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The impact of globalisation: individuals, local, national and global

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Introduction

Globalisation is often referred to when discussing things such as trade, travel or large international companies and people think that it has nothing to do with them. No matter where people live in the world, however, they can be affected by globalisation on an individual, local, national and global scale.

Individuals

Globalisation affects every aspect of an individual's life including, religion, food, transport, language, music and clothing. It affects each individual differently however, depending on a diverse number of factors such as location, education and income.

While globalisation is said to unite the world, it has often been criticised for widening the gap between the rich and poor. It also has been said to favour the wealthy and educated, particularly those citizens belonging to the wealthier countries such as the United States. For the chief executive officers (CEOs) of the large transnational corporations (TNCs) such as Bill Gates, the CEO of computer technology company, Microsoft, this seems to be particularly true. Born into a wealthy American family and receiving a solid education throughout his life, including his study at Harvard University, Gates' personal wealth of US$52.8 billion by 2001 makes him the world's richest person. Refer Image 1

People from developing nations are disadvantaged to an even greater extent than the poor from developed nations. Aside from being exploited as cheap labour, many are also without access to technology. For those who do have access, many are unable to use the internet owing to their inability to read and write, or to communicate in English which has become the dominant language in the new global world. People from poorer nations are said to also be exposed to more pollution. This pollution is suggested to have resulted from globalisation which places importance on international travel and trade, as well as industry.

Local

On a local level, globalisation has dramatically changed the nature of business. Many smaller, local companies have been pushed out of business by their TNC competitors. It is often a result of consumers turning to the cheaper retail prices which TNCs can offer, owing to many having manufactured products using cheap foreign labour. In response, campaigns have been initiated to promote local markets being restored and the return of locally produced goods and services. The food industry is often referred to when making the point of just how much we import, how far it has to come and the impact that this is having on the environment. It has been suggested that the average meal in the United Kingdom has travelled up to 3860 kilometres before it reaches the table. Increasing the local production of food would mean that less packaging and less transport would have a noticeable benefit to the environment. Refer Image 2

Local cultures have also been affected by globalisation. Traditional customs and rituals are being replaced with the popular culture of the United States and the United Kingdom. Local communities are no longer abundant with only local cuisine, but are likely to have fast food chains such as McDonald's or restaurants with foreign dishes. The languages of local communities are being lost, as is traditional clothing. Younger generations, in particular, are embracing assimilation (the gradual adoption of customs and attitudes) into a more 'Americanised' society.

National

Globalisation, which is often dominated by finance, economics and business, has naturally had a significant effect on a national level. While nations such as the United States have prospered from the wealth created by globalisation, the circumstances of poor nations may have actually become worse. The level of inequality is made apparent when it is considered that the collected national incomes of Jamaica, Nepal, Ecuador, Georgia and Sudan are equivalent to the personal wealth of Bill Gates.

The problem is that for many poorer nations, the situation will continue to worsen. Their citizens are often less likely to be educated, or have the skills to assist in improving the economy of their country. For those who do have the education and skills, they are often granted visas to move to developed, wealthier nations for the chance of a better standard of living. While this improves their quality of life, their country is being left without the skilled workers that are needed to improve its economy.

Wealthier nations are also disadvantaging the poorer ones by reducing the aid that they are providing. This results in a decline in conditions which normally entice foreign investments. A number of nations rely on this money to do things such as repay debts to foreign nations and without it, they are forced to struggle.

Global

Globalisation has resulted in almost every aspect of life existing on an increasingly international scale. A global economy is emerging owing to companies and countries expanding their international trade through improvements in technology. People are travelling to foreign countries more and cultures are being exchanged to form a shared global identity.

In response to the way the world is operating on more of a global level, global organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) have been established. These organisations with global power are able to help resolve conflicts between nations, in much the same way that conflict within a nation can be resolved at a national level. Refer Image 3

The fact that humans all share the same global environment means that they are dependent on each other being able to protect it. The effects of globalisation on the environment have come under heavy criticism in the past. It is thought that globalisation is a major contributor to global warming, due to its emphasis on international travel and trade, as well as industry. Statistics show that compared to 1950, emissions of carbon dioxide in 2000 had increased fourfold. In response, new policies have been adopted by countries to try to better protect the environment. This includes the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which involved delegates from 150 countries meeting in Japan to address the issue of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.


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1. What sort of people has globalisation been criticised of favouring?

The citizens of developing nations

The wealthy and the educated

The indigenous communities

Attractive youths without the need for an education

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