What forces drive globalization?

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The key idea behind globalisation is the way the societies and economies of the world are becoming increasingly close and interlinked.

This process of global integration is driven by a wide range of factors, from political and economic policy to technological advances and the simple movement of people and workers around the world.

The Economy and the Free Market

Perhaps the biggest driving force behind globalisation is the free market. People and companies are now doing business with other people and companies everywhere in the world; the world market has opened up to the extent that you can do business with virtually anyone, regardless of geographic location. This is made easier by the development of trading blocs like the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement where there are no import or export tariffs. Companies are now only too happy to outsource their unskilled labour to the country where they can get the job done cheapest, which has effectively left unskilled workers everywhere competing with the entire world.

Technological Advances

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Technological advances have opened up the world, both economically and socially. The development of mobile phones, the Internet and the further combination of the two in mobile Internet means that people can be in touch with the wider world at all times, wherever they are. Businessmen can receive the latest stock indexes the moment they are listed, and people can access the latest news as it breaks. New generations of cameras and laptops are able to shoot pictures and video and have it included in a news bulletin on the other side of the world within minutes, as modern technology simplifies the editing and broadcasting process.

Technology also factors into business growth and the outsourcing of labour, an example being Malaysia, which was thrown open to the world as part of the first wave of globalisation in the 1970s when many large American companies set up semiconductor assembly plants there.

The Internet

One of the biggest social drivers of globalisation is the Internet, which has come on the back of technological advances. Over the Internet, the world really does seem small and accessible, and more and more people are getting online every year. You can communicate with someone on the other side of the world instantaneously at the click of a button, and even see into their world with the use of webcams.

The free flow of information over the Internet definitely makes the world a smaller place, with news and current events available from almost anywhere the moment that they happen. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook allow ordinary people to distribute news and messages across to a massive number of people with ease, and the news media itself is now able to function in a truly global sense.

Inter-Governmental Organisations (IGO)

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The governments of the world are today working together to a greater degree than ever before. This is partly inspired by the free market and the need to maintain good trading relationships, hence the creation of groups of economic superpowers like the G8.

In societal terms too, IGOs have had an impact. The European Union is a good example, as it promotes the free migration of people and labour between member states. You can cross the borders between EU states without ever having to show a passport or work permit, and affordable flights and transport is now commonplace. Some sociologists predict that in future, the individual cultures of nation-states will give way to a more singular European culture.