Globalization and its Discontents
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It is necessary to stress that globalization has influenced practically each sphere of life and all people in the world. Information and new opportunities have become available for everyone. This fact changes people’s lives and points of view upon different notions. Especially this concerns the most flexible category of people – the youth. Their lifestyle and culture are globalized because of the development of markets, exchange educational programs, and international technologies. This is the major reasons why the majority of young people from all countries are alike. They wear similar clothes, listen to the similar music, and prefer similar food. It means that youth culture is globalized and it is impossible to stop this process.
Globalization involves the acceleration and intensification of social activities and exchanges. Through the Internet, distant information is revealed in the shortest time possible and consumers are provided with a real picture of remote events with the help of satellites. According to Soep’s point of view, “worldwide social relations are intensified now. This means that local occurrences are formed by distant events and vice versa”. The creation, expansion and intensification of social interconnections and interdependencies do not occur merely on at objective material level. According to Roland Robertson’s point of view, globalization processes also involve the subjective plane of human consciousness. It should be noted that globalization also refers to those people, who are cautious about social interactions and their manifestation (Soep, 2011).
The term “globalization” is frequently applied by both scientists and ordinary people. The notion under analysis appeared in the 1960s and was used to describe some process, condition, force and system (Lechner, 2001). However, it is still very difficult to find out the best explanation for the term under consideration. Globalization should be applied to define a set of social processes. The latter alter the present human social condition into some global process, into a better condition for normal existence. Actually, globalization is applied to describe various forms of human existence and cooperation.
It should be noted that globalization is a dynamical process. Perhaps, that is why it is so difficult to choose the most suitable explanation for it. This term is applied to describe the movement towards improvement, a better way of living, and a greater level of independence and autonomy. This social process involves every member of society.
It is impossible to study globalization deeply without learning the information about its qualities. Steger states that there are four major characteristics of the term under consideration. They are the following:
- Globalization demonstrates the appearance of multiplication of all existing activities and social networks. They increasingly overcome habitual economic, political, geographical and cultural restrictions.
- The notion of globalization describes a wider field of social relations, activities, and interdependences.
- Globalization means the acceleration and intensification of certain social activities and exchanges.
- Globalization is closely connected with people, who are well-aware of the extensive acceleration of social interactions and growing indications of social interdependence.
The above-mentioned characteristics of globalization become the basis for more detailed definition of this term suggested by Water. According to his point of view, “globalization can be defined as the term that refers to a multidimensional set of social processes that create, multiply, stretch, and intensify worldwide social interdependencies and exchanges, while at the same time fostering in people a growing awareness of deepening connections between the local and the distant” (Waters, 2001).
To see the development of globalization in culture and politics, it is better to investigate the major periods of this process. There are five periods of the development of globalization. They are as follows:
- The Prehistoric Period. It began in South America and is considered to be the earliest stage of globalization. It was a true cultural breakthrough, because people started to produce food on their own. A lot of plants and animals were used for domestication. The continental difference of the area and the total population size appeared. There were several ideal areas for living. They were situated in north-central China, north-western India, the Fertile Crescent, New Guinea and North Africa.
- The Pre-modern Period. The major characteristic feature of this period was the invention of writing. It became a huge step forward. It appeared in Mesopotamia, Egypt and Central China. Parallel to this event was the invention of the wheel in Southwest Asia. These two inventions moved people to a new level of development. The same happened with culture and politics. This era became the age of empires. The Chinese Empire turned to be the most successive state in the world. Actually, it became prosperous because of imported and exported goods.
- The Modern Period. The peculiarity of this period was the incorporation of Australian and Pacific islands into the European-dominated network of political, economic, and cultural cooperation. The trade increased; therefore, there were considerable economic changes. The growth of industry, navigation, communication and railroads took place.
- The Contemporary Period. The global economic order and transnational corporations appeared. There were a lot of international economic institutions, which emerged during this period. This very period demonstrates that globalization has been constantly going on (Lechner, 2001).
Nowadays youth culture operates as a global phenomenon and there are certain explanations of this. First of all, practically all the youth from different countries knows the English language. It is globalized as it is applied everywhere. One needs to know this language, because it is spoken by many people and is considered to be an international one.
Today if one wants to get a good job with splendid career opportunities, he/she should be proficient in English. It is a guarantee of success. That is why, all young people, who are eager to earn much money, learn English and communicate with other learners from different parts of the world. Therefore, the globalization of the English language made the youth communicate with peers from other countries and learn more about other cultures. Such an exchange of information caused the appearance of various similarities among the youth all over the world. The rapid development of computer technologies, BBC translation all over the world, and the appearance of such social networks as Facebook unite young people belonging to different cultures. They exchange information and undergo the process of globalization.
Nowadays it is prestigious to go abroad in order to get more experience and learn new approaches to do something. In the majority of cases, employers choose young people to send to another country. It turns out that the youth does not only go abroad to learn information, which the company needs, but also to adapt to new people with an unknown culture. Going abroad this way means that a young person gets something from an unknown country and brings this information home together with a completed project for the company.
The influence of globalization can be demonstrated with the help of another argument as well. Youth culture also undergoes globalization when a young person goes to another country to get education. Students have more free time for a rest and communication than those, who go abroad on business. They exchange hobbies, clothes they wear, and points of view upon life. In the majority of cases, such things are remembered during all life. Therefore, it is practically impossible to avoid the influence of globalization if a young person goes to another country to study and get new experience.
It is known that globalization opened a wide range of possibilities to get information and exchange it. Plus, the development of telecommunication improves the exchange of a huge diversity of cultural and religious beliefs, lifestyles, and people’s experiences all over the world. International economic relations also undergo changes as a result the development. Unlimited opportunities of communication are considered to be the major source of globalization that influences the youth.
Globalization and consumerism are closely connected today. The first one gave an opportunity for the second to advertise various products all over the world. Thus, Osgerby states that “consumerism and young people today is a change that has taken place in the society that marks a person more by what they wear and what they have, rather than by who they are” (Osgerby, 2004). Advertising makes young people all over the world buy the same things and wear the same clothes.
It is necessary to stress that globalization makes all the youth spend time in the same way. Practically all contemporary young people sit before their personal computers every day. Today it is possible to communicate, listen to the music, play games, watch movies and do a lot of other entertaining things with the help of computer technologies. Globalization makes young people spend more time at home than in the street and this phenomenon concerns all young people in the world.
Globalization requires everyone to know at least two foreign languages and be good at computer technologies. If one lacks this knowledge, it would be very complicated to find a good job. This causes the youth to learn foreign languages and master various computer programs. Today it is not prestigious to occupy a position that does not require the knowledge of the two fields mentioned above. That is why there is the lack of employees in certain fields. Globalization makes the youth search for positions connected with communication and exchange of information. It is impossible to omit the fact that something new appears every day, there are numerous innovations in each sphere and the youth are expected to be aware of all of them. It means that globalization makes all the youth around the world to be in constant search for information and learn practically the same things.
Globalization provides people all over the world with the same information. This fact minimizes differences between cultures and makes some of them widespread. Hip hop youth culture is the best example proving this point of view. It is so widespread among the youth today that it is impossible to guess about its origin. It seems that hip hop has been brought by globalization. However, it is not so. Hip hop takes its roots from Hispanic-American and African-American communities living in New York. The Internet and youth’s communication made hip hop culture widespread and popular in all countries.
The above-mentioned information proves that youth culture has become globalized because of widespread changes in economy, education, and rapid development of computer technologies. It is no wonder that young people from different parts of the world have the same point of view upon various notions, as they are educated with the help of the same sources. They get information from similar television programs and internet resources. They entertain in the same way. The effects of global culture are seen everywhere. It is enough to pay attention to the popularity of McDonalds among the youth from different countries. Globalization gave an opportunity to open departments of one company in different parts of the world. This fact caused the appearance of such a notion as “global youth.”
There seem to be equal job opportunities for all the youth all over the world. The appearance of computer technologies and popularity of working with the help of the Internet changed the youth’s point of view upon professional development and career. Today contemporary young people in all countries tend to work as freelancers earning more than their parents, who have been staying in offices. Therefore, a similar attitude towards career is also one of the factors contributing to wiping boundaries between different cultures.
An opportunity to study in another country provides the youth with the same package of knowledge giving the same possibilities for career. It is necessary to stress that the contemporary youth is frequently taught with the help of the same methods, as modern teachers also tend to exchange their experience by going to another country or communicating with foreign colleagues via the Internet. Therefore, similarities among the youth from different countries seem to be a normal notion.
There are two major fields that undergo globalization faster than any others. It is necessary to stress that culture and politics are the spheres, where the influence of globalization is the most obvious. We see how political interrelations undergo intensification and expansion across the globe. Stiglitz states that political globalization is most visible in the rise of different institutions and organizations that are held together because of common norms and interests (Stiglitz, 2003).
This system has much resemblance with an electric network of interrelated poster centres, for instance provincial and municipal authorities, local blocs, international companies, and international and rational private-sector associations. Political globalization led to cultural one. The latter is the intensification of cultural flows across the globe. All nations and states continue to undergo political and cultural changes because of the constant process of globalization (Waters, 2001).
Although globalization has a lot of positive influences upon the youth, there are also some disadvantages causing problems for certain youth cultures. It is still difficult for some young people to have constant access to the Internet and computer technologies. Some families still cannot afford to buy a computer and get access to the Internet, especially, it concerns rural areas with no Internet connection. It means that some young people will be left behind and stay at the previous stage of cultural development. It also means that they will have no opportunity to find a good job, if they decide to change their life and move to a city. It is still unclear what to do in this case and how to help the youth from rural areas. They seem to belong to another separate subculture that seems to experience no globalization. They seem to have nothing in common with the contemporary youth and the global youth culture.
It is necessary to stress that changes in youth’s lifestyle are not always positive because of globalization. It may cause worries and multiple problems. Some time ago it was not normal for people from different cultures to get married. Communication via the Internet is a good way to make friends with young people from another countries and this friendship frequently leads to the appearance of new families. This causes conflicts among parents belonging to different nationalities and having various cultural backgrounds. It may also become the major reasons for the birth of children with serious disabilities. Globalization has broken boundaries between nations and made possible for Negroes to marry white people and Chinese men marry black women.
In some countries, it was not normal for women to work, but this cultural stereotype also undergoes changes because of globalization and its impact is seen all over the world. Today a lot of women in Saudi Arabia work and occupy positions that are considered to be male posts. Women working in police are happy because of confidence and self-realization they receive as a result globalization. Therefore, young women all over the world got equal opportunities for career development, although it is not a norm for their cultures.
It is necessary to stress that changes caused by globalization represent both negative and positive possibilities for the future. Both of them are of equal importance. First of all, globalization made it possible for every person to get any information he/she needs. Young people have an opportunity to learn about other cultures and communicate with their peers with different cultural backgrounds staying at home. This exchange of information reduces boundaries and misunderstanding among different cultures and gives the birth to such a notion as the global youth. Listening to the same music and watching the same movies provides different young people with the same information. A negative influence of globalization is its availability for urban people having constant access to the Internet. Plus, globalization changes cultural values all over the world. It becomes normal to behave ‘like everyone in the world,” not as it is traditionally normal to a certain cultural group. To my mind, one of the possible would-be consequences of globalization will be free access to any country without visas. Plus, the majority of people will work at home via the Internet.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that the contemporary youth is greatly influenced by globalization. There are both positive and negative effects. On the one hand, it is great that there is an opportunity to get education in another country and communicate with a peer from South Africa or any other part of the world. On the other hand, such progress has become available only for those, who are flexible for changes and can work with huge amounts of information. The youth is globalized and some innovations and styles of music have already lost their origin, because they are known everywhere and by everyone. All youth cultures of the world tend to become one large youth global culture and it seems impossible to avoid this.