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The Role of History in our Contemporary Understanding of Economic and Political Globalization

Deion M. MaithGeorge Mason University

September 29, 2018

History plays a fundamental role in developing a better understanding of economic and political globalization. The movement of people and resources has a long history but was amplified by the colonialism which laid the groundwork for international relations and the adoption of neoliberal policies.

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Globalization has established a link between countries and people across the globe. This has led to the opening up of economies which has led to an increased flow of goods, people, and services across borders.

Neoliberalism on the other hand focuses on the need for the free market capitalism where the government interference is limited. On the other hand, Globalization helps in the adoption of the contemporary neoliberal given that it facilitates the flow of people, resources, knowledge, and technology. Therefore, the success of the neo-liberal policies hinges on the success of the globalization (Wallerstein, 2004). However, it is the historical events such as colonization that helped in shaping economic and political globalization.

Globalization increases the connectivity to people across the globe therefore leading to sharing of information and distribution of wealth (Middell, & Naumann, 2010). This is important since it leads to global development and in making sure that the technology flows from one country to another thereby improving the global economy. Even though globalization has been vital to the global economy, it has led to a dilution of cultures across the globe and uneven distribution of wealth and therefore increased the gap between the rich and poor.

Globalization helps in facilitating international transfers, investments as well as the trade which is beneficial to the countries involved. The flow of people help in the movement of labor, which helps in improving the living condition, thereby, reducing the rate of poverty. The flow of investment from the developing countries gives the opportunity to the poor which helps in improving their standards of living and amount of resources.

Global connectivity is beneficial to individuals, businesses, and nations. As a result, global connectivity has positively contributed to the spread of knowledge and modern technology. In addition, global connectivity provides a platform where there is an exchange of ideas, skills, as well as resources which help in improving personal and national development. Businesses can benefit from global connectivity by establishing trade deals and facilitating the flow of goods and services (Gills, & Thompson, 2012).

This has also played a key role in fostering national development as countries are able to receive resources from other countries to promote economic development. Sharing of knowledge through global connectivity has paved the way for the eradication of diseases and providing political and economic solutions in the long run. Furthermore, global connectivity has also created a leeway where people can share traditions, cultures, and access to a different set of opportunities across the globe.

Global connectivity is also instrumental in Disaster warning and recovery which is beneficial to a county and individuals since it helps in saving lives. Even though global connectivity has positive outcomes, it may contribute to the spread of the risks in the long run if it is mismanaged. The spread of the financial crisis in 2008 was facilitated by the global connectivity which mainly affected different economies across the globe.

Global connectivity may also lead to an increase in unequal distribution of wealth due to the dominance of the developed economies. With this in mind, the increased global connectivity has also led to the destruction of national resources and the dilution of culture across the globe. Industries in developing countries may negatively be affected due to the flow of cheaper goods and services from the developed economies. Countries that primarily benefit from global connectivity are mainly those with the ability to produce goods and services at a low cost. Furthermore, global connectivity leads to exploitation of natural resources in developing countries.

Although globalization may affect countries differently depending on the flow of resources and investment, globalization has created a situation where the free flow of cheap goods to developing nations have destroyed jobs and industries to those economies which have resulted in an increase in the rate of unemployment (Steger, 2017). As a result, the inequality gap has increased as those with the resources have benefited more than others. However, the flow of knowledge, technology, and investment reduce the rate of poverty and inequality in developing countries. Therefore, the impact of globalization may be positive or negative depending on the flow of resources and the effect that such on the local economies.

Dependency theory indicates that wealthy or more developed countries plow resources from developing countries which further negatively affects the poor economies (Smil, 2010). The developed countries have dominated the global economy due to the technological advancement, availability of natural resources, and the production of good and services at low prices. Developing countries, however, rely on the developed countries to improve their infrastructures which have increased the public debt and their reliance on the wealthy nations (Allensens, 2018).

The link between neoliberalism and the globalization is that, globalization plays a crucial role in establishing the right environment where the free market environment can be established. In the past, globalization has played a vital role in the spread of capital, technology as well as the information across the border through economic globalization. This also played a vital role in the spread of the neoliberalism which increases the need for the governments to limit their interference in the market such as privatization of government companies and creating a free market environment. It is through neoliberalism that economic affairs and global markets are allowed to function on their own without governed interference. Even though this is the case, the spread of neoliberalism policies across the globe has been facilitated by globalization (McMichael, 2012).

The Washington Consensus was structured to assist developing countries, in particular, those in crisis. This primarily concentrated more on the need to expand the market, facilitating movement of investment to those countries and also the need for the macroeconomic stabilization. On the other hand, contemporary global affairs are often structured in a way that they can generate positive results for the developing countries.

Therefore, both the developing and the developed nations work towards making sure that those countries in crisis can develop. Countries such as Greece, have faced an economic crisis in the past and it is the bailout plans and the contemporary global affairs that has facilitated the recovery of such economies (Wallerstein, 2004).

Furthermore, colonialism laid the foundation for globalization and the opening up of economies across the globe. Colonialism played a crucial role in promoting the interaction of economies where the raw materials from developing countries were diverted to developed nations. However, during this period the main highlight was the link provided between the colonial powers and the developing nations. Neoliberalism has played a vital role especially through the free flow of resources from one country to another.

This was similar to what was practiced during the colonial period as the resources moved from developing countries to developed nations. Therefore, both colonialism and neoliberalism lead to a flow of resources from one country to another with minimum government interference. Through this, both countries benefit as they acquire the scarce resources and at the same time export the resources that are abundant to other countries similar practices that were practiced during the colonialism. It was the colonialism that laid the foundation for the globalization and global connectivity similar concept held by the neoliberalism (Introduction to Sociology, 2018).

In conclusion, understanding the historical development of globalization and events such as colonization, one may be able to develop a better understanding of economic and political globalization. Furthermore, globalization has facilitated in opening up of economies which lead to a flow of goods and services. As a result, globalization has played a vital role in boosting of economies given that economies can distribute the goods and services across the border. On the other hand, colonialism by the European countries played a vital role in the spread of ideologies and linking the economies across the globe. The colonialism was facilitated by the European expansion motivated by the need to search for raw materials for their economies and had a positive and negative impact on different countries.

References

  • Allensens. (2018). Dependency Theory [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN6LlMY2ApQ&feature=youtu.beGills, B. K., & Thompson, W. (2012). Globalization and global history. Routledge.
  • Introduction to Sociology. (2016). Globalization and Neoliberalism [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwGgLfu5aGs&feature=youtu.beMcMichael, P. (2012). Development and social change: A global perspective. Los Angeles: SAGE.
  • Middell, M., & Naumann, K. (2010). Global history and the spatial turn: from the impact of area studies to the study of critical junctures of globalization. Journal of Global History, 5(1), 149-170.
    Smil, V. (2010). Prime movers of globalization: The history and impact of diesel engines and gas turbines. MIT press.
  • Steger, M. B. (2017). Globalization: A very short introduction (Vol. 86). Oxford University Press.
  • Wallerstein, I. M. (2004). World-systems analysis: An introduction. Durham: Duke University Press.