Globalization Vs. Borders
by Matthew Higgins
Extract from my latest essay:
“Globalization is not a new concept, even though the term globalization has only recently been used in the twentieth century. Today’s ideas surround the theory are structured around very particular aspects of society such as Economy, Politics and Religion and with all of these the backbone to creating a global society is the developments with the technological realms. Manuel Castells mentions the importance of technology in the 1970s in creating an information society in the United States and the “interaction with the global economy and with the world geopolitics, that materialized into a new way of producing, communicating, managing and living” (2000, p.5). The following essay will look to offer a critical evaluation on the idea of the ‘borderless’ world and in doing this it will look at establishing what globalization is, what borders we are considering in this concept and will also show relevant examples and evidence to support the evaluation. Using both current topics and more historical events the essay will look to explore where the idea of globalization started and when it was identified. Borders are more than physical lines and boundaries on a map, they house varying cultures, beliefs and political structures. Are borders still present? Are they blurred? Or has the notion of a singular global entity eradicated these divides?
Firstly the concept globalisation needs to be defined or considered. Once this base theory has been defined one can then discussed the detail as to whether or not it has created a borderless world or whether borders have actually become more defined due to technological advances and increased technological differences between nations. Robertson states the “globalization as a concept refers to both the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole” (1992, p.8). What Robertson explains is that globalization is fundamentally then notion that the world is getting metaphorically smaller due to the advances in technology and the increased uses of spatial reducing mediums (in recent years, mobile phones and the internet). It is also a point to make clear when considering the theory of globalization that it is not a new phenomenon and has being happening since the first established trade routes. The idea has just been picked up more recently due the accelerations of technology, Robertson also does go on to suggest that globalization applies to more than just the twenty first century “it is necessary to emphasise that globalization is not equated with or seen as a direct consequence of an amorphously conceived modernity.” (1992, p.8).
Following on from Robertson’s definition, and in order to build a comprehensive outline of it, current affairs that have affected globalization need to be looked at. “After World War II, the infrastructure for communication and transportation improved dramatically, connecting groups, institutions, and countries in new ways. More people can travel, or migrate, more easily to distant parts of the globe; satellite broadcasts bring world events to an increasingly global audience; the internet begins to knit together world-spanning interest groups of educated users. Such links are the raw material of globalization.” (F. Lechner & J. Boli, 2004, p.1). This extract from Lechner and Boli suggests that globalization is more of a modern idea, but I will go on to explain the global discourse and how this has played its part in the concept of globalization. The ideas Lechner and Boli present a very clear idea of the current influences on globalization and also the reasons behind the increase in speed that globalization has been developing. In the light of extracts used, I would like to suggest that the fundamental statement that I will be working with in the essay will be that of Robertson (1992, p8), but one could also suggest that the advent of new media has increased the awareness of globalization and has to be taken into consideration when exploring whether we have become or are becoming a borderless world.
To argue whether or not the world is becoming borderless it must be shown what it is understood that a border is – at its most fundamental level, it must be understood what we think should be there to find out whether it is no longer there. “The primary and historical idea of the border is to separate different political units (states). In Addition, the border is meant to be a tool for controlling the flow of goods, ideas and even ideologies,” (Laitinen cit. Berg & Houtum, 2003, p.18). Laitinens definition of a border is simple and almost self explanatory, and if it is look at in purely physical terms we are still a bordered world, for example France borders with Spain, and they have individual political structures, cultures and economies (although the economies are linked due the European Union each country has its own trade routes). When looking to apply these ideas of the conventional borders on the twentieth century world it becomes increasingly difficult due to the introduction of modern technologies such as the telegraph, telephone and most importantly the internet. The internet processes the ability to blur the conventional borders; because in order to communicate with another country or learn about that culture you no longer have to travel there (this is of course providing they have internet accessibility). With a physical border a passport is needed to cross, in many cases visa’s and authorization is also needed, but with the internet this is not a necessity, A person in the UK can easily exchange information with a citizen of the US without have to pass through any borders, this is why it has been suggested borders have started to become obsolete.”