How Globalization Affects Local Governments & Politics

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  • 0:00 Background on Globalization
  • 1:04 How It Looks from Top-Down
  • 2:24 How It Looks from Big Business
  • 3:15 How It Looks from Bottom-Up
  • 4:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Erin Carroll

Erin has taught English and History. She has a bachelor's degree in History, and a master's degree in International Relations

In this lesson, you will learn how globalization has affected local government from the top down and the bottom up. Global government, international companies, and citizens use the tools of globalization to affect local government.

Background on Globalization

Everyone loves to talk about how globalization has changed our lives. Coca-Cola sells soda around the world and the United Nations acts as a world government to try to make the world a safer place. But how does it affect laws in cities like Lagos, Nigeria and Long Beach, California? How has globalization affected local governments?

First of all, let's define globalization. Globalization is the way that countries and people around the world have become more connected and interdependent economically, politically, and socially. It has made it possible for a person in Lebanon to eat a McDonalds cheeseburger, talk to a friend in New York City on Skype about fracking, and listen to Korean pop music on Spotify. But it also means that local governments have to deal with international companies coming to do business in their towns, and their local citizens are demanding more of a voice and can unite more easily than ever before using the Internet. Globalization can impact local government from the top down or from the bottom up. Let's take a look at some examples of how that might look.

How It Looks From Top-Down

As countries have become more interconnected, they have needed to work together more. For example, countries work together to protect the environment or to fight terrorism. This has led to the development of world government. After WWII, the United Nations (UN) was formed as a kind of world government. But the UN can't really govern the world. It needs local governments to turn their policies into realities on the ground. For example, the UN has asked that local governments become involved in making sure that human rights are protected. After all, the UN is just a bunch of ambassadors from different countries that all meet in New York City. They can't actually control the everyday lives of someone who lives in Jeonju, South Korea. But the local government in the city of Jeonju can. It can pass laws that protect human rights, and the police can make sure that people follow these laws.

Now, local government must take international norms and make that a norm where they live, such as women's rights to an education or protecting the environment. This is called domesticating international norms, and this could look different in different places. For instance, the UN supports protecting the environment, so a local government in California could pass a law that charges a small fee for using plastic grocery bags, while the local government in a small village in Guatemala might focus on helping people use natural resources more efficiently for agriculture.

How It Looks From Big Business

Sometimes globalization forces local governments to accept ideas and laws that they don't really like. This happens most often when it comes to economic globalization. For a small town in Bangladesh, it's exciting to become involved in the global economy when a big company like Walmart wants to open factories in your town and employ your citizens. But to keep those big companies around, it means the local government might look the other way on workers' rights. That can leave people working for slave wages, or even allowing companies to harm the environment or remove people from their homes.

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