This Activity is designed to be used in the classroom or as a homework task to support the teaching and learning of Globalisation.
Globalisation - Activity
The aim of this activity is to encourage you to think about some of the issues surrounding globalisation. The term is widely used but appears to be a relatively new one; it does not appear in many of the common textbooks at this level, for example, but it is an issue that is causing increasing interest. In many respects, it is an extension of the micro issues surrounding the operation of markets and the capitalist system. Instead of the problems of monopoly power, pollution, exploitation and the like being a focus of one country in which the business is operating, the global nature of business these days means that the impact of the business' activities are felt by increasing numbers across the planet.
Protesters at recent G8 Summits have been greeted with scenes such as this. © iStock.com
It is difficult to find a clear definition of the term 'globalisation' but it is clear that it is associated with particular characteristics; the following is a list of some of those characteristics:
- Growth in technology
- Capitalist or market economic systems
- Corporate expansion
- Trade issues
- Poverty and inequality
- Impact on the environment
- Brand expansion and recognition
Each of these is important in its own right, but in their wake they bring other problems. There are many in the world that believe that the benefits of increasing global economic growth are being outweighed by the costs. The gap between the 'haves' and 'have-nots', for example, is an important source of frustration and disenchantment. The gap is made all the more obvious because of the spread of global mass communication.
Such a situation invariably results in some form of violent response. The root of much terrorist activity can be traced to the problems facing those who are often living in abject poverty with little or no hope of improvement in their lives. Solve the problems of unemployment, inequality and poverty and terrorism and crime would be reduced considerably, so the argument goes.
Globalisation - all bad?
The 'haves' - pollution from the USA impacts on the rest of the planet yet the Bush administration pulled out from the international Kyoto protocol on climate change. © Photolibrary Group
The 'have nots'. Hunting for scraps © Photolibrary Group
The consequences? - Disorder, struggle and violence, some say. © Sufi Nawaz, Stock.Xchng
The images above tend to give the impression that globalisation is a negative development. Like all things in economics, it will have its positive benefits as well as its costs. The purpose of the Activity is for you to research the extent to which we can identify the costs and benefits of globalisation and to arrive at a judgement about how globalisation should be managed - if indeed it is possible to do so?
Conduct some research into either the costs or the benefits of globalisation. You should aim to give a presentation lasting approximately 15 minutes outlining your case. At the end of the presentation, you should be prepared to take 10 minutes of questions from your 'audience' on the issues you have raised in your presentation.
The 'opposition' will present their case in a similar manner. At the end of the exercise, you will be asked to write a short 500 word report on whether, and how, globalisation should or can be 'managed'. The intention of the report is to get you to write a concise summary of the key issues facing the planet as globalisation takes a further hold. You will be raising the key issues that face the authorities rather than providing any form of definitive answer. For example, you may feel that a key way of solving many of the problems is to further extend the movement towards freeing up trade. At this level, how that may be done is another matter!
The activity will utilise your research skills, your ability to select and synthesise information effectively and your ability to present a coherent and well-argued case. The links below give you some initial starting points for your research. Remember: do not get caught out by finding too much information and then not being able to do anything effective with it!
- Series of articles by John Pilger on globalisation
- Globalisation - BBC World Service guide
- What is globalisation? - Guardian special report
- Globalisation Guide - developed especially for students by an Australian organisation
- The Whirled Bank - spoof site of the World Bank
- Articles from The Economist
- Globalization - from the World Bank Web site
Remember when you look at these sources that you should not necessarily believe everything you read - remember the distinction between positive and normative economics. Be prepared to question what you read!