Justifiable Risk or headless Fear? The Difference between experienced and factual Disadvantages of a Process called Globalisation

Which of the major concerns are synonymous to the actual risks during the process of globalisation and which result of individual environment or lack of information?

Introduction: Definitions and Terms

Globalisation is a concept nowadays every single one of us has heard of. However, not many people deal with the subject of globalisation. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for instance refers to this easily mistakable term as “a process of closer economic integration of global markets“ ([1]) and although quite simple, this definition can be regarded as a reasoned definition for an organisation, which primarily deals with economical issues. Nevertheless, this definition is too limited in order to stress the complexity and duality of the process of globalisation. The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology adds, that “this development is being driven forward by world-wide information networks and communication technologies“ ([2]), while the U.S. Department of Commerce focuses on the “potential to affect each other more quickly and to a higher degree than ever before“ (Owens, 2003, p. 4).

Hence, misunderstandings and information of dubious origin lead to hasty conclusions. Therefore it seems to be of the utmost importance to clear the meaning and definition of certain terms before starting to analyse the content matters. First of all, a clear determination is necessary between risks and concerns in regards to the issues of globalisation. The Oxford Dictionary claims quite plainly that concern is “a feeling of worry, especially one that is shared by many people“ (Hornby (ed.), 2000, p. 253), while risk means “the possibility of something bad happening at sometime in the future“ or “a situation that could be bad or have a dangerous result“ (ibid., 2000, p. 1105). As a result of the definitions the difference between potential and realistic prognoses, especially in regards to the globalisation process, becomes evident. In addition, another important difference between the term concern and accordingly risk is, that the latter is rather characterised by the opportunity of active shaping, while concern is if anything a rather passive attribute. When mentioning the term globalisation, this article refers to the definition of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology ([3]).

There are two more aspect in regards to the discussion of globalisation, which often tend to be forgotten. First of all, people often seem to search for a reset-button to stop this so anonymous appearing and therefore frightening process. However, this process which we experience and its consequences we feel right now, is dialectic but not in the least reversible. One reason for this irreversibility is the necessary awareness, that globalisation is not a phenomenon of this new century but of a long history. While some literature refers to globalisation as “a fundamental change of human institutions in the contemporary era“ (Tsai, 2006, p. 104), we actually have to define the start of this process with the very beginning of human civilisation and trade ([4], last visit: 8th November, 2009). Naturally, our today‘s world implicates increasing complexity, there are analogies existing, though.

In the following, this article will deal with these terms as to the development of globalisation and as to the societies it is affecting. First of all, it will analyse the different, explicitly social dimensions of the globalisation process. It will especially refer to the current political and social discussions, e.g. to the discussion of the with increasing frequency implemented reduction of jobs due to increasing international competition in developed countries or to the handling of the arising and rapidly increasing conflict potential, generated by growing international networking and international division of labour. After examining the main social and globalisation-caused fears and concerns of this generation it will evaluate the consequences of the before determined problems and draw a conclusion, considering which actions are, global and national, needed in order to reduce the actual risks.

Body: Arguments and Analysis

"Globalization in its current speed overwhelms the adaptability of many people" (Fabian Siggemann, Students:2009/2010_student_themes) and therefore fans fear and concern. In order to examine the research question, which of the major concerns are synonymous to the actual risks during the process of globalisation and which result of individual environment or lack of information and accordingly the disregard of important aspects, several facets and aspects need to be pointed out related to the different sections of concern.

One of the most spread concerns at this is the fear of losing the own job. The globalisation of human capital leads to heated discussions and negative associations with the whole process of globalisation, especially in the Western civilisation, since the production in Asia and Latin America is in almost all cases cheaper, occasionally better and more and more often better and cheaper. Often the fear of losing the job to a competitor from abroad superposes all other effects, notwithstanding whether they are reckoned to be positive or negative [1]. In this case, the boundaries between negative consequences and personal dismay become blurred, though. To actualise the discussion of the globalisation of human capital it is essential to consider one aspect accessorily. To understand the coherency within the whole idea of the development of globalisation, it is crucial to evaluate who is affected by this change on the employment market in fact. In relation to the Stolper-Samualson-Theorem ("Samualson, 2007, part 4, chapter 15-19 or [5]) one awareness can be concluded - the globalisation of human capital only refers to the low educated level, while executives and tasks with a high educated basis of knowledge are almost unaffected. Maybe the new "losers" of the globalisation therefore are, provided that the direction of this process continues, the unlettered and not inevitably the 3rd world countries anymore. Hence, this system for chances of success, which basis lies in the education of people, not in their origin or place of birth, might even be a fairer system than the one we are living in right now.

This idea leads to a second global concern. When discussing about globalisation often the word fairness appears, especially in relation to the 3rd world or more precisely to the least developed countries (LDC, for more information and criteria see [[6]]). The general opinion claims that the so-called “losers“ of the globalisation would suffer from this process. There is a huge concern existing in prospects of the development of these countries. However, in this case causes and effects are mixed, since the process of globalisation did not impoverish a once successfully acting country. Hence, the question comes whether the political, economical and/or social situation of countries like Burkina Faso, Cambodia or Sierra Leone really did change to the worse since the globalisation process started to accelerate. Those countries never took the step towards the development to an industrial country. Therefore the globalisation process did not narrow any of the countries‘ chances to improve their situation; otherwise the Asian tigers for example would not be existing ([[7]]). Not clear, though, is the question whether globalisation will do this. One argument for that is the frequently cited increasing gap between the rich and the poor (cf. Kiely, 1998, p. 45–66). Albeit this argument surely describes a serious phenomenon of the contemporary era, there are more aspects which need to be considered. To start with, it is of the utmost importance to stress the influence of education in order to improve a countries‘ welfare. As above already pointed out, the chances of improving the individuals‘ situation and consecutively the countries‘ welfare by education increase. Additionally another consequence of globalisation has a positive impact: by emphasising not only local but global problems financial means from foreign countries help improving the educational system in case the LDC country itself does, for whatever reason, or can not afford investing.

Yet not only the LDCs and their interceders are afraid of not being capable to bear consequences other areas of the world have caused. Acid rain, genetic degeneration, loss of biodiversity[2] and ozone depletion (cf. Keohane & Nye Jr, 2000, p. 106f) put countries to challenges they did not ask for. Pathogens are, in the course of the swine and avian influenza, one of the recently most discussed results of the globalisation process. These are some of the actual risks, which come along with intercultural contacts and thus increasing international travelling. Additionally, they implicate various other risks, such as political tensions, which this article will refer to later on. Here again, another positive effect of the globalisation needs to be appreciated. Due to new information and technology networks, knowledge is available all over the world and therefore the international produced and appearing hazards can be more effectually combated. Surprisingly this is exactly where another concern comes into play, since humans often do not realise the positive effects of new technology, such as the reduction of costs and international exchange of knowledge and opinions, but give concerns such as the global breakdown an important weighting and therefore an unrealistic conclusion.

Another concern and actual risk, too, is the increase of conflict potential, since global networks and diplomatic linking-up (and the resultant obligation of commenting important events happening all over the world) lead to the highlighting of different opinions, beliefs and forms of government. With it comes the concern of the loss of state power and sovereignty to a global political actor. Especially in Western Europe the antipathy to the increase of European Unions' power grows which is mirrored in the rejection of a common EU-Constitution in 2005 ([8]) and the first Irish vote turnout concerning the Lisbon Contract. Even now, Irish contract opponents argue that the approval of the second vote in October this year ([9]) is just a consequence of fear of economical drawbacks in case of disobedience. This is definitely one aspect which needs to be considered very carefully. On the other hand, is a certain room for manoeuvre of the utmost importance in order to maintain a competitiveness with other confederations of states and important and influential states such as Asian-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC, [10]), the Mercado Comum do Sul (Mercosur, [11]) or the United States. In the Lisbon Contract however, is for the first time a petition for a referendum for all European citizens possible. Also the parliaments of the several representations of people are sustained and enhanced. Yet, the concern of each member of the European Union is the basal foundation for the success of such a confederation of states and therefore vital. For other countries on the contrary, the reduction of state power could be a chance, too. This applies primarily to countries, in the majority of cases LDCs, which are ruled by tyranny, arbitrary or corruption. These countries could profit from transnational regulations and guidelines.

Finally, analysing one more concern is crucial for the purpose of understanding the rife fear of the globalisation process. With “the movement of ideas, information [and] images“ (cf. Keohane & Nye Jr, 2000, p. 107), comes along the movement of people and therefore the movement of culture and religion. The differing birth rates and policies change the old power structures

"The Process of Globalisation changes Power Structures", GDP in 2006 and expected GDP in 2050, distributed to the most important global players. Below the expected population 2050 in m.

and thus oftentimes the integration of one culture into another does not proceed without conflicts[3]. Different cultures and accordingly different religions are often in no accordance with each other, for example anent the question whether the good of the individual or the good of the collective is to be rated higher or the question of arbitrary law.

Hence, the great number of people now participating in global politics does not only lead to plurality but also to the concern people with other concepts could gain too much power. At the same time, among other reasons the entering of Anglicisms into the own language leads to the concern about loosing the own culture. While on one hand one standardised language helps to exchange knowledge and at the same time increases the capacity to act in case of global crises, it leads on the other hand to the neglect of the own language and therefore the neglect of the own culture, due to influences from all over the world[4]. People rather feel a radical elimination of their culture than a symbiosis with other cultures. This feeling of radicalness of cultural oppression could in addition be one reason for terror or nationalism (cf. reportage "Nazis in Amerika", 23rd November, 2009, 8:05pm on n-tv). Consequently, the balance of integrating a foreign culture or religion and simultaneously opening the own culture seems to be another challenge every individual is faced when adapting to the process of globalisation.

Conclusion: Review and Prospects

In conclusion, the perception of the dynamic and coevally irreversible process of globalisation differs exceedingly from its actual development. Hence, the question comes whether the gap between these two models of observation is debilitating or supporting. The latter can be excluded, since the view for the real problems and risks become hazy. Therefore it is of the utmost importance to disregard personal dismay and fears and focus on solving or minimising the actual risks or even solving risks of the past which already have turned into negative consequences. In the process of problem identification and solution finding, the focus must not lie on finding a win-win-solution, nor to find a formula to reverse the process, but to devise a modus operandi to handle the situation to the commonweal. However, for the purpose of doing this, once again a definition is needed about what the commonweal is supposed to include. The definition of the commonweal being the “welfare of the public“ (Hornby (ed.), 2000, p. 243) misses the need of additional information, namely who in this context is defined to be the public. The plain answer inevitably has to be: everyone. Since globalisation is a process which, willingly or not, includes every single one of us it is of prime importance to act in terms of all humankind. Because the society the process of globalisation affects is global, the global commonweal has to be prioritised. At the same time, this thesis also involves the preferableness of the commonweal compared to the rights of the individual in cases of original precedents. Therefore the urgent need exists to change the preferential position of the passage of new EU trade agreements to topics such as environment protection and resource management, world wide equal educational opportunities, overpopulation and resolving old intercultural or international conflicts.

In order to act principled in respect of the disquisition above, each individual needs not only to realise the globalisation but also act accordingly to its meaning - namely global. Not remaining economical national power or maintaining the national social system, but the achievement of the highest possible global commonweal has to be given top priority. Nevertheless and beyond doubt, there will be losers of the globalisation, though, in particular those, who cannot or want not timely adapt to this new world and its new rules. Of course it is relevant and debatable, whether this process is ethical, but since there is no such thing as the above already mentioned reset-button, in order to "tame“ the globalisation, the acceptance of this process is inevitable for the individuals‘ good. As a result, an effective method of shaping the process of globalisation, rather than simply enduring it, involves the acceptance of the risk of potential individual (or national and in democratic constitutions therefore individual, too) disadvantages. Only if this idea forms the basis for future actions, the cultural, economical and political global commonweal can be preserved or even amended.


  1. for further reading see: "Global-labor, Risk or Opportunity?" by Irmawan Rahyadi Global-labor, Risk or Opportunity?
  2. for further reading see: "Loss of Biodiversity- caused and solved by Globalization?" by Jule Kathinka Plawitzki Loss of Biodiversity- caused and solved by Globalization?
  3. for further reading see: "Integration and tolerance" by Josef Nový Integration and tolerance and "Shaping globalization: migration in times of globalization" by Fabian Siggemann Shaping globalization: migration in times of globalization?
  4. for further reading see: "Does the globalization of media lead to homogenization?" by Corinna Lohrengel Does the globalization of media lead to homogenization?

Reference List

Primary Sources

  • Hornby, A. S. (ed.) (2000). Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, London, Cornelsen.
  • Keohane, R. & Nye Jr, J. S. (2000). Globalization: What‘s New? What‘s Not? (And So What?), Washington, Academy of Korean Studies.
  • Kiely, R. (1998). Transnational corporations, global capital and the Third World, London, Routledge.
  • Owens, J. (2003). Globalization and Minority-owned Businesses in the United States: Assessment and Prospects, Washington, Minority Business Development Agency.
  • Samualson, P. (2007). Volkswirtschaftslehre : das internationale Standardwerk der Makro- und Mikroökonomie, New York, MI Wirtschaftsbuch.
  • Tsai, M.-C. (2006). Does Globalization affect Human Well-Being?, Durban, Social Indicators Research.

Secondary Sources

See also

  Author: Svea Marie Wehling. This article was published under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. How to cite the article: Svea Marie Wehling. (11. 08. 2022). Justifiable Risk or headless Fear? The Difference between experienced and factual Disadvantages of a Process called Globalisation. VCSEWiki. Retrieved 18:23 11. 08. 2022) from: <https://vcsewiki.czp.cuni.cz/w/index.php?title=Justifiable_Risk_or_headless_Fear%3F_The_Difference_between_experienced_and_factual_Disadvantages_of_a_Process_called_Globalisation&oldid=5489>.