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GLOBALISATION CHALLENGES AND
Globalization has come to be a principal characteristic feature of the new
millennium and it has become an inescapable reality in today's society. No
community and society can remain isolated from the forces of globalization. The
cyber society has come with a bang. The computer culture is spreading rapidly.
Even in a poor country, coca-cola, cars, cosmetics and clothes seen in the cities and
towns hide the reality of poverty and suffering of the people. We have almost
reached a point to believe that "We cannot reverse the trend; we can only go
forward!" We need to ask: What is the role and priorities of theological education
in this fast changing situation.
What is Globalization?
Globalization is a new contemporary stage of development of capitalism over the
world. It is a process of social change in which geographical and cultural barriers
are reduced. This break down of barriers is the result of transportation,
communication and electronic communication. It also involves a process by which
economies of different countries are oriented to a global market and are controlled
by multinational and global financial institutions. It is not merely an economic
process, it is also a cultural process. It creates, by the help of media, a mono-
culture - a culture of rich and powerful. It is no longer a theoretical concept; it is a
glaring reality, impinging upon almost every aspect of human existence -
economic, political, environmental, and cultural and the like.
Globalization can be described as ‘…a widening, deepening and speeding up of
worldwide interconnectedness in all aspects of contemporary social life, from
the cultural to the criminal, the financial to the spiritual’.
Globalization in its literal sense is the process of transformation of local or regional
things or phenomena into global ones. It can also be used to describe a process by
which the people of the world are unified into a single society and function
together. This process is a combination of economic, technological, sociocultural
and political forces.
Globalization is often used to refer to economic globalization, that is, integration of
national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct
investment, capital flows, migration, and the spread of technology.
Tom G. Palmer of Cato Institute defines "globalization" as "the diminution or
elimination of state-enforced restrictions on exchanges across borders and the
increasingly integrated and complex global system of production and
exchange that has emerged as a result."
Thomas L. Friedman "examines the impact of the 'flattening' of the globe", and
argues that globalized trade, outsourcing, supply-chaining, and political forces
have changed the world permanently, for both better and worse. He also argues
that the pace of globalization is quickening and will continue to have a growing
impact on business organization and practice.
Noam Chomsky argues that the word globalization is also used, in a doctrinal
sense, to describe the neoliberal form of economic globalization.
Herman E. Daly argues that sometimes the terms internationalization and
globalization are used interchangeably but there is a slight formal difference. The
term "internationalization" refers to the importance of international trade, relations,
treaties etc. International means between or among nations. "Globalization" means
erasure of national boundaries for economic purposes; international trade
(governed by comparative advantage) becomes inter-regional trade (governed by
The term "globalization" has been used by economists since the 1980s although it
was used in social sciences in the 1960s; however, its concepts did not become
popular until the latter half of the 1980s and 1990s. The earliest written theoretical
concepts of globalization were penned by an American entrepreneur-turned-
minister Charles Taze Russell who coined the term 'corporate giants' in 1897.
Globalization is viewed as a centuries long process, tracking the expansion of
human population and the growth of civilization, that has accelerated
dramatically in the past 50 years. Early forms of globalization existed during the
Roman Empire, the Parthian empire, and the Han Dynasty, when the Silk Road
started in China, reached the boundaries of the Parthian empire, and continued
onwards towards Rome. The Islamic Golden Age is also an example, when
Muslim traders and explorers established an early global economy across the
Old World resulting in a globalization of crops, trade, knowledge and technology;
and later during the Mongol Empire, when there was greater integration along the
Silk Road. Globalization in a wider context began shortly before the turn of the
16th century, with Spain and Portugal. Portugal's global explorations in the 16th
century, especially, linked continents, economies and cultures to a massive extent.
A wave of global trade, colonization, and enculturation reached all corners of
the world. Global integration continued through the expansion of European trade in
the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Portuguese and Spanish Empires expanded
to the Americas, followed eventually by France and Britain. Globalization has had
a tremendous impact on cultures, particularly indigenous cultures, around the
In the 17th century, globalization became a business phenomenon when the
Dutch East India Company, which is often described as the first multinational
corporation, was established. Because of the high risks involved with
international trade, the Dutch East India Company became the first company in the
world to share risk and enable joint ownership of companies through the issuance
of shares of stock: an important driver for globalization.
Globalisation was also achieved by the British Empire (the largest empire in
history) due to its sheer size and power. British ideals and culture were imposed on
other nations during this period.
The 19th century is sometimes called "The First Era of Globalization." It was a
period characterized by rapid growth in international trade and investment between
the European imperial powers, their colonies, and, later, the United States. It was
in this period that areas of sub-saharan Africa and the Island Pacific were
incorporated into the world system. The "First Era of Globalization" began to
break down at the beginning of the 20th century with the first World War, and
later collapsed during the gold standard crisis in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Globalization has been a historical process with ebbs and flows. During the Pre-
World War I period of 1870 to 1914, there was rapid integration of the economies
in terms of trade flows, movement of capital and migration of people. The growth
of globalization was mainly led by the technological forces in the fields of
transport and communication. There were less barriers to flow of trade and people
across the geographical boundaries. Indeed there were no passports and visa
requirements and very few non-tariff barriers and restrictions on fund flows. The
pace of globalization, however, decelerated between the First and the Second
World War. The inter-war period witnessed the erection of various barriers to
restrict free movement of goods and services. Most economies thought that they
could thrive better under high protective walls. After World War II, all the leading
countries resolved not to repeat the mistakes they had committed previously by
opting for isolation. Although after 1945, there was a drive to increased
integration, it took a long time to reach the Pre-World War I level. In terms of
percentage of exports and imports to total output, the US could reach the pre-World
War level of 11 per cent only around 1970. Most of the developing countries
which gained Independence from the colonial rule in the immediate Post-World
War II period followed an import substitution industrialization regime. The Soviet
bloc countries were also shielded from the process of global economic integration.
However, times have changed. In the last two decades, the process of globalization
has proceeded with greater vigour. The former Soviet bloc countries are getting
integrated with the global economy. More and more developing countries are
turning towards outward oriented policy of growth. Yet, studies point out that
trade and capital markets are no more globalized today than they were at the end of
the 19th century. Nevertheless, there are more concerns about globalization now
than before because of the nature and speed of transformation. What is striking in
the current episode is not only the rapid pace but also the enormous impact of new
information technologies on market integration, efficiency and industrial
organization. Globalization of financial markets has far outpaced the integration of
Globalization in the era since World War II is largely the result of planning by
economists, business interests, and politicians who recognized the costs associated
with protectionism and declining international economic integration. Their work
led to the Bretton Woods conference and the founding of several international
institutions intended to oversee the renewed processes of globalization, promoting
growth and managing adverse consequences.
These institutions include the International Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (the World Bank), and the International Monetary Fund.
Globalization has been facilitated by advances in technology which have reduced
the costs of trade, and trade negotiation rounds, originally under the auspices of the
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which led to a series of
agreements to remove restrictions on free trade.
Since World War II, barriers to international trade have been considerably lowered
through international agreements - GATT. Particular initiatives carried out as a
result of GATT and the World Trade Organization (WTO), for which GATT is
the foundation, have included:
· Promotion of free trade:
o Reduction or elimination of tariffs; creation of free trade zones with
small or no tariffs
o Reduced transportation costs, especially resulting from development
of containerization for ocean shipping.
o Reduction or elimination of capital controls
o Reduction, elimination, or harmonization of subsidies for local
· Restriction of free trade:
o Harmonization of intellectual property laws across the majority of
states, with more restrictions.
o Supranational recognition of intellectual property restrictions (e.g.
patents granted by China would be recognized in the United States
The use of the term globalization (in the doctrinal sense), in the context of these
developments has been analysed by many including Noam Chomsky who states
" That enhances what's called "globalization," a term of propaganda used
conventionally to refer to a certain particular form of international integration that
is (not surprisingly) beneficial to its designers: Multinational corporations and the
powerful states to which they are closely linked."
Critics have observed that the term's contemporary usage comprises several
meanings, for example Noam Chomsky states that:
The term "globalization," like most terms of public discourse, has two meanings:
its literal meaning, and a technical sense used for doctrinal purposes. In its literal
sense, "globalization" means international integration. Its strongest proponents
since its origins have been the workers movements and the left (which is why
unions are called "internationals"), and the strongest proponents today are those
who meet annually in the World Social Forum and its many regional offshoots. In
the technical sense defined by the powerful, they are described as "anti-
globalization," which means that they favor globalization directed to the needs and
concerns of people, not investors, financial institutions and other sectors of power,
with the interests of people incidental. That's "globalization" in the technical
Globalization advocates such as Jeffrey Sachs point to the above average drop in
poverty rates in countries, such as China, where globalization has taken a strong
foothold, compared to areas less affected by globalization, such as Sub-Saharan
Africa, where poverty rates have remained stagnant.
Generally, the ideas of free trade, capitalism, and democracy are widely believed
to facilitate globalization. Supporters of free trade claim that it increases
economic prosperity as well as opportunity, especially among developing nations,
enhances civil liberties and leads to a more efficient allocation of resources.
Economic theories of comparative advantage suggest that free trade leads to a
more efficient allocation of resources, with all countries involved in the trade
benefiting. In general, this leads to lower prices, more employment, higher output
and a higher standard of living for those in developing countries
One of the ironies of the recent success of India and China is the fear that... success
in these two countries comes at the expense of the United States. These fears are
fundamentally wrong and, even worse, dangerous. They are wrong because the
world is not a zero-sum struggle... but rather is a positive-sum opportunity in
which improving technologies and skills can raise living standards around the
Libertarians and proponents of laissez-faire capitalism say that higher degrees of
political and economic freedom in the form of democracy and capitalism in the
developed world are ends in themselves and also produce higher levels of material
wealth. They see globalization as the beneficial spread of liberty and capitalism.
Supporters of democratic globalization are sometimes called pro-globalists. They
believe that the first phase of globalization, which was market-oriented, should be
followed by a phase of building global political institutions representing the will of
world citizens. The difference from other globalists is that they do not define in
advance any ideology to orient this will, but would leave it to the free choice of
those citizens via a democratic process
•Income inequality for the world as a whole is diminishing. Due to definitional
issues and data availability, there is disagreement with regards to the pace of the
decline in extreme poverty. As noted below, there are others disputing this. The
economist Xavier Sala-i-Martin in a 2007 analysis argues that this is incorrect,
income inequality for the world as a whole has diminished. . Regardless of who
is right about the past trend in income inequality, it has been argued that
improving absolute poverty is more important than relative inequality
•Life expectancy has almost doubled in the developing world since World
War II and is starting to close the gap between itself and the developed world
where the improvement has been smaller. Even in Sub-Saharan Africa, the least
developed region, life expectancy increased from 30 years before World War II
to about a peak of about 50 years before the AIDS pandemic and other diseases
started to force it down to the current level of 47 years. Infant mortality has
decreased in every developing region of the world.
•Democracy has increased dramatically from there being almost no nations with
universal suffrage in 1900 to 62.5% of all nations having it in 2000.
•Feminism has made advances in areas such as Bangladesh through providing
women with jobs and economic safety.
•The proportion of the world's population living in countries where per-capita
food supplies are less than 2,200 calories (9,200 kilojoules) per day decreased
from 56% in the mid-1960s to below 10% by the 1990s.
•Between 1950 and 1999, global literacy increased from 52% to 81% of the
world. Women made up much of the gap: female literacy as a percentage of
male literacy has increased from 59% in 1970 to 80% in 2000.
•The percentage of children in the labor force has fallen from 24% in 1960 to
10% in 2000.
•There are increasing trends in the use of electric power, cars, radios, and
telephones per capita, as well as a growing proportion of the population with
access to clean water.
•The book The Improving State of the World also finds evidence for that these,
and other, measures of human well-being has improved and that globalization is
part of the explanation. It also responds to arguments that environmental impact
will limit the progress.
Anti-globalization is a term used to describe the political stance of people and
groups who oppose the neoliberal version of globalization.
“Anti-globalization" may involve the process or actions taken by a state in order to
demonstrate its sovereignty and practice democratic decision-making. Anti-
globalization may occur in order to put brakes on the international transfer of
people, goods and ideology, particularly those determined by the organizations
such as the IMF or the WTO in imposing the radical deregulation program of free
market fundamentalism on local governments and populations. anti-globalism
can denote a single social movement that encompasses a number of separate
social movements such as nationalists and socialists. Participants stand in
opposition to the unregulated political power of large, multi-national corporations,
as the corporations exercise power through leveraging trade agreements which
damage in some instances the democratic rights of citizens, the environment
particularly air quality index and rain forests, as well as national governments
sovereignty to determine labor rights including the right to unionize for better
pay, and better working conditions, or laws as they may otherwise infringe on
cultural practices and traditions of developing countries.
Most people who are labeled "anti-globalization" consider the term to be too vague
and inaccurate Podobnik states that "the vast majority of groups that participate in
these protests draw on international networks of support, and they generally call
for forms of globalization that enhance democratic representation, human rights,
Critiques of the current wave of economic globalization typically look at both the
damage to the planet, in terms of the perceived unsustainable harm done to the
biosphere, as well as the perceived human costs, such as increased poverty,
inequality, miscegenation, injustice and the erosion of traditional culture which, the
critics contend, all occur as a result of the economic transformations related to
globalization. They point to a "multitude of interconnected fatal consequences--
social disintegration, a breakdown of democracy, more rapid and extensive
deterioration of the environment, the spread of new diseases, increasing poverty
and alienation"which they claim are the unintended but very real consequences of
The terms globalization and anti-globalization are used in various ways. Noam
Chomsky states that
The term "globalization" has been appropriated by the powerful to refer to a
specific form of international economic integration, one based on investor rights,
with the interests of people incidental. That is why the business press, in its more
honest moments, refers to the "free trade agreements" as "free investment
agreements" (Wall St. Journal). Accordingly, advocates of other forms of
globalization are described as "anti-globalization"; and some, unfortunately, even
accept this term, though it is a term of propaganda that should be dismissed with
ridicule. No sane person is opposed to globalization, that is, international
integration. Surely not the left and the workers movements, which were founded
on the principle of international solidarity - that is, globalization in a form that
attends to the rights of people, not private power systems.
Critics argue that:
o Poorer countries are sometimes at disadvantage: While it is true
that globalization encourages free trade among countries on an
international level, there are also negative consequences because some
countries try to save their national markets. The main export of poorer
countries is usually agricultural goods. It is difficult for these
countries to compete with stronger countries that subsidize their own
farmers. Because the farmers in the poorer countries cannot compete,
they are forced to sell their crops at much lower price than what the
market is paying.
o Exploitation of foreign impoverished workers: The deterioration of
protections for weaker nations by stronger industrialized powers has
resulted in the exploitation of the people in those nations to become
cheap labor. Due to the lack of protections, companies from powerful
industrialized nations are able to offer workers enough salary to entice
them to endure extremely long hours and unsafe working conditions,
though economists question if consenting workers in a competitive
employers' market can be decried as "exploitation". The abundance of
cheap labor is giving the countries in power incentive not to rectify
the inequality between nations. If these nations developed into
industrialized nations, the army of cheap labor would slowly
disappear alongside development. It is true that the workers are free to
leave their jobs, but in many poorer countries, this would mean
starvation for the worker, and possible even his/her family if their
previous jobs were unavailable.
o The shift to service work: The low cost of offshore workers have
enticed corporations to move production to foreign countries. The laid
off unskilled workers are forced into the service sector where wages
and benefits are low, but turnover is high. This has contributed to the
widening economic gap between skilled and unskilled workers. The
loss of these jobs has also contributed greatly to the slow decline of
the middle class which is a major factor in the increasing economic
inequality . Families that were once part of the middle class are forced
into lower positions by massive layoffs and outsourcing to another
country. This also means that people in the lower class have a much
harder time climbing out of poverty because of the absence of the
middle class as a stepping stone.
o Weak labor unions: The surplus in cheap labor coupled with an ever
growing number of companies in transition has caused a weakening of
labor unions. Unions lose their effectiveness when their membership
begins to decline. As a result unions hold less power over corporations
that are able to easily replace workers, often for lower wages, and
have the option to not offer unionized jobs anymore.
The critics of globalization typically emphasize that globalization is a process that
is mediated according to corporate interests, and typically raise the possibility of
alternative global institutions and policies, which they believe address the moral
claims of poor and working classes throughout the globe, as well as environmental
concerns in a more equitable way.
The movement is very broad, including church groups, national liberation factions,
peasant unionists, intellectuals, artists, protectionists, anarchists, those in support
of relocalization and others. Some are reformist, (arguing for a more humane form
of capitalism) while others are more revolutionary (arguing for what they believe
is a more humane system than capitalism) and others are reactionary, believing
globalization destroys national industry and jobs.
One of the key points made by critics of recent economic globalization is that
income inequality, both between and within nations, is increasing as a result of
A chart that gave the inequality a very visible and comprehensible form, the so-
called 'champagne glass' effect, was contained in the 1992 United Nations
Development Program Report, which showed the distribution of global income
to be very uneven, with the richest 20% of the world's population controlling
82.7% of the world's income.
+ Distribution of world GDP, 1989
Quintile of Population Income
Richest 20% 82.7%
Second 20% 11.7%
Third 20% 2.3%
Fourth 20% 1.4%
Poorest 20% 1.2%
Globalization of the Economy
Advances in communication and transportation technology, combined with free-
market ideology, have given goods, services, and capital unprecedented mobility.
Rich countries want to open world markets to their goods and take advantage of
abundant, cheap labor in the Poor countries, policies often supported by elites in
Poor countries. They use international financial institutions and regional trade
agreements to compel poor countries to "integrate" by reducing tariffs, privatizing
state enterprises, and relaxing environmental and labor standards. The results have
enlarged profits for investors but offered pittances to laborers, provoking a strong
backlash from civil society.
General Analysis on Globalization of the Economy
With international trade, financial transfers, and foreign direct investment, the
economy is increasingly internationally interconnected. Analyzes economic
globalization, and examines how it might be resisted or regulated in order to
promote sustainable development.
International Trade and Development
Trade Agreements, such as the FTAA, NAFTA, and CAFTA facilitate
international trade, thereby strongly impacting people at all levels of the economy.
They make trade "free" for Northern exports, without prohibiting the rich
countries' protectionist measures that harm Southern competitors. Such agreements
tend to slow development in poor countries and pull them deeper into poverty.
Trade Agreements, such as the FTAA, NAFTA, and CAFTA facilitate
international trade, thereby strongly impacting people at all levels of the economy.
Rich countries often manage to prioritize their own interests in such agreements,
which tend to harm development of poor countries.
Multilateral Agreement on Investment and Related Initiatives
In May 1995, the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development
committed itself to the immediate start of negotiations aimed at reaching a
Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI).
Transnational corporations have become some of the largest economic entities in
the world, surpassing many states. Their continuous push for liberalization has
driven globalization while challenging environmental, health, and labor standards
in many countries.
Export Processing Zones
Export Processing Zones, sometimes known as maquiladoras or Special Economic
Development Zones, are usually exempt from national taxes, tariff duties and a
wide range of regulations, including those on wages, working conditions, health
protection, environmental safety and trade union rights. Governments have set up
these zones in the hope of attracting investments and creating jobs. But in so doing,
they turn over sovereignty to corporate investors and seriously undermine national
tax and regulatory systems.
Foreign Direct Investment
Transnational corporations and private individuals invest more money abroad than
ever before; foreign direct investment has increased tenfold over the last 20 years.
While many poor countries see foreign capital as a tool for growth, it has often
increased instability and inequality as well.
World Trade Organization
This intergovernmental organization sets and enforces the rules of international
trade. It has become a target of civil society's criticism over its opaque,
undemocratic operating procedures and neo-liberal ideology.
The World Bank's mission is to erradicate poverty by loaning poor countries
money for economic development, but these loans often come with demands of
International Monetary Fund
The IMF was orginally envisoned as a "lender of last resort" for countries
experiencing economic crises. Now, however, the IMF conditions assistance on
neo-liberal reforms that exacerbate poverty.
This explores the different ways to implement global taxes, the need for
democratic oversight and control, the policy shaping effects, the distributive
effects, and the possible use of such taxes to fund the UN, its agencies, and other
programs for worldwide human security and development.
In many countries, the US dollar has become the national currency. In others, the
national currency has been pegged to the US dollar. In still others, major
transactions like real estate usually take place using the dollar. Dollarization
eliminates the possibility of independent national monetary policy and it exposes
countries to policies set in Washington.
Who profits from economic globalisation? What are its
Katie Bayly - Suzi Hall - Carolyn Kolasinski - Jacqueline Lawson - Rie Nakazawa
Phil Lawn defined economic globalisation as “the integration of many national
economies into one single economy through free trade and free capital movement.”
Like the first phase of globalisation (from the mid 19th century to 1914), the
second phase has been characterised by rapid advances in communications and
transportation technology, travel and trade; and by a greater consciousness of the
world as a single place, highlighted by global environmental concerns, more
widespread demands for participatory democracy, concerns about a “race to the
bottom” in labour standards and wages and increased class stratification between
and within countries.
Economic globalisation has provided new opportunities for those with capital to
increase it, creating greater concentration of wealth in the hands of minority elites.
Most international trade and investment takes place within the triad of the US, EU
and Japan, and it is the multinational corporations based in these countries which
have benefited the most from the free trade rules enforced by the WTO, and the
deregulation of financial markets, that have brought financial instability, and hence
exacerbated political corruption and instability, in parts of the world (such as South
Integration with the global economy, measured as an increase in trade relative to
GDP, is not a one-size-fits-all recipe for economic development. This is not just
because economic globalisation sometimes cannot benefit the poorest countries
(and sectors of society) who lack sufficient capital, technology and sound
institutions to underpin economic growth and development. There are many valid
routes to economic growth.
But there are limits to the planet’s capacity to absorb all this so-called ‘growth’.
In the pursuit of economic growth and corporate profits, the natural environment is
often sacrificed and not considered in government policies.
Free trade and economic development
International financial institutions and organisations like the OECD have pushed
the idea that globalisation is an “engine of world growth” in economic terms. They
continue to promote it as a means of economic development for the poorest
countries. But the new “augmented” Washington Consensus laid out by the IMF
may be misguided. It still operates within a narrow rich-country mindset, serving
the interests of those most in control of it, with an eye to further global economic
In its 2002 report, Globalization, Growth and Poverty, the World Bank implies that
integration with the global economy has been the main cause of the rapid economic
growth and poverty reduction seen in those developing countries with the highest
increase in ratio of trade to GDP between the 1970’s and the 1990s. These
countries the Bank calls “new globalizers”.Joseph Stiglitz claims that “the battle
is... to enable more poor countries to integrate into the world economy in ways that
reduce, not increase, inequality and poverty.”
Dollar and Kraay present that the "new globalizers" had the highest GDP per capita
growth rate in the world during the 1990s (an average of 5 percent) but this may
only show that countries which have managed to grow rapidly and reduce poverty,
through various and often idiosyncratic means, have also, perhaps as a
consequence, tended to become more integrated into the global economy, spurring
further economic growth. This is one more illustration of the fact that economic
globalisation gives those who already have the necessary capital, skills and
products new opportunities to increase profits and expand.
Globalization has had an impact on different cultures around the world.
Looking specifically at economic globalization, it can be measured in different
ways. These center around the four main economic flows that characterize
· Goods and services, e.g. exports plus imports as a proportion of national
income or per capita of population
· Labor/people, e.g. net migration rates; inward or outward migration flows,
weighted by population
· Capital, e.g. inward or outward direct investment as a proportion of national
income or per head of population
· Technology, e.g. international research & development flows; proportion of
populations (and rates of change thereof) using particular inventions
(especially 'factor-neutral' technological advances such as the telephone,
As globalization is not only an economic phenomenon, a multivariate approach to
measuring globalization is the recent index calculated by the Swiss think tank
KOF.According to the index, the world's most globalized country is Belgium,
followed by Austria, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The
least globalized countries according to the KOF-index are Haiti, Myanmar the
Central African Republic and Burundi.
A.T. Kearney and Foreign Policy Magazine jointly publish another Globalization
Index. According to the 2006 index, Singapore, Ireland, Switzerland, the U.S.,
the Netherlands, Canada and Denmark are the most globalized, while Egypt,
Indonesia, India and Iran are the least globalized among countries listed.
GLOBALIZATION AND DEMOCRACY
Many people now believe that the advance of globalization is inevitable. Arthur
Schlesinger, Jr. has gone so far as to exclaim, "Globalization is in the saddle and
rides mankind." Hyperbole aside, the critical question is: What are the
implications of globalization for political and economic rights in particular and for
democracy in general? World opinion is sharply divided about the correct answer
to that question.
Those who view globalization negatively argue that it has political and economic
ramifications which will prove detrimental to democracy. Whereas the Industrial
Revolution created more jobs than it destroyed, the Technological Revolution
threatens to destroy more jobs than it creates. Further, it will erect new and rigid
class barriers between the well-educated and the ill-educated. Huge transfers of
wealth from lower-skilled middle class workers to the owners of capital assets and
to a new technological aristocracy will exacerbate the income disparities which
already are evident in developed counties. In less developed countries such a
transfer of wealth, and with it political power, could be devastating, and it could
preclude progress toward democracy.
One strident critic of what he considers to be runaway global capitalism is,
perhaps, a surprising critic. George Soros contends that the "uninhibited pursuit of
self-interest" results in "intolerable inequities and instability.... Although I have
made a fortune in the financial markers, I now fear that the untrammeled
intensification of laissez-faire capitalism and the spread of market values into all
areas of life is endangering our open, democratic society."
Similar worries are voiced by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. who writes:
The Computer Revolution offers wondrous new possibilities for creative
destruction. One goal of capitalist creativity is the globalized economy. One-
unplanned-candidate for capitalist destruction is the nation-state, the
traditional site of democracy. The computer turns the untrammeled market
into a global juggernaut crashing across frontiers, enfeebling national
powers of taxation and regulation, undercutting national management of
interest rates and exchange rates, widening disparities of wealth both within
and between nations, dragging down labor standards, degrading the
environment, denying nations the shaping of their own economic destiny,
accountable to no one, creating a world economy without a world polity.
Cyberspace is beyond national control. No authorities exist to provide
international control. Where is democracy now?
Those who take a pessimistic view of globalization also argue that it is responsible
for a withdrawal from modernity, the resurgence of identity politics and a retreat
from democracy. They allege that when people believe that powerful forces, such
as globalization, are beyond their comprehension and/or control, they retreat into
familiar, comprehensible, and protective units. They congregate in ethnic, tribal, or
religious enclaves. Globalization through the creation of international,
multinational or regional trade and economic institutions can lead to a feeling of
loss of political power by groups within states. The sense of loss of power, in turn,
leads to a fostering of "tribalism and other revived or invented identities and
traditions which abound in the wake of the uneven erosion of national, identities,
national economies and national state policy capacity." The upsurge of religious
fundamentalism is one case in point. The hostility of fundamentalism to freedom of
expression and belief has ominous implications for democracy.
Globalism does have its defenders and they tend to see its potential for
strengthening and extending democracy. Walter Wriston, former Chief Executive
Officer of Citicorp and Chairman of the Economic Policy Advisory Board in the
Reagan administration, is among them. He believes that we are living in the midst
of the third great revolution in human history, the Information Revolution. Like the
Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions which preceded it, this revolution was
sparked by changes in technology. With the invention of computers and advances
in telecommunications, time and distance have been obliterated. However, "instead
of validating Orwell's vision of Big Brother watching the citizen, the third
revolution enables the citizen to watch Big Brother. And so the virus of freedom,
for which there is no antidote, is spread by electronic networks to the four corners
of the Earth."
William Meyer of the University of Delaware who has developed a quantitative
model which attempts to measure the level of enjoyment of civil and political
rights in developing countries has come to a conclusion akin to Wriston's. He
concluded that the technologies of communication and transportation that have
made economic globalization possible also make it possible for the human rights
ethos to spread and take root in all sectors of global civil society. "Universal
human rights represent nothing less than the ethical dimension of the emerging
Another argument advanced to support the contention of a positive relationship
Globalization as Ideology
Globalization is just one of an array of concepts and arguing points that have been
mobilized to advance the corporate agenda. Others have been deregulation and
getting government off our backs, balancing the budget, cutting back entitlements
(non-corporate), and free trade.
Like free trade, globalization has an aura of virtue. Just as "freedom" must be
good, so globalization hints at internationalism and solidarity between countries, as
opposed to nationalism and protectionism, which have negative connotations. The
possibility that cross-border trade and investment might be economically damaging
to the weaker party, or that they might erode democratic controls in both the
stronger and weaker countries, is excluded from consideration by mainstream
economists and pundits.[fn 1] It is also unthinkable in the mainstream that the
contest between free trade and globalization, on the one hand, and "protectionism,"
on the other, might be reworded as a struggle between "protection"--of
transnational corporate (TNC) rights--versus the "freedom" of democratic
governments to regulate in the interests of domestic non-corporate constituencies.
As an ideology, globalization connotes not only freedom and internationalism, but,
as it helps realize the benefits of free trade, and thus comparative advantage and
the division of labor, it also supposedly enhances efficiency and productivity.
Because of these virtues, and the alleged inability of governments to halt
"progress," globalization is widely perceived as beyond human control, which
further weakens resistance
Modernity in its political and social forms refers to increasing specialisation of
societal institutions like political systems, law, economic management, and
education in isolation from religion. Unlike social life in the pre-modern era, in
modernity these functions are carried out free from the overarching influence of
religion. From this perspective, religious fundamentalism - in the sense of a return
to a purist past - is a problem produced by the encounter between modernity and
the Muslim ummah in all its diversity and cultural hybridity. Although the strength
of fundamentalism varies according to the intensity of attitudes towards these
features, it is clear that in a globalising world diversity and cultural crossovers will
become a matter of routine. Instead of eliminating hybridity, this may in fact
transform different Islamic countries and regions into autonomous cultural
systems, thus posing a challenge to the conventional categorical oppositions of 'us'
and 'them', 'Muslim' and 'others'.
This type of development would have far-reaching implications for the Muslim
ummah. Islamic countries in different parts of the world could be transformed into
unique religious and cultural systems, each claiming acceptance and recognition as
authentic traditions of Islam. This transformation may lead to the 'decentering' of
the Muslim world from its supposed cultural and religious centre in the Arabic
Middle East to a multi-centered world. Five such centres of the Islamic world can
already be identified, namely, Arabic Middle Eastern Islam, African Islam, Central
Asian Islam, Southeast Asian Islam and the Islam of the Muslim minorities in the
The Bible and Globalization
What principles of the Bible should bear on our choice of an economic structure?
Can the holding of wealth and living in plenty be morally justified? It is right that a
tiny percentage should enjoy wealth and conform, while a vast majority people life
in misery and poverty? Does the Bible justify exploitation of earth's resources for
the benefit of few people? The Biblical perspective is global: the grand vision of
God unfolded in the creation of heaven and earth culminating in the creation of
humankind in God's own image (Gen. 1:26). Similarly, the Bible ends with the
universal vision of new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21-22). However, the same
Bible plays into the hands of the vested interests to satisfy their unbridled thirst for
power and pleasure at the expense of the right of fellow humans and the earth. A
very powerful biblical teaching is that any economic system that relegates or
marginalizes human life falls short of the divine standards. Each person is created
in God's image and thus worth and valuable for the Creator. Therefore, in
economic life, "any individual, class, caste, nature, gender and community, should
not be regarded as an object whose value is determined by the fundamental of the
market and who may be bought and sole or dispensed with a whim or will of those
who possess economic power, he or she is not to be treated as a means but as an
end." The central preaching of Jesus is the Kingdom of God, a symbol with
universal or global repercussions. It embraces the message that all are brothers and
sisters in the one family of God and demands special concern for the marginalized
people and justice for all. It demands a more equitable distribution of the world's
resources, not the accumulation in the hands of a few. Globalization is definitely
not the way of the Kingdom because it uses human beings as cheap labourers and
does not respect them as person. This value is contrary to the biblical teaching of
Kingdom's value. The Bible upholds a community where justice is expressed in
equality and sharing and affirms a community economic system with reciprocal
sharing and hospitality.
The biblical principle of the use of land and its resources is based on "the earth is
the Lord's and the fullness thereof" (Ps. 24:1). In the biblical principle of the divine
ownership, human beings are stewards and co-workers and not absolute owner.
Human's responsibility is to preserve and `exploit' the earth's fullness judiciously
and wisely for both the present and future generations. Globalization also brings
destruction to the earth. Nature is not to be exploited. It is not an object, but it is
sacred and holy. It is an integral part of the people to be treated with respect and
Globalization destroys society
The media are saturated with reports of violent crimes of all kinds. Some TV
cameras morbidly play their images over the cadavers and blood of the victims.
The frequency of violent crimes and armed robberies has become a plague in
Salvadoran society. But El Salvador is not an exception. Criminal behavior
worldwide has been growing much faster than the population. Only in Japan is
there a diminishing tendency, perhaps thanks to their preventive programs.
Everywhere else, the rise in violent crime is a characteristic of all societies on the
planet. This assertion, which takes us beyond our narrow borders, is not made in
order to console ourselves with the woes of others, but rather in order to
comprehend a universal social phenomenon of which we obviously are a part.
The rise in criminal activity is linked to another universal phenomenon, which is
the globalization of social and economic relations. The forward progress of
markets which favor the few and marginalize the immense majority of humanity is
tearing apart societies and generating new inequalities. Unchecked consumerism
and extreme individualism, unleashed by the marketplace, have considerably
weakened the influence of the family, the community, churches, associations and
even the State on individual citizens. Today, individuals are much more
independent, but what they have gained in independence they have lost in terms of
principles, values and vital reference points for human coexistence. Independence
brings along a conviction that everything is permitted and everything is possible. It
is the freedom of the marketplace taken to its final consequences, which are
turning out to be fatal. The market has unleashed forces which are devouring its
Crime is linked to unemployment, since those who lack a steady job will steal to
feed their families. Thus, crime is closely linked to poverty. As wealth becomes
more concentrated, criminal activity increases. The nations which enjoy a high
GNP, and which have the best-trained and -equipped police in the world (U.S.,
Canada, Australia, Germany) are also suffering some of the highest crime rates.
But that is not all. People also steal out of frustration.
Inequality and the lack of opportunities feed resentment, to such an extent that
frustration is a more powerful motive for stealing than hunger itself. In this way,
crimes against property serve a double function: to redistribute wealth and as social
revenge. Crime not only allows low-income homes to have access to goods usually
only enjoyed by higher-income neighbors, but also gives vent to frustration and
resentment around the lack of opportunities, around inequality and injustice. Thus,
the more skewed a nation's distribution of wealth, the greater the crime rate.
The majority of crimes are committed by urban youth. Furthermore, criminal
activity has increased along with urban areas. Youth emigrate to the cities with the
hope of finding a steady, well-paid job, but their illusions are soon shattered. So,
pressured by hunger, the yearning to find an opportunity and the changes
happening around them, they are inexorably pushed toward crime. Frustration
feeds profound resentments, which helps explain why youths reject education,
church and community, political and social organizations. However, these youth do
not remain isolated, but instead regroup and create subcultures which offer them an
alternative to the society which rejects them and denies them opportunities, but
which at the same time promote a life of crime.
When a young person joins a gang [mara], it means that he or she acknowledges
that other options have been closed off or that those which remain are not
attractive. Street gangs offer youth an environment which fosters criminal activity,
but it is also a space for them to show off their skills, make contacts and find some
sort of mutual protection. Some of these groups operate like informal associations,
but others are very well organized, and follow military, sports, monastic or police
Society tends to consider these people criminals, not only because of their conduct,
but also because of the way in which the authorities, politicians and the media react
to them. The police, in particular, consider their lifestyle as the precursor to a life
of crime. In fact, a confrontational attitude is the most obvious way to encourage
them to behave like criminals.
The use of violence to repress criminal activity is not a good solution. Repressive
violence will not put an end to violent crime. Politicians tend to demand repressive
violence in order to win prestige, to be seen as hard-line and intolerant of violent
crime. It is a highly popular issue, and it has a low political cost. Increasing police
capabilities and improving the administration of justice could be helpful in
investigating and punishing crimes that have already been committed, but they
won't wipe out crime. By the same token, the army also represents no solution
whatsoever. Eradicating violent crime means attacking its causes and not its
The globalization of capital, investment and the marketplace has resulted in the
universalization of violent crime. As wealth becomes evermore concentrated and
the ranks of the poor swell, as attractive opportunities for the slip out of the grasp
of the majority, and as community, religious and institutional links begin to break
with the expansion of individualism, consumerism and freedom, the door opens
wider to violent crime. If we choose to continue with globalization we must be
prepared to coexist with violent crime. The accumulation of wealth in few hands
will produce countless victims, among them even the very same privileged
individuals who benefit from globalization. The principal enemy of a State of law
is globalization. That ideal cannot become a reality as long as the majority of the
people are marginalized and impoverished.
How does globalization affect women?
Many critics fear that globalization, in the sense of integration of a country into
world society, will exacerbate gender inequality. It may harm women-especially in
the South--in several ways:
•Economically, through discrimination in favor of male workers,
marginalization of women in unpaid or informal labor, exploitation of women
in low-wage sweatshop settings, and/or impoverishment though loss of
traditional sources of income.
•Politically, through exclusion from the domestic political process and loss of
control to global pressures.
•Culturally, through loss of identity and autonomy to a hegemonic global
At the same time, globalization affects different groups of women in different
ways, creates new standards for the treatment of women, and helps women's
groups to mobilize. In situations where women have been historically repressed or
discriminated under a patriarchal division of labor, some features of globalization
may have liberating consequences. While in many countries women remain at a
significant disadvantage, the precise role of globalization in causing or
perpetuating that condition is in dispute.
Women "missing" the world--Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar
The impact of globalization on women in informal sectors
The emergence of a global market, with its associated policies of privatization,
"stabilization", and liberalization, has led to the setting up of smaller new
industries with highly flexible organization and simple infrastructure in developing
countries. Closely related to this "informalization" of work is the feminization of
work. Labour-intensive industries move to developing countries where women are
the preferred labour force, because they can be hired at a low wage. Jobs become
available for women, but only as unorganized labourers with no right to form
unions or fight for their basic rights: the situation of women working in the
garment industry is a case in point. Low-skilled jobs with low wages, long hours of
work and lack of job security are typical of the feminization of labour in
unorganized sectors. The state generally supports the management and ignores any
violation of the labour laws.
It is clear that the women are being exploited, but they may not raise their voices -
not even against the sexual harassment they may face in the work place.
Beauty pageants and globalization
Patriarchy introduces new enemies within one's own territory using definitions of
ideal femininity/womanliness. Women are asked to compare their beauty with one
another: "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" Indian women,
for whom the beauty pageant was once an alien concept, are today successfully
drawn into the globalized capitalist system, which convinces them that it is a
matter of freedom and choice and not a gender issue. Such is the power of
patriarchy that anyone who recognizes the face of the demon and attempts to
exorcize it, calling it by name, risks being condemned as a deviant, destructive
element in society.
A woman is identified in terms of her body. Globalization and its impact through
the media have defined the ideal body of a "universal" and a "world" woman in
India. One of the characteristics of globalization is fragmentation. The cosmetic
industry will be helped only if the beauty of a woman is fragmented into her hair,
teeth, skin, toe-nails etc. The concept of beauty is standardized as slim, tall, fair,
blonde, blue-eyed, etc. An ideal feminine body is defined in terms of its slender
shape. "Beauty can never be celebrated by the new global culture. It can only be
Global watchers and feminist critics say that there is a direct link between the 1991
announcement by the then finance minister, Manmohan Singh, that India would
open its markets to the outside world and the victories of Aishwarya Rai as Miss
World and Sushmita Sen as Miss Universe in 1994. The two beauty queens were
indeed the ambassadors to welcome the giants of the global economy to India. If
there were only five cosmetics products to choose from before the opening,
suddenly there was an influx of cosmetics companies. The excise on cosmetics was
lowered from 120 per cent to 40 per cent in three years, while the tariffs on water,
electricity and fuel shot up. Women in the villages were also searching for "fair,
ever fair and lovely". The craving for "whiteness" became an obsession.
The newspapers and other marriage bureaux also reveal the discriminatory gender
slant in announcing the need for a bride or a groom. A girl who is "fair" in
complexion stands more to gain than one who is "dark". Advertisements for
cosmetics also promise the buyer that constant use of certain cosmetics would
make the women look "fair and lovely". Thus there is a practice of apartheid of a
different kind within Indian society where white/fair skin is celebrated, preferred
against the dark/black skin. There is no formal law (yet) that punishes those guilty
of discrimination based on skin colour.
In the United States, this commodification of the woman's body extends to children
as well. "The little girls strut their stuff in lipstick and tight dresses, even pull out
their baby teeth to win big bucks and fame... Eating disorders and depression -
particularly if the girls don't grow up to be beauties - are among the most common
ailments that plague pre-teen pageant contestants... There are some 500 pre-teen
pageants a year in the United States and some of the bigger state-wide contests pay
out over a million dollars in prizes". The unethical values connected with this
commodification of the body are clear in the case of young Jon Benet Ramsey, a
"Little Miss Colorado", who was murdered after sexual assault. She was six years
Nelia Sancho of the Philippines, who was crowned as beauty queen of Asia-Pacific
a few years ago, has words of pain and caution to all women:
"After being crowned "Queen of the Pacific" in an international beauty contest
held in Australia, I was thrown into a dizzying world of travel and excitement. But
also of drudgery and humiliation. As I went from one place to another and met
different kinds of people, it became more and more evident that people only
expected me to smile and look pretty; nobody expected me to have any intelligence
at all, and after the preliminary greetings, nobody tried to have any sort of
intelligent conversation with me. That was when I began to see that people saw me
as nothing more than a pretty object to beautify a room or add atmosphere to a
gathering or event. The most eye-opening experience of all is the way in which I
had to promote one product after another which made me start to question the
whole woman-product equation. After my reign, I began to more fully study the
link between the market economy and the profit motive behind beauty pageants
with the objectification of women. Women in a global market economy set-up are
just another commodity to be bought and sold at a price."
Today, Nelia is one of the prominent voices calling women to challenge these
forces of exploitation.
Differential Impacts on Women
The impact of economic globalisation on women needs to be assessed in light of
women’s multiple roles as productive and reproductive labour in their families, as
well as their contributions towards overall community cohesion and welfare, and
maintaining the social fabric. Because of deep-rooted differences in gender roles
and socio-cultural expectations, the impacts of economic globalisation are felt
quite differently by women and men. While economic class, race and culture are
also extremely important factors in determining the nature and extent of impacts,
by and large, the very same policies and trends are likely to have quite different
implications for women and men. I will restrict my observations to Asia.
Research in the 1980s and 1990s showed that structural adjustment policies
promoted by the World Bank and IMF affected women much more deeply than
men. The elimination of public subsidies for health, education and other social
services resulted in a transference of the "welfare" function of the state onto
families, and by extension onto girls and women. This trend became entrenched as
governments continued to cut back on social spending, thus increasing the burden
of caring for vulnerable community members (such as children, the aging, disabled
persons or those with illness) on families. Because of women’s traditional roles in
most societies in Asia as care-givers, this burden has been disproportionately borne
by women than men.
In many countries, when public hospitals are privatised or the cost of professional
health care goes up, middle to low income families rely more on informal or
traditional forms of care. This is usually provided by the female members of
households and communities because of women’s traditional roles as service
providers in the home.
If basic education is privatised or if families cannot afford the rising costs of
education, it is more often girls who drop out of school than boys because of
beliefs that boys need formal education more than girls to prepare them for their
future social roles. This has further implications for the type of employment that
women are able to find when they move into the wage labour market. With lower
levels of education, women will tend to be concentrated in the lower rungs of the
labour market and in jobs that require less formal training or education. The
replacement of manual labour with machines and new technology usually displaces
more women than men since women have a larger education gap to cross
compared with men (in the same class) in order to learn how to use new
Similarly, increases in the prices of food, fuel and essential services such as water
and electricity place extra burdens on females in low income households since
women are usually responsible for managing domestic food and water
consumption, as well as ensuring the overall health of their families. Female
children are generally expected to perform more housework than male children and
in poor families, the labour of girls in cooking, cleaning, child care, and caring for
the elderly or sick family members is essential for household maintenance, and
also to free up the time of older women who need to find wage labour.
Trade liberalisation has also been shown to have differential impacts on women
and men. An essential aspect of trade liberalisation is export competitiveness and
much of this competitiveness in Asian countries has come from the labour of
women. The development of export processing zones in the 1980s and 1990s in
developing countries eager to industrialise was premised on the availability of
cheap, docile, unskilled labour that would be willing to work at low wages for long
hours. Given a longer history of men’s involvement in industrialised production,
union organising and political negotiations in the labour market, these export
processing zones targeted women as the primary work-force, relying on local
cultural and social values as domesticating forces.
Research shows that no country in Asia has been able to expand its manufacturing
capacity without pulling an increasing proportion of women into industrial waged
employment. In the early 1990s, women accounted for more than 43 percent of the
manufacturing work force in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and
Thailand. The manufacturing sector in itself accounted for more than 20 percent of
GDP in these countries. In the Thai export sector, women accounted for 90 per
cent of the workforce in the canned seafood industry and 85 percent in the garment
and accessory industry.
In the transition countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam, women’s labour is
considered a significant element of their "comparative advantage" in export
oriented manufacturing, as gvernments invite investors to establish manufacturing
bases in their countries in an order to integrate with regional and global economies.
While export industries offer women opportunities for employment and income,
the unregulated and competitive nature of these trade regimes also means that
women’s labour is often unprotected and dispensable. Few governments have, or
are willing to enforce legislation that ensures women workers in this sector with
fair living wages, benefits, occupational safety and opportunities for upgrading
Another area where women have made significant contributions to local and
national economies is through the informal sector. A significant portion of
economic activity in Asian countries is not fully counted and does not show up in
national census or survey figures, since it is conducted by women in their homes or
in small community level production units. These activities range from the sale of
vegetables, locally processed food and other goods (artificial flowers, accessories,
etc.) to piece work for factories, and the provision of services such as cleaning,
cooking, caring for the elderly, childcare, etc. It is important to note that in many
Asian countries (e.g., Thailand, Lao PDR, Phillipines, Sri Lanka, India and
Pakistan), a large portion of informal sector activities are commercialised or
"marketised" versions of women’s traditional skills of maintaining and reproducing
the family and community spheres.
While some of these activities are self-owned or self-regulated (i.e., women have
reasonable control over production conditions), many are under sub-contract
arrangements in which women are at the mercy of brokers who determine
production and compensation rules. This is particularly the case in sub-contracted
production for the manufacturing sector, which is generally organised around
contracting agents who receive production contracts from larger agents and then
sub-contract the work to the women workers. These workers would then perform
the work in their homes, or in small production units set up by the principle
contractor. A distinguishing feature of such work is that for both cultural and
economic reasons, workers cannot and do not organise themselves in unions or
associations to protect their rights as workers. Principle contractors are often
people known and respected in the community, and take on the persona of
"patrons" who bestow favours on community members through economic
opportunities, etc. On the other hand, contractors may be from outside the
neigbourhood or community, and will simply go elsewhere if workers decide to
organise and negotiate as a group.
Many researchers argue that there is a growing "informalisation" of labour in the
export manufacturing sector, and that this informalisation taps into women’s needs
to balance their productive and reproductive responsibilities. Economic
opportunism and profits are served by local culture and tradition, which serve as
domesticating forces and ensure a supply of cheap and manageable labour. Further,
the expansion of this type of sub-contracted production has increased with the
globalisation of production, and trade and investment liberalisation. On one hand,
the informal sector has provided women with much needed income, which in some
instances also enhances their status in their families and communities. But at the
same time, the inability to organise as a group in such employment makes it
extremely difficult for women to negotiate better compensation, working
conditions and labour protection for themselves.
The liberalisation of the agriculture sector has also affected women in a variety of
ways, from losing access to local markets for their products to dislocation from
traditional forms of livelihood, outward migration and re-settlement. Under trade
liberalisation agreements (such as in the WTO) developing countries are bound to
import a percentage of agriculture and food products for domestic consumption.
The developing countries of Asia are primarily rural economies where at least 50
percent of agriculture and food production is done by women. Local and national
food security is dependant on domestic production, which in turn ensures
livelihood security for rural families. Obligatory imports of agricultural (especially
food) products, accompanied by reduction in tariffs on imported goods and the
removal of price controls creates pressure on making local goods "competitive"
with imported goods (which are often subsidised in their countries of origin). This
has negative impacts on food and livelihood security for domestic producers,
leading to increased economic hardship for rural families and a gradual weakening
of rural, self-reliant economic structures. Again, because of women’s dual roles as
productive and reproductive labour, this burden is borne more heavily by women
Another crucial area that is affected by trade liberalisation and privatisation
regimes is natural resources, particularly in relation to bio-diversity and traditional
knowledge. A huge proportion of rural communities in Asia are subsistence
producers who live off common lands and resources, and rely on traditional
knowledge of local forests, plants, animals and fish for food and income. In these
communities, women are usually responsible for meeting the family’s daily food
and livelihood needs, and are veritable storehouses of knowledge about local bio-
diversity and traditional extraction practices. But with commercial harvesting of
natural resources for value added production, increase in plantation and mono-
cropping for export markets, and transference of land, water and resource rights to
private companies, both bio-diversity and environmental quality are seriously
threatened, and local communities are alienated from the resource base they
The loss of local plant and animal species is a serious blow to women since they
rely on seasonal diversity and variation to ensure food, income and health for their
families. When communities are displaced or relocated from traditional lands to
make way for commercial enterprises, women are particularly disempowered since
their sphere of activity is usually limited to local forests, rivers and common lands.
Reduced access to these lands and resources, and reduced availability of local
foods increases women’s work-load of family maintenance. The introduction of
new resource tenure systems often marginalises women from access to and control
over all types of resources—natural, economic and political.
Bio-piracy and the patenting of women’ traditional knowledge of biodiversity and
production processes by private corporations also disempowers women in very
particular ways. Not only are women’s intellectual contributions to science,
technology and modern know-how not recognised, but also, they are compelled to
pay for the very resources that they have nurtured and protected for generations as
these resources enter markets in the form of medicines and processed foods.
While women in such situations face the danger of losing ownership and control
over their indigenous resources through trade liberalisation, they do not necessarily
gain access to new resources. Patents on products derived from local bio-diversity
do not involve royalty payments to women and their communities who have
stewarded and built a store of knowledge about these resources. Nor are women
compensated for the "opportunity" costs of losing access to their primary sources
of food and livelihood. The introduction of new, valued adding production
technologies does not necessarily benefit rural women since they usually have
neither the required capital nor the base of education and skills required to take
advantage of these changes. Unless accompanied by deliberate measures to transfer
new technologies and know how to women, the introduction of new technologies
often displaces them from traditional areas of autonomy and control
The above are just some examples of how women are affected by economic
globalisation. The range of impacts is both vast and complex, and these impacts
vary across countries, social and economic status, culture, and also across time.
What were considered opportunities ten years ago may be considered threats today,
as in the case of some types of export processing zones, commercial agricultural
production practices, etc. Further, it can be argued that the forces of economic
globalisation impact women at two broad levels. First, at the immediate
experiential level such as lowered wages, reduced access to land and resources,
less food, greater workload, etc. And second, at a more "structural" or strategic
level, where impacts are not necessarily visible today, but which lead to a longer-
term disempowerment of women.
Gaps in Knowledge
One of the biggest challenges of tracing and fully understanding the ways in which
globalisation affects women is the absence of sex-disaggregated indicators and
data in key sectors such as agricultural production and employment, services, and
the informal sector. While independent researchers and institutions such as
UNIFEM are gathering information and showing how women are affected by
current economic trends, many of the indicators and methods used to monitor these
trends are in and of themselves not gender sensitive. For example, internationally
accepted indicators of income-related poverty do not provide information on the
particular incidence of poverty among women (what is called the "feminisation of
poverty"). While household surveys on consumption or spending can provide sex-
disaggregated data, they cannot measure or take into consideration gender
inequality within households, which is usually a significant factor in the manner
and the degree to which women are affected by new opportunities and trends.
The above gaps in information also have serious consequences for the development
of women-friendly national and global economic and social policies, and in
transforming the forces of economic globalisation to be beneficial rather than
hostile to women. While there is plenty of "evidence" that liberalisation,
privatisation and deregulation have disproportionately affected women negatively
(particularly in lower income groups), this evidence is not accepted as valid by
policy makers since it does not fit into their accepted frameworks and analytical
practices. At the same time, the knowledge base that informs national and global
policy making is blind not only to gender differences, but also to the political
disadvantages that result from differences in race, class, culture and ethnicity.
The full measure of impacts of economic globalisation on women, and the
development of progressive policy measures to counter these measures will not
receive the attention it deserves until this dominant knowledge base is challenged
Challenges, Pressures, Threats and Opportunities
Change as a Way of Life
The changes that have occurred in the post-World War II period have completely
reshaped social and economic structures, bringing national governments into a
global, knowledge-based economy and society. Governments recognize that these
changes will continue and that the pace of change will continue to accelerate.
Standing still, or trying to create a steady state, will mean falling behind and
becoming uncompetitive in the global marketplace. A further complication of
falling behind is the inability of governments to anticipate and recognize potential
problems and opportunities, and to take appropriate action to protect their citizens
and/or capitalize on the opportunities.
Accelerating changes in the global economy are creating a new environment in
which governments must operate and to which federal S&T must contribute. (For
example, in Canada, R&D spending by industry is growing faster than in any other
member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD). The change that this implies in the nature and dynamics of the Canadian
innovation system means that the government S&T effort must be flexible and
adaptable in order to keep pace). These changes are creating both opportunities and
threats for governments and the S&T required to support them. Underlying this
situation is a shift in the “policy environment” (including public expectations
concerning what federal S&T can and should provide), making it significantly
different from when the federal S&T system was established.
This environment of continuous change is characterized by a number of factors
that are shaping the global economy and the place of governments within it. These
factors are outlined below.
A key characteristic of the process of globalization is the accelerating integration
of all markets, domestic and foreign. There are no longer any "safe" domestic
markets, where firms are protected from competitors by tariff walls. The forces of
globalization are also changing the context for government S&T activities. Policy
decisions must be backed up with world-class science and technology. S&T is
playing a more prominent role in trade disputes and their resolution. Pressures for
global harmonization of standards and regulations require that national S&T
activities meet international standards. In order for national governments to be able
to enforce a unique national identity and economic sovereignty in the global
marketplace, they must be able to back up their policies with internationally
accepted science. In short, national S&T efforts, facilities and equipment need to
be world-class in the academic, private sector and government arenas.
Increased Public Expectations
Canadians look to their governments for assurance that their interests are being
addressed (i.e. health and safety, security, economic and social well-being, etc.).
While the amount and quality of information available for independent decision
making is better now than in the past, Canadians still look to the government to
take action where the available information is incomplete, or is overwhelming in
volume and/or complexity.
Also, there are many areas where national decisions are required for which
Canadians rely on the federal government to ensure the proper, fair functioning of
the marketplace. They also look to their governments to provide other services in
the public interest such as research, education, defence, a supportive business
environment, social programs and infrastructure. These factors have raised public
expectations concerning what government can and should be doing, as well as the
level of involvement the public should have in government decision making.
Increasingly, openness, transparency and internationally recognized excellence in
both science and decision making are expected by citizens.
Advances in Knowledge and Technological Change
The pace of technological change and the rate of advancement in knowledge are
unprecedented and appear likely to continue to accelerate. New products and
technologies often require new types of regulatory responses or new needs for
regulatory science. (Biotechnology is a prime example.) Governments need to be
able to keep pace with these developments to ensure the safety of their citizens and
the environment, and to ensure that commercial development is not adversely
affected by government delays in product/process approvals. In some rapidly
advancing, technology-intensive fields, government scientists need a level of
expertise that often requires hands-on, continuing experience in leading-edge
research to understand the results they are required to assess.
Knowledge-based Economy and Society
The central role of knowledge and S&T in economic growth and social progress is
changing the dynamics of these processes and the role of governments in them.
Increasingly, governments are focusing on the strategic role of innovation systems
and the linkages between the players within them. With science and technology
being basic components of most public policy issues, there are increased
expectations and demands for a major contribution from federal S&T capabilities.
A key characteristic of the knowledge-based economy and society is the growing
functional identity and market value of knowledge. Knowledge-intensive goods
and services tend to be higher value added, while less knowledge-intensive goods
and services tend to be lower value added. Another key characteristic is that
knowledge itself is the foundation of business competitiveness.
Pressures to Control Government Spending
Governments around the world are being pressured by their citizens to reduce
government spending and to ensure top value for that spending. There is much
stronger pressure to demonstrate clear needs for federal investments in S&T.
Governments are under pressure to prioritize their spending on S&T and/or to try
innovative approaches to meeting their S&T needs.
Diversity of Options
The rationale for performing S&T within government needs to be based on a
demonstration that the work is relevant to specific needs of government; that it
can be done more effectively and/or efficiently in government facilities than
elsewhere; and that, if the government did not do it, it would either not get done,
or else would be done in a manner or a time frame that is not suitable for
responding to the needs of the government.
Federal laboratories are no longer the primary sources of S&T facilities and
expertise in Canada. With strong S&T capabilities available in universities and the
private sector, decision makers have many more options for accessing the S&T
knowledge they require. They can fund work in universities, contract it out to
industry, or access it internationally, either from foreign laboratories, or, in some
instances, over the Internet. Thus, the rationale for performing S&T within
government needs to be based on a demonstration that the work is relevant to
specific needs of government; that it can be done more effectively and/or
efficiently in government facilities than elsewhere; and that, if the government did
not do it, it would either not get done, or else would be done in a manner or a time
frame that is not suitable for responding to the needs of the government.
It is important to note that the federal government needs to have a degree of
scientific and/or technological capacity to exercise the option of outsourcing the
research. The government department or agency should have a clear understanding
of its needs for the specific scientific or technology research and/or development. It
also needs to have a capability for a clear understanding of the results of the S&T
work, their implications for the required decisions, and their strengths and
weaknesses. It must also have the ability to assess the quality of the work with
reference to leading-edge standards.
The International Experience
It is interesting that all of the governments surveyed have this active in-house
R&D function, including even the highly privatesector- oriented governments.
Governments around the world are all experiencing the impacts of this changing
knowledge-based context for governance. We commissioned a review of the
international experience on this subject. It was clear from this review that different
taking different approaches in dealing with these challenges, based on their
political systems and the historical development of their S&T systems. (For
example, the United States system has a strong private sector orientation, while
France’s central government performs a substantive amount of S&T work it
believes to be needed either internally by the government or by its private sector
Another finding is that governments of all OECD countries (with the exception of
New Zealand) have some in-house R&D capability. In smaller countries, this
capability is a relatively important fraction of the overall national R&D system; in
larger countries, in-house R&D is a relatively smaller fraction. However, it is
interesting that all of the governments surveyed have this active in-house R&D
function, including even the highly private-sector-oriented governments such as
the United States.
Globalization: The opportunities
Jobs are being created as business opportunities increase with the reduction of
trade barriers and the decentralization of production to take advantage of benefits
specific to the location of their facilities (e.g., low-cost unskilled and skilled
labour). The most striking is the case of export processing zones (EPZs), as
Other developments are the subcontracting of activities by companies, greater
specialization and new forms of work organization. All have some positive direct
and indirect effects on employment. The spread of subcontracting has generated at
least 200 million jobs worldwide. New forms of work organization have been
accompanied by a rise in non-standard forms of employment, with advantages for
certain groups. Workers with family responsibilities, highly skilled professionals,
migrants and adults undergoing some form of training have been able to opt for
part-time, temporary, home-based and fixed-term employment.
Greater specialization and the widespread application of advanced technologies
have stimulated a rise in demand for skilled labour in fields such as information
technology (IT), specialized financial and other business services, materials
engineering and biotechnology. On the whole, job opportunities for women in
high-growth sectors remain limited, mainly because of lack of required skills.
Available evidence suggests that as a group, women are lagging behind when it
comes to the gains from globalization. What accounts for this? Certain structural
factors, among others, help to explain:
•Technological change and specialized production strategies tend to favor
skilled and well-educated workers - a category in which women are severely
•Investing in skills in those segments of the labour market in which women are
predominant are considered to yield lower returns. Therefore, opportunities for
skills upgrading at the enterprise level are fewer than those which exist for men
•Whether they are in export-oriented or import-competing industries, women
are in jobs which are more likely to be subcontracted, relocated abroad or
eliminated by labour-saving technologies
•Amid growing competitive pressures, new forms of work organization are
being introduced by many enterprises as part of their efficiency-enhancing and
cost-saving strategies. This leads to a rise in non-standard employment; i.e.,
lack of job security (certain enterprises do not give written employment
contracts), limited possibilities for training and career advancement, and
inadequate social security coverage in terms of old-age pensions, sickness
insurance and maternity protection
•The traditional gender disparities in wages appear to be widening in
globalizing economies. This may be explained by the cumulative effects of
persistent discriminatory practices, a deepening polarization of skilled and
unskilled labour with women being caught in a "low-skilled/low-paid jobs
trap", and low unionization rates which exclude them from the coverage of
collective agreements which set basic pay rates and working conditions
Some degree of government intervention, with the involvement of the social
partners, would seem justifiable in order to attain the twin goals of growth and
equity. Measures may include:
•Passing equality-promoting legislation to protect women against
discriminatory practices with respect to recruitment, remuneration and
•Strengthening labour inspection services to monitor the implementation of
national labour standards
•Extending collective agreements to cover non-organized workers in specific
sectors and industries where pay and working conditions compare unfavourably
with those of organized workers in the same sectors and industries
•Reforming social insurance systems to enable workers in non-standard
employment to have better coverage
•Improving social "safety nets" to guarantee minimum standards of protection
for vulnerable groups such as the working poor, the long-term unemployed and
•Setting enrollment and graduation targets for girls and women in educational
institutions at all levels, with a view to raising knowledge and skills which
would enhance their employability
•Instituting curriculum reforms, scholarship programmes and advisory services,
to orient women to disciplines and training programmes in fields for which
labour demand is forecast to grow
•Encouraging social dialogue and active participation by employers' and
workers' organizations in policymaking, and developing programmes which
•Improving women's access to enterprise-based apprenticeship programmes and
on-the-job training for workers
•Targeting the retraining of women in non-traditional fields and providing
various forms of assistance to those women wishing to set up their own
businesses, paying particular attention to rural-based women who want to
diversify into non-farm activities
•Providing adequate child care and other services to facilitate women's
employment and labour market re-entry after interruptions for family-related
Gender inequalities in the labour market and at the level of the workplace are not
new, but the changes associated with globalization appear to be accentuating the
effects of attitudinal, policy-related and structural factors which have long
interacted to limit women's social and economic progress. The appropriate mix of
policies for addressing these issues will necessarily differ across countries, but
there are four "social pillars" which ought to underpin whatever measures may be
taken to spread the gains from globalization among workers in general, and women
workers in particular.
Does globalization cause poverty?
Many people who are concerned about the fate of the world's poor now attribute
their plight to globalization. They argue that globalization has weakened the
position of poor countries and exposed poor people to harmful competition. Their
concern is understandable, especially since the gap between rich and poor has
indeed become more glaring in recent decades. However, proving a direct link
between economic globalization and poverty is a complex task for several reasons:
Globalization as a single cause. Specifying how globalization affects the
economic status of countries or individuals is not easy. The effects of
"globalization" may be due to competition among workers, or foreign investment,
or trade, or government borrowing. There is no single measure of integration into
the world economy. Each aspect of integration can have variable effects.
Poverty as a multidimensional phenomenon. Poverty can be measured in different
ways-for example, relative to a country's average, by consumption capacity, or in
terms of overall well-being. Many people in many places historically have been
poor for many reasons. Attributing (increases in) poverty to globalization therefore
requires proving that globalization has become a dominant factor in producing a
new kind of poverty.
Globalization and overall global poverty. By common consent, globalization has
proceeded rapidly since the 1980s. Yet according to the recent Global Poverty
Report, the proportion of the world population living in poverty has declined from
29% in 1988 to 26% in 1998. Moreover, social indicators for many poor countries
also show improvement over several decades.
Globalization and poverty in specific countries. If globalization causes poverty,
then countries that become more economically integrated via trade and investment
should do worse. But some that have become more integrated into the world
economy, such as China, have made progress. Others, for example in sub-Saharan
Africa, that have remained relatively isolated have experienced declines. Such
overall differences do not settle the issue, since many other factors may be at work,
but they do cast some doubt on the overall argument.
Poverty vs. inequality. There is ample evidence that the gap between the richest
and poorest countries, and between the richest and poorest groups of individuals in
the world, has increased. But inequality may increase without an increase in
poverty rates, for example if globalization increases opportunities for the wealthy
more rapidly than for the poor. Since increasing wealth may be due to many
causes, showing that the rich get richer because the poor get poorer is trickier than
recording and lamenting the fact of inequality as such.
Globalization as catchall. One characteristic of arguments linking globalization
and poverty is the generalization from specific instances of impoverishment to
grand global developments. When governments assume debt in private capital
markets and declining world demand for their commodities depresses prices and
they seek funds from the IMF to repay loans and they agree to conditions for
internal reform and these conditions impose hardship on their people, it is tempting
to conclude that therefore "globalization" causes poverty.
Can globalization be controlled?
The issue of controlling or regulating globalization concerns elite officials of states
and intergovernmental organizations as well as opponents of neoliberalism in
pursuit of global justice. They often share a sense that the current thrust of
globalization may be irreversible and out of anyone's control. They have several
good reasons to think so:
•one of globalization's driving forces, technological innovation, is inherently
•globalization results from the interplay of many parties (economic and
political), none of which exerts dominant influence
•old regulatory agencies devised by states cannot control processes that exceed
their territorial authority
•apart from minimal rules of competition itself, the world lacks a single set of
rules that serves to regulate transnational behavior
This concern has given rise to a now-fashionable interest in "global governance,"
or the design of institutions that authoritatively manage and regulate actions,
processes, and problems of global scope or effect. While some believe such
governance is desirable but lacking, others think it is in fact emerging in the work
of various international organizations and groups active in civil society. Though
advocates of global governance portray it as enhancing democracy, defenders of
traditional democratic values and state interests have questioned such claims.
Challenges for Theological Education
We have looked into some of the positive and negative aspects of globalization. It
is a process that is inescapable and irreversible. We have to go through it. We have
to transform it to meet a new future with hope. We need to be critical of the
problems linked to the globalization process and affirm certain priorities while
descerning God's purpose in this world.
So much have been written in the area of globalization and theological education.
Theological education have to move into new areas such as globalization, the