1. Some hyper-globalizers claim we live in a borderless world where states don’t matter. Critique this claim by providing specific examples of the role of state in the context of globalization.
While globalization is incredibly powerful because the borderless world allows for the transfer of jobs, resources to be extracted and mobile individuals to access markets overseas, the role of the state is more important than ever. Amartya Sen's essay "Globalization, Inequality and Global Protest" makes the argument that a globalized world seeks a workforce that is educated, in good health and relatively “free” in order to maximize opportunities for all. If the purpose of participating in the globalization process is to bring prosperity, increase GDP and lessen poverty for a people, Sen points out that the state has a large responsibility in ensuring that institutions are in place in order to allow social opportunities, democratic freedoms are in line with a nation’s economic growth. This is especially pertinent in good and bad economic times. In particular, a state’s social net may not be fully developed for emerging nations and this impacts individuals (high inflation, political unrest).
Secondly, the role of the state is instrumental in tackling inequalities between nations by setting up and implementing non-market institutions. Ensuring that the gains are shared equally can alleviate Sen claims that unequal gains between prosperous and poor countries impacted by globalization. This can be done by making sure that both the rich and poor get what they need. For instance, ensuring that proper social and legal protections are in place maximizes the opportunities that marginalized groups are protected, while powerful entities such as multinational corporations have the wherewithal to weigh in on the debate by insisting on legal protections for workers as individuals that are “free” contribute more to economic growth, which is of particular interest for corporations.
In a highly interconnected world, states rely on each other and are directed impacted by globalization’s effects. Shahdad Naghshpour’s essay titled “Globalization: Is it Good or Bad?” discusses some of the ways that states have attempted to shield and protect emerging economies from the deleterious effects of globalization.
The uneven economic growth faced by emerging economies had, in the past meant that raw materials (“primary goods”) were extracted from developing nations while the value-added goods were completed by industrialized nations. Globalization, defined as “the percentage of a country’s production that is consumed in another country (export/GDP).” In this scenario, the uneven balance of goods and services created by the globalization meant that the value added goods were tipped in favor of the industrialized nations that had the resources, skilled labor and network to distribute products in an effective way.
2. What is ‘localization of global culture’? Explain the term with specific examples.
One aspect of globalization in the global economy has been 'localization of global culture.' This phenomenon emphasizes local culture in the marketing of goods and products to consumers. As culture becomes global, ideas spreads throughout the world, facilitated by advances in technology. Symbols become increasingly important in the expression of grand ideas that take on meaning as a way of not only selling products, such as Apple's use of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as spokespeople. By purchasing products associated with Apple, its consumers wish to relay the message that they too are supportive of the ideals and causes championed by these two heroic pioneers.
The purpose of this phenomenon is to generate feelings of being "close to home" despite regional, local and national barriers that separate people. Consumers are able to purchase goods and participate in the global culture without traveling to far off lands. Furthermore, the brand messages affiliated with international brands are universal. Ideas of democracy, human rights and preservation of local culture are often injected in advertisement of products.
The interchanging of globalization and localization are connected and powerful. When we think of U.S. culture, it's often infused with movies, McDonald's and blue jeans. Global products with a focus on local culture emphasize local knowledge of culture and accommodating specific tastes and desires. What’s desired in one culture isn’t the same as another. One example is McDonald’s international menu. In India, it serves mutton burgers as beef or pork is not consumed by a sizable segment of its population.
One deleterious effect of the 'localization of global culture' is the spread of commercial mass culture and the decline of homogenous culture. For example, one reason tourists travel to distant countries is to see different sights and consume local culture, food and music. Something that is not easily accessible in their own country, but if goods are as easily accessible everywhere, this means that the local culture is being eroded and in its place, is the privatization of multinational corporations.
3. In the film “No Logo: Brands, Globalization, Resistance”, what are the major arguments of Naomi Klein? Discuss what she means by ‘no space’, ‘no choice’, ‘no jobs’ and ‘no logo’.
Also, consider a major challenge of urban social movements in the form of resisting globalization. In the film, “No Logo: Brands, Globalization, Resistance” author Naomi Klein sought to understand why there was a major backlash by the general population against multinational corporations in the mid-1990’s. She argued that the change in mass industrialization and marketing in the 1950s would forever alter the relationship that linked consumers to merchants. Where consumers used to have a personal relationship with merchants and shopkeepers were replaced by anonymous corporations in the era of globalization. Facilitating the brand content, Klein stipulates that brands were recognizable due to logos and marketing strategies changed. That is, the advertisements were infused with ideas that were larger than the product itself. These ideas represented positive elements of culture (i.e., youthfulness). Celebrities were being used to prop up products, to get consumers to like them.
Secondly, Klein mentions that the advertisements itself is very much ‘in your face.’ That is, consumers are being bombarded with ads (from television, billboards, product placement in public bathrooms). We as consumers are unable to escape from the constant advertisements that are competing for our attention. This, Klein says catapulted the rise of super-brands such as Nike. They push our boundaries. Furthermore, corporations have assumed multi-functional aspects. For example, Virgin wasn’t just a music company, but it also expanded to assuming other identities such as having its own plane, resulting in warring megabrands. Their role was to be everything to consumers by being everywhere. Klein refers to this phenomenon as ‘no space’ as the ads monopolized our space.. ‘No choice’ refers to the tightly controlled ads or brand bombing, that controlled the time and attention that consumers are being propelled by ads. Having choices was labeled as “the enemy” from the advertisers point of view.
Next, Klein makes references to ‘no jobs’ in the documentary. In our interconnected world, globalization is beneficial for corporations who through an intricate web of contractors and sub-contractors benefit from low wages and unskilled workers with precarious legal protections. For workers on the other end of the scale, the decline of manufacturing jobs that once provided good paying wages and sustained middle-class lifestyles, were now replaced by Mcjobs. They are temporary, short-term with few benefits that fit the new mobile world. These jobs were often in service industries and not considered “real jobs” for adults.
Klein also refers to ‘no logo’ as it refers to the anti-corporate activism and reclaiming the streets by protesters. The disparity of global economy, the explosion of brand based investigative activism and the belief that trickle-down economy by corporations would somehow benefit workers someday all generated a massive backlash against corporations in the days following the WTO. This phenomenon refers to taking control back from corporations and hijacking advertisement space in the public as a means of political messaging. If the market isn’t providing a trickle-down effect, then people have the right to meet their own basic needs by exercising their political rights.
One major challenge to urban social movements in the form of resisting globalization has been the uneven urbanization patterns in cities and how local politics react to this developing trend. The lack of a heterogeneous social movement is problematic for social activists. Social activists may be institutionalized in local state politics and may distance themselves from younger groups of activists. They have the political resources and enjoy stability, access and network. On the other hand, large cities are catering to international countries for additional funds which often means that parts of cities may be congested, polluted as a city aims to portray itself as an ‘innovation center’.
4. Discuss major characteristics of neoliberalism and critique its seemingly straightforward concept of ‘more market/less state’ model drawing upon David Harvey’s critiques on neoliberalism.
David Harvey takes a very dismal view of neoliberalism in “Brief History of Neoliberalism.” Neoliberalism was a principle of economics popular in the 1970s that stipulated that developing nations would benefit from ‘shock therapy’ and liberalize markets with laissez-faire policies.
- Privatization and commodification: The privatization of public institutions, public utilities and social welfare programs are becoming increasingly privatized.
- Financialization: Deregulation of key industries have led to the speculation, fraud and thievery that allow brokers to profit from stock transactions.
- The management and manipulation of crises: Debt crises in individual countries had become common in the 1960s that the international community decided needed “bail outs.” This was the beginning of the redistribution of wealth from poor countries to wealthy countries through structural programs implemented by the IMF. Financial crises in itself generates a system of winners and losers.
Neoliberalism was an epic failure that resulted in nations amassing large debt in order to abide by IMF loan terms and conditions. David Harvey’s critique of more market/less state is that state controls crises and are able to intervene in cases where currencies are devalued. They have fiscal tools at their disposal such as printing more money, etc. The neoliberal policies implemented by the structural programs of the IMF were facilitated by states that held a monopoly on violence and protect the property rights of the ruling classes.
David Harvey critiques the idea that by allowing the market to dictate prices, everything is assumed to be a commodity. The danger here is that property rights trumps processes, things and social relations. The author argues that the market is posited as a work of ethics for human actions. Even if certain drugs are illegal, under the market schemes the buying and selling of these same drugs would be legal and that is a problem for states that base their rule of law on legal institutions. As Karl Polanyi stated, the problem with the commodification of the markets is that it would destroy society with its ‘vices, perversion, crime and starvation’.
As human beings in society, we relate to each other via networks of social relations. The ‘human capital’ is endowed with dreams, hopes and ambitions. But for capitalists, David Harvey argues, human beings are just useful for producing goods. Employers take advantage of workers through use of short-term contracts to divide and conquer the labor workforce. Neoliberalism strips workers of their rights. This is most evident in the work conditions of ‘disposable workers’ in sweatshops.