Traditions and Encounters, AP Edition (Bentley), 5th Edition

Chapter 38: A World without Borders


Globalization is the unifying concept of this last chapter. The collapse of communism in the 1990s ushered in a new world economic order. The image of a world without borders suggests a world in which economies, technologies, ideas, and cultures are all interconnected. Through mass media, mass production, and mass transportation, the world has become smaller and more integrated. For many societies this process has significantly improved standards of living. In other societies the results have been more mixed. Aspects of the process of globalization include the following:

  • Global institutions. The world is increasingly shaped by multinational agencies and organizations. Global corporations operate apart from the restrictions imposed by any one government or legal system. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) try to address international problems without binding themselves to the policies of any single country.
  • Global economy. Since World War II, the industrial nations have tried to eliminate barriers to free trade, such as protective tariffs and import duties. Many nations have formed trade associations, such as the EU and ASEAN, which grant special trading privileges to member states. Free trade favors those states with the cheapest manufactured goods and often undermines indigenous handicrafts.
  • Global culture. The products of the global economy have come to dominate consumer tastes all over the world. Consumers increasingly define themselves with reference to brand names and current fashions. The global culture is enhanced through the instant access of telecommunications and the Internet.
  • Global migrations. The global economy seeks out the cheapest labor and resources, and as a result, millions of workers have relocated to new industrial centers seeking opportunities. Problems of rapid urbanization and environmental degradation often result. Some migrants have been the unwilling victims of trafficking and even slavery.
  • Global inequities. The global economy favors nations with capital and highly developed economies. Those nations that are economically dependent find it difficult to break out of that role, although the "little tigers" of Asia demonstrate that this is possible. New technologies create a "digital divide" between the wealthy and the poorer nations.
  • Resistance to globalization. Such dramatic changes have met with resistance from many quarters. Many cultures perceive a threat to their traditions and values. Islamic countries in particular have resisted the sexualized images of western pop culture.
Traditions & Encounters, 5e
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