The word globalization is a common one these days. The issues involved are complicated, but in general globalization refers to the ways in which technology and trade are making the world a smaller, more interconnected place than it used to be, and to the economic and social changes that are occurring as a result. Less than 100 years ago, for example, a trip across the Atlantic took more than a week. Today, of course, the same trip takes only a few hours.
Many people feel, however, that something has been lost in the shift from the slow but stately ocean liners of 1910 to the cramped but convenient airline cabins of today: elegance, perhaps, or the simple joy of travel. This kind of trade-off is one of the most prominent features of globalization. Advances such as the Internet and the airplane have created enormous opportunities, particularly in the areas of trade and public health. But there are serious dangers as well.
While people have been trading goods and ideas internationally for thousands of years, the importance of commerce has never been greater. In the past, people tended to produce what they needed at home, and to trade internationally only for luxuries such as silk, spices, and precious metals. Travel was too expensive and slow to allow long-distance trade in food and other daily needs. Today’s refrigerated trucks and cargo planes have changed that.
As it becomes faster, easier, and cheaper to ship goods around the world, manufacturers are free to build their factories anywhere. Usually they do so where the costs of labor and materials are lowest. Many of companies have recently moved from the United States and Western Europe, where costs are relatively high, to less expensive countries such as China, which now produces an enormous variety of high-quality products, including nearly 90 percent of the toys sold in the United States.
As consumers enjoy the low prices that globalization makes possible, however, others worry about workers who have lost their jobs to people overseas, or about the low pay and the lack of pollution and safety regulations in some of the new manufacturing areas. (Ernst 54-77) Moral dimensions of globalizations Scholar views some of the effects of globalization as positive. Globalization brings Western ways to the rest of the world, and there are some things about Western ways that are favorable and bring benefits.
Among these goods are modern medicine, formal education, and an ethic of freedom of expression. Scholars are aware that they view these as goods in part because the West is my own culture, but Scholar believes that these goods can be defended on their own merits. It is better to have vaccinations and treatments for potentially fatal diseases than for people to die in infancy or childhood. It is better for people to be literate than illiterate. It is better for people to be able to express their ideas freely than to be imprisoned or killed for expressing them.
I am happy to defend many of the fruits of Western civilization as good things, and globalization makes these good things more widely available. Furthermore, as we argued, among the consequences of globalization is a greater range of identity choices. Although Scholars were not explicit about the morality of this in the article, Scholar see it as generally a good thing for people to have more rather than fewer choices for how to live and what to believe and what kind of person to be.
This view may reflect, “ethnocentric assumptions about … the presumed existential superiority (and implied moral superiority) of an ideology of individual freedom, but that would not make it any less (or more) valid. It is a view that should be evaluated on its own merits. Scholars believe that individual freedom is generally good and that people are happier and psychologically healthier when they have at least some scope of individual freedom for their identity choices. (Latham 65-95)
The influence of globalization on individual freedom for identity choices is especially notable with respect to the position of women. Women traditionally have been, in virtually all cultures and historical times, more constrained than men in their identity choices. Girls have been allowed less education than boys, and women have been allowed few potential work roles other than wife and mother along with, perhaps, agricultural work or other contributions to the family sustenance.
Today in the West, girls exceed boys in educational achievement at every cost but in most of the rest of the world; girls are still allowed less education than boys. Globalization brings the West’s more egalitarian views of gender roles to the rest of the world and opens up opportunities for girls to receive more education and for women to have more choices in work, love, and leisure. Will Hoshmand, or anyone else, argue that this is a bad thing and that girls and women are better off if they remain in their traditional, subordinate role? If so, Scholar would be happy to take the other side of the argument. (Ozawa 211-28)