Globalization & Politics

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  • 0:01 Globalization Defined
  • 1:17 Dimensions
  • 4:28 North-South Gap
  • 6:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

The term 'globalization' gets tossed about quite a lot, but what exactly does it mean? In this lesson, you'll learn what globalization is and how it can affect states and their citizens. We'll also discuss the North-South gap. A quiz follows.

Globalization Defined

Chris is a citizen of the United States and is living in a world that is undergoing globalization, which is the process of the integration of communication, culture, and economics across the world into an overall global system. Basically, globalization means that all the countries, their economies, and their cultures become interconnected and interdependent. Instead of being islands unto themselves, globalization means that states are increasingly becoming a part of a larger global system that has the ability to exert influence upon them. For example, the 2008 crash of the United States financial markets caused financial chaos for most of the developed world as well.

Closely related to globalization is globalism, which is defined by Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, Jr., professors of international relations, as the state of the world consisting of networks of interdependence resulting from the flow of goods, services, people, culture, and ideas across the world. If globalization is the process, you can think of globalism as the result. Additionally, states that view the entire world as their sphere of influence are said to engage in globalism as a form of policy.


Let's take a look at how globalism affects Chris along four dimensions of globalism as described by Keohane and Nye.

Economic globalism is about the flow of goods, services, and capital around the globe and the perception about these global economic exchanges. Chris is part of this economic globalism as both a consumer and a worker. While he's a United States citizen, he actually lives and works in Britain for a Swiss company. The products he purchases as a consumer come from around the world. Globalism can affect Chris negatively as well. For example, his older brother, John, recently lost his job because John's company relocated overseas for cheaper labor markets.

Military globalism involves networks of security interdependence, where states in the network provide for each other's security through use of force or threats of force. For example, Chris's father was an officer serving in Europe during the Cold War, which pitted the United States and its allies, NATO, against the U.S.S.R. and its allies, the Warsaw Pact. Each member of their respective alliance, or network of security, pooled their military resources together to protect each other from a common enemy. A more contemporary example is the cooperation of states in the fight against terrorist groups.

According to Keohane and Nye, environmental globalism involves 'the long-distance transport of materials in the atmosphere or oceans, or of biological substances, such as pathogens or genetic materials, that affect human health and well-being.' For example, given the frequency of international air travel today, national governments have become more concerned about pandemic threats, which are the regional or global spread of dangerous diseases, such as avian flu or Ebola. In fact, before going on a trip to India, Chris was required to be inoculated against certain tropical diseases, not only to protect him, but also to ensure he didn't bring the disease back upon his return. Of course, environmental disasters, such as CFCs depleting the ozone layer, oil spills, and nuclear reactor accidents, such as at Chernobyl and Fukushima, can affect large regions, if not the entire planet.

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