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Thursday, October 30, 2008

What is Globalization? - part 2

People on the Move
  • Human beings have been migrating, journeying and travelling for millennia, across great distances. It is only in this millennium that New Zealand and many Pacific Islands were finally reached by humans.
  • For most of recorded history migrations have taken three main forms. Elite migrations from the core of empires to their periphery in acts of conquest and conversion followed by settlers; elite and mass migrations to imperial cores and cities from the hinterlands and the countryside in search of work; the expansion and contraction of nomadic societies. Most of these have been regional in scope, though the early Islamic and later Mongol Empires had a global reach.
  • From the sixteenth century onwards the shape of global migration was transformed by the European conquest of the Americas and then Oceania as well as more tentative colonial expansion in Africa and Asia.
  • The first great wave of early modern migrations involved the forced movements of the transatlantic slave trade which shifted around 9-12 million people by the mid-nineteenth century. By comparison, the more regional Arabic slave trades and the early modern European emigration to the New World were minor.
  • From the mid nineteenth century onwards, the slave trade was dwarfed in extent by an extraordinary outpouring of Europe's poor to the New World, overwhelmingly the USA. This was accompanied, beginning in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, by a series of Asian migrations (predominantly of indentured labourers) to the USA, Canada and European colonies. Over 40 million people moved in this way in the quarter century before the First World War.
  • During the First World War, international migration plummeted. Although the war triggered some forced migrations, of Armenians and Greeks from Turkey for example, international migrations within Europe almost ceased. North America closed its borders, creating the first set of systematic border controls and immigration legislation in the modern era.
  • The bitter struggles and ethnic violence of the Second World war led to unprecedented levels of forced migrations, refugee and asylum movements. Ethnic Germans fled the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Jews headed for Israel, Pakistan and India exchanged millions and Koreans flooded south.
  • Economic migration and the rebirth of Western European economies in the 1950s and 1960s drove a renewed epoch of global migration. Despite the oil shocks of the 1970s and the closure of many European immigration programmes, Western Europe's foreign population and ethnic mix have grown as family reunions, unpoliceable borders and sheer demand for labour have driven migration from the European peripheries (Turkey, North Africa ) as well as the most distant outposts of old European empires (Southern Asia, East and West Africa etc.) to the continent.
  • In the 1970s these waves of migration were accompanied by a take-off in legal and illegal migration to the USA and Australasia, enormous flows to the oil-rich and labour-scarce Middle East and new patterns of regional migration within Africa, Latin America, Oceania and East Asia. In the late 1990s, the USA in particular has been experiencing levels of migration that are comparable to the great transatlantic push of the late nineteenth century.
  • Moreover, recent economic migration has been accompanied by an astronomical rise in asylum seeking, displaced persons and refugees from wars of state formation (and disintegration) in the developing world.
  • For OECD states, the current era is characterised by high levels of global and regional migration, borders that are difficult to police, a range of migrations and travellers that are hard to control and in Europe, in particular, unprecedented levels of ethnic diversity. Over 10% of Swedes are foreign born for example.
  • Attempts at international regulation of migratory flows have met with limited success. Many states find it very difficult to mobilise internal support for tracking illegal migrants and are in some cases highly dependent economically on their labour. Simultaneously, all states are having to reassess the meaning and practice of national citizenship in an era of increasing heterogeneity. Dual nationality is on the rise.

The Fate of National Cultures

  • The globalization of culture has a long history. The formation and expansion of the great world religions are one of the best examples of the capacity of ideas and beliefs to cross great distances with decisive social impacts. No less important are the great pre-modern empires which, in the absence of direct military and political control, held their domains together through a shared and extensive ruling class culture.
  • For most of human history these extensive ruling cultures passed through a fragmented mosaic of local cultures and particularisms - little stood between the court and the village. It was only with the emergence of nation-states and national cultures that a form of cultural identity coalesced between these two extremes.
  • With the rise of nation-states and nationalist projects, the globalization of culture was truncated. Nation-states took control of educational practices, linguistic policies, postal and telephonic systems, etc. However, from the eighteenth century onwards as European empires began to entrench themselves and as a series of technological innovations came on stream (regularised mechanical transport and the telegraph most notably), new forms of cultural globalization emerged. These were accompanied by new private international institutions like publishing houses and news agencies, but their impact on more local and national cultures remained limited.
  • The most important ideas and arguments to emerge out of the West in the era of its expansion were science, liberalism and socialism. Each of these modes of thought and the practices that came with them transformed the ruling cultures of almost every society on the planet. They have certainly had a more considerable impact on national and local cultures than contemporary popular cultures.
  • In the period since the Second World War, however, the extensity, intensity, speed and sheer volume of cultural communication at a global level are unsurpassed. The global diffusion of radio, television, the Internet, satellite and digital technologies, and so on, has made instantaneous communication possible, rendered many border checks and controls over information ineffective, and exposed an enormous constituency to diverse cultural outputs and values. While linguistic differences continue to be a barrier to these processes, the global dominance of English provides a linguistic infrastructure that parallels the technological infrastructures of the era. In contrast to earlier periods in which states and theocracies have been central to cultural globalisation, the current era is one in which corporations are the central producers and distributors of cultural products.
  • The vast majority of these cultural products originate within the USA and certain key Western societies. However, the evidence available in support of a crude thesis of 'cultural imperialism' is thin. National and local cultures remain robust, national institutions continue in many states to have a central impact on public life, foreign products are constantly read and reinterpreted in novel ways by national audiences.
  • Those states which seek to pursue rigid closed-door policies on information and culture are certainly under threat from these new communication processes and technologies, and it is likely that the conduct of economic life everywhere will be transformed by them as well.
  • Cultural flows are transforming the politics of national identity and the politics of identity more generally.

5 comments:

Gaby said...

Thnx for this information !!!

Prihandoko said...

you did some research quite complete...thanks for sharing it.

Jody Donnelly said...

Hey, Sweetie

I would like to thank that I have nominated you for the Butterfly Award on my blog. Congratulations with this, your blog deserves it

Hugs and kisses

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