Globalisation describes an ongoing process by which regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated through a globe-spanning network of communication and execution. The term is sometimes used to refer specifically to economic globalisation: the integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration, and the spread of technology. However, globalisation is usually recognized as being driven by a combination of economic, technological, sociocultural, political, and biological factors. The term can also refer to the transnational circulation of ideas, languages, or popular culture through acculturation.
This article concentrates on the effects of globalisation on societies, and the response of solidarity economy. For a more detailed overview of the origins and theories of globalization, you can go to the Wikipedia article on globalisation.
- The tecnological advances of communication, especially Internet, has allowed people all over the world to share more information and react jointly regardless of their geographical location.
- The lowered air ticket fees have allowed more people to move transnationally and to interact.
- Regional integrations have facilitated the move of not only capital but also people, especially within the European Union where citizens of any member country are entitled to work in another member country without work permit.
According to Karl Birkhölzer, globalisation and the concentration of capital is characterised by 5 major challenges:
- The concentration of capital in trans-national companies means that capital has achieved an exterritorial status and is no longer controllable by nation states which results practically in the end of national economics.
- Economic polarisation has occurred with some nations and areas becoming wealthier at the expense of others. This polarisation has concentrated capital in islands of prosperity with people earning high incomes, few unemployed and an improved environment. This ‘leaves behind’ an increasing number of crisis areas with characteristics of low income, high unemployment, social exclusion and a neglected environment. It divides not only nations or regions but also cities, towns and neighbourhoods (social segregation).
- Trade unions and the labour movement in general have lost power because technological progress has enabled capital to replace workers by machinery and shift the workplaces around on a worldwide level. For the same reason it has become much more difficult to protect workers by national legislation.
- There is a decrease in public income because taxing the ‘global players’ is more problematic and the private sector in general contributes less and less to the costs of the social security systems and infrastructural services because of deregulation and the possibility to internationalise profits. This undermines in the long run the national welfare systems and finally the concept of the welfare state.
- There is a loss in the democratic process as economic decisions are often far from localities and no longer transparent or accountable to people and places.
Another Globalisation: answer to the current one
It is essential to understand that solidarity economy movement per se is not against any sort of globalisation but is to give alternatives to the side effects while enjoying positive ones. Indeed, different actors of solidarity economy leverage Internet to keep in touch each other on the international and also inter-continental level, contributing to the growth of fair trade for instance. This spirit is crystallised at the slogan "Another world is possible" at the World Social Forum, giving birth to the French term "altermondialiste" (those who seek for another globalisation).
Hurdles for another globalisation
Some people feel themselves only affected by the negative effects of the globalisation while being unable to receive benefits of the positive ones. For example, those who are linguistically separated from the rest of the world (such as Japan and Korea) can hardly make use of the global access by Internet while they see immigrants and foreign businesses as rivals who rob them of market and employment. It is also crucial to show them some benefits to convince them that the globalisation is sometimes good for them too if we are to stop them from resorting to seclusion.
- Castells, M. (2000): The Information Age - Economy, Society and Culture, 2nd edition, Blackwell Publishing.
- Birkhölzer, K. (2005): Consequences of Globalisation in the North and Civil Society Responses and Alternatives. In: Castelli, L.: European Social Entrepreneurs. Ancona: Le Mat Partnership