The world is fast becoming a global village, seemingly smaller than it was a decade ago. This scenario has resulted from the development of trade and transport systems, thus making it conducive for movement of people, goods, services, and ideas and creating diversity in social, economic, political, and cultural views across the world. The technological revolution has also played a critical role in advancing globalization.
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Globalization is an age-old concept, even though it has elicited great discourses in contemporary times as compared in the past where the idea of a global village seemed farfetched. Globalization is the process of growth and interconnection of world economies and cultures, which are aided by transport and trade. This process has been in progress for hundreds of years although at a much slower pace than in recent years as aforementioned.
It affects the cultural, economic, and social spheres of society. As with every thing else, globalization has both advantages and disadvantages. This paper highlights some of the positive effects that globalization has on all spheres of human interaction including the sharing of cultural products such as music, sports, and movies, knowledge, technology, and foods from different cultures.
Accessibility of technology
A few decades ago, the majority of the contemporary technology was non-existent in most developing countries. People had to do almost everything manually including basic tasks such as doing laundry, cleaning floors, and cooking. However, this scenario was different in most developed countries as they already had some of the technology needed to carry out such tasks with ease.
However, with the improvement and advancement in modes of transport in developing countries, developed countries found new markets in most parts of Africa and Asia and products such as vacuum cleaners, microwaves, and washing machines found their way to developing countries. The main advantage of this development is that it has drastically improved the quality of work done while reducing the amount of time spent doing the same.
This aspect consequently improves the lifestyles of the people using the machines (Rifkin, 2003, Spiritual Perspectives on Globalization, p.176). Nevertheless, western countries are constantly modifying these products and making them more efficient. Today, it does not take a decade for any new technology to be available to consumers in developing countries.
Globalization has opened boundaries across the world, and a new technology in the United States will only take a few months before hitting the market in developing countries. Also, the transport systems have drastically evolved from the use of steam engines and ships to using electric trains and airplanes.
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Communication is also easier now with the introduction of hi-tech mobile telephones that connect people both in the same country and with people in different continents at the touch of a button (. The ultimate result of such developments is that people in different areas of the world are in a position to enjoy the benefits of products not ordinarily available to them in their own countries and have expansive markets in other parts of the world.
Marketing forums like Amazon, e-Bay and many other online trading forums enable consumers to purchase goods and services online regardless of one’s location (Pew Global Attitudes Project, 2007, p.177-178).
Choice of culture
Globalization has led to the introduction of diverse cultural practices in places where originally there existed only one practice. A century ago, a certain culture was a specific aspect unique to a certain society. For instance, the Chinese culture was specific to people and residents of China, European culture was specific to people living in Europe and African culture specific to Africa.
However, ease of trade and travel has changed this dynamic by making most societies multicultural, with everyone having the freedom to embrace his or her culture of preference rather than being restricted to the culture of birth. For instance, it is Chinese culture that children should not buy food with their own money.
This cultural pursuit seeks to encourage children to eat whatever that their parents place before them, consequently encouraging healthy eating. Nevertheless, since the McDonalds opened its first branch in Beijing in 1992, this cultural requirement has changed drastically.
McDonald’s services, which include hosting birthday parties, appealed to children regardless of the fact that birthdays are not culturally celebrated in China either (The Levin Institute, n.d. Globalization and Culture: Globalization and local culture, p.180).
Also, the introduction of Starbucks, an American coffee retail enterprise, in Italy has given the people of Italy a choice between maintaining their culture of drinking coffee in small and relaxed establishments and ordering coffee at Starbucks to drink on the go at their convenience. There are also other restaurants established for the sole purpose of selling food associated with specific cultures.
There are restaurants that only make Italian cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Japanese cuisine, and French cuisine to mention but a few, while others take pride in being inclusive and serving cuisines from different cultures (Hastings, Thiel & Thomas, 2003, The deadly noodle, p.180). This aspect gives every individual a chance to either try something new or stick to what is familiar.
Another good example is fashion and how different cultures influence their trends. For instance, people associate the Kenyan Maasai kikoi with East Africa and the Ankara with West Africa. Therefore, a person may use any of the two fabrics or use them together to give an African feel to his or her outfit. The beauty of the freedom to choose elements from different cultures is that it creates diversity and nurtures an appreciation for different cultures.
It also creates opportunities to develop new and unique cultures made from the combination of cultures from different societies as well as a means to celebrate similarities. Sports are one such similarity, which is celebrated worldwide through the organization of events that bring different countries together to compete in various disciplines. The Olympics and the FIFA World Cup are examples of such events.
During these events, people from different cultures meet and exchange ideas and practices. Also, some sports are specific to some countries; for instance, the Chinese acrobatics, and through such events, other countries get to learn about these sports, which are specific to some cultures.
Diverse culture products
Apart from increasing the availability of consumer goods, globalization has increased production and trade of culture products and services such as music and movies. Cultural products and services are products and services that echo the lifestyles and cultural background of a given society. For instance, movies vary depending on the part of the world they come from and the culture in force in that particular part of the world.
For example, the United States developed the ‘Hollywood’ trademark for outstanding movies and other artistic displays that best defined what the culture is like in that part of the world(The Levin Institute, n.d. Globalization and Culture: Globalization and local culture, p.180). They packaged these performances and sold them as a commodity within the American borders.
As globalization progressed, other parts of the world such as Asia and Africa provided a ready market for this commodity. It also created a platform for different cultures around the world to share their experiences whether political, social-cultural, or economical.
It did not take long for Asia and Africa to start producing movies using the knowledge gained from the commodity they bought and incorporating their own cultural experiences into the stories.
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Bollywood is the Asian version of this commodity while the Nollywood is the African version produced in the West African region.
Just like the example given earlier on regarding the choice of a culture where people establish restaurants serving specific foods from different parts of the world, the IMAX Company based in the United States is recorded to have opened six hundred and ninety-seven (697) movie theaters in fifty-two countries worldwide by September of 2012.
These theaters provide an avenue for people to enjoy the American movie-watching culture in an authentic American environment (The Levin Institute, n.d. Globalization and Culture: Globalization and local culture, p.180).
Air transportation has made it possible for people to leave one part of the world to learn and gain knowledge in another part of the world.
The Internet and by extension the social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have made haring of information, and consequently, knowledge easier and faster as information is relayed in real time to people all over the world (Knickerbocker, 2004, If Poor Get Richer; Does the World See Progress? page 185-186).
The Internet burst has facilitated knowledge sharing by a great margin, and even now, people in developing countries can undertake online studies offered in learning institutions in developing countries. Thanks to globalization, people can have cures to most of the diseases across the world.
A cure discovered in one part of the world now means a cure for the rest of the world. For instance, courtesy of the efforts of Dr. Jonas Salk in the early 1950s who invented the Polio vaccine the disease is now preventable. However, this achievement would not be possible without means of sharing information.
This information-sharing aspect is not only important in issues regarding medicine, but also in political, social, environmental and economic issues. As long as there is an interconnection of interests, through trade, for instance, it is crucial to ensure that there is a flow of information and knowledge.
A good example of why this element is important is the global financial meltdown that occurred throughout the world like a ripple effect to a credit crisis in Europe. Had there been information regarding the credit crunch on the onset, most of the countries with financial links to credit institutions in Europe would have taken necessary measures to prevent a global meltdown.
World leaders hold conventions in different places at different times of the year all over the world to discuss various ways of ensuring conservation and sustainability of the environment because what happens in one part of the world affects the rest of the world.
Carbon emissions, for example, affect the o-zone layer thus causing global warming across the world, regardless of the origin of the emissions (Knickerbocker, 2004, If Poor Get Richer; Does the World See Progress?, page 185-186).
Since every element has a negative side, globalization has numerous positive aspects that have changed the lives of many individuals across the world. The process is continuous and finds new ways of linking various parts of the world together.
Through globalization, culture has defied territorial boundaries, thus allowing the sharing of life-changing knowledge coupled with the development and sharing of technology. Globalization has created diversity in every part of the world and made people to appreciate both what is within and outside their territorial borders.
Hastings, M., Thiel, S., & Thomas, D. (2003). The deadly noodle. Newsweek, 141(3), 180-182.
Knickerbocker, B. (2004). Globalization and sustainability: If Poor Get Richer, Does World See Progress? The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from www.csmonitor.com
Pew Global Attitudes Project. (2007). World publics welcome global trade-But not immigration. Retrieved from http://pewglobal.org/
Rifkin, I. (2003). Framing articles: What is globalization: Spiritual Perspectives on Globalization. Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths Publishers.
The Levin Institute State University. (n.d.). Globalization and Culture: Globalization and local culture. Retrieved from http://www.globalization101.org/issue_main/culture/