We live in an increasingly globalised world. Globalisation refers to the greater interconnectedness and interdependence of people and places around the world. Globalisation propels and is propelled by spatial interaction -the connections and relations that develop among places and regions as a result of the movement or flow of people, goods, or information.
Spatial interaction and connectivity
Spatial interaction occurs in myriad ways as, for example, when you text a message to a friend, journey from home to work or transfer funds electronically. Technologies such as cellular networks, submarine cables and telephone land lines facilitate long-distance and international spatial interaction.
Those technological advances mean a closer connection between people (physically or virtually). In today’s world we can communicate with anyone in the planet thanks to the network of internet. Also, we can go to almost any place by plane, ship or car. This easy connections have -since 1980s- revolutionized our world and our lives. Globalisation has brought us together -for better or worse- and so life has changed a lot in the last three decades. A very short period of time if we think in a historical scale.
Cultural globalisation makes possible that in a town located deep in the Brazilian Amazon youngsters listen to K-Pop and follow the NBA. Also, it puts in European radios music from Colombia, and offers in Indian restaurants American dishes. Cultural globalisation threats to turn the world into a one-culture place. The endurance of the local culture is sometimes hard, but for sure will be necessary to keep the diversity of our planet.
One good way of experiencing globalisation without leaving your home is checking out some of the products that you already have as a result of this process. You may have not noticed, but globalisation has brought you many things. The next task invites students to analyse where do different goods in their homes come from. Looking at the labels on the things you have (clothes, food, smartphone…) you can understand the power of globalisation. It wouldn’t be a surprise if you had to mention countries that you never imagined were so «close» to you.The World in your Pocket
Globalisation… good for everybody?
If we divide the world into Core and Periphery, the Core would be the traditional economic and political center, while the Periphery would be those forgotten countries, far from Western’s point of view. The Core has lead and spread globalisation -so much that we could talk about a westernization-, and the Periphery has got this «present» without asking for it. Globalisation has brought to the Periphery:
- new jobs -those they don’t want in the Core: low-skilled jobs.
- new industrial regions that pollute their rivers, forests, air and lands. The new factories bring jobs, but also pollution!
- accelerated urban growth: most of the largest cities are now in the Periphery. That’s not always a good thing: the larger the city, the more traffic jams, social problems, pollution and violence.
- new cultural habits: changes in their culture (food, cinema, clothes, music, language…). That creates a clash of cultures that generates tension -sometimes even social unrest and revolts against cultural globalisation.
- increase of social and economic inequalities (there are indeed more rich people, but that has only led to a higher gap between them and the poorest classes -who keep being poor despite having a job in the western industries).
Globalisation at risk?
Although globalisation helps big companies benefit of a global market and lower production costs, data shows a slow stabilization of the growth of this process. If we measure globalisation by the share that trade of goods has in the GDP, we get this graph:
Two main reasons explain this slowing in the movement of capital flows throughout the planet:
- Protectionism on the rise. The 2008 financial crisis gave birth to nationalisms and populisms that soon would reach power in several countries. Those new governments have rejected globalisation and embraced protectionism, looking more inside their nations than caring what’s going on outside their borders.
- Reduction of differences in salaries around the World. The emergence of developing regions has reduced the gap between Core and Periphery’s salaries. This means companies have less interest in offshoring its production processes.