a leading sociologist, defines globalisation as ‘a decoupling of space and time’ and states that culture and knowledge can be instantaneously shared throughout the world using communications systems such as the Internet.

www. globalisationguide. org). For the purposes of this essay, I will be utilising the definition that I feel best fits the concept of globalisation, that of Baylis and Smith, who state it as ‘the process of increasing interconnectedness between societies such that events in one part of the world more and more have effects on peoples and societies far away’ (2001, p7). Although the word globalisation itself is a relatively new one, the concept as particularly seen through this last definition can be traced back centuries, even to ancient times.

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New Phenomenon

In this essay I intend to show that globalisation is not a new phenomenon and that although there seems to be no commonly agreed point of origin, its roots can be traced back through world history. Additionally, there seems to be an inextricable link between the development of globalisation and the growth of capitalism. However, the advent of instantaneous global telecommunication systems and increased access to all parts of the globe have effectively allowed the process to advance a greater rate in more recent years.

The Roman Empire, which encompassed most of the known world, showed clear evidence of sophisticated levels of interconnectedness. Economically, it had its own commercial trading network which stretched hundreds of miles and a common currency similar to that of the modern European Union. On a social level, their culture strongly permeated their conquered nationalities, the legacies of which can still be seen today. Effective communication systems enabled political decisions, originating in Rome, to be carried out across the length and breadth of the empire.

The first circumnavigation of the earth in 1519 to 1521 can be regarded as the next significant event which furthered the progress of globalisation from earlier times. For the first time in history the entire world was potentially exposed to global influences. The resulting explosion in trade, on a scale never experienced before, marked the first great leap forward for globalisation. This was quickly followed by a growth in colonialism amongst the great European powers.

These powers succeeded in carving most of the known world into vast empires, meaning that ‘by the late nineteenth century even isolated and previously inaccessible continents, like the interior of Africa, were under the jurisdiction… of European powers. ‘ (Baylis and Smith(eds), 2001, p 45). The Concert of Europe, which was a balance of power coalition, applied the notions of diplomacy and international law on a world wide scale by enforcing them upon their colonies. Even the countries which did not fall under the control of a European nation, were still obliged to abide by these practises.

Although it can be argued that western powers economically exploited and enforced their culture upon their colonial territories, nonetheless, this still represents a form of interconnectedness concurrent with the above definition of globalisation cited earlier (Baylis and Smith, 2001). In the years following World War II a strong feeling of anticolonialism emerged. Leaders of European colonies demanded self-determination, an ideal which had its origins in western culture.

The resulting independence allowed them access to an inclusive international society thus increasing the existence of interconnectedness between states and nations. From 1947 onwards the majority of Asian and African colonies gained their independence, became full members of the United Nations thus effectively creating a new world order. From the 1960s onwards, the introduction of global communications succeeded in further reducing local and national boundaries as the transfer of information, and potentially power, became instantaneous.

However, the ongoing Cold War remained a major barrier as it effectively divided the globe and prevented the process of interconnectedness politically, socially and economically. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 the last remaining obstacle to globalisation was effectively removed. For the first time in history an international society encompassing the entire world was created. With Communism defeated, for the first time, every country in the world was either capitalist or dependent on trade with capitalist nations.

This created an ideal environment for globalisation to flourish. Transnational corporations were able to expand into previously forbidden areas and trade worldwide. Countries from the former Soviet Bloc could now communicate with Western nations, and vice versa, meaning that ideas and cultural experience could be exchanged. Cultural communication at a global level has also increased rapidly. Through the combination of TV, radio, Internet and film, experience of diverse cultures can be gained.

The speed at which globalisation has occurred in the past century at a political level is clear to see when studying the number of international organisations and agencies which now exist. Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) have sprung up at an incredible rate. In 1909 37 IGOs and 176 INGOs existed, while in 1996, this had grown to 260 IGOs and five and a half thousand INGOs. This proves that globalisation is not a new phenomenon, as at the start of the Twentieth century there existed many international agencies.

However, the number which exist in modern times shows just how quickly globalisation has progressed. The main difference between the globalisation today and that of say, a hundred years ago, is the difference in communication. Whilst international trade amongst the richest countries is not significantly greater than it was at the start of the twentieth century, but international communication was slow and expensive. The growth of instantaneous communications has completely changed the political system.

This can be seen most clearly when looking at modern warfare. Wars can now be controlled from a computer screen thousands of miles away from the front line. The process of globalisation, although an ongoing one, has rapidly accelerated in the past ten to fifteen years. The fall of the Soviet Union gave rise to a truly worldwide international community for the first time, and global communications systems enable this community to talk to each other instantaneously.

World trade has also grown due to the emergence of capitalism as the ideological victor of the Cold War and due to the great advances in communications, specifically the Internet. Globalisation, however, is not entirely new, as its roots lie centuries back. Recent events have taken the process to heights never previously seen or envisaged, but essentially, globalisation has existed, to a lesser extent, for as long as people have been internationally trading.

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