Globalization in Terms of Family Studies and Psychology
Globalization: The Realities of Families
Globalization can be defined as the unfolding resolution of the contradiction between ever expanding capital and its national political and social formations. While the expansion of capital once represented that associated with national capital and later that associated with corporations expanding from the national to the transnational, it has now come to represent that which occurs without the assistance of or located in nations. These changes have been brought about by globalization which has led to the shift of the main location of capital accumulation from the national to the supranational or global level. With the emergence of globalization, economics has gained a more important place in the matters of humans than politics and public policy has become superseded by corporate demands. These matters as well as those that suggest that the best interests of the private rather than the public interest and the transnational over the national now take precedence are described by Gary Teeple in Globalization and Its Discontents as representing the last stage in the capitalization of the world.
As these events have transpired over the last few decades, one has to question the influence of the ongoing outcomes of globalization on families within the U.S. And throughout the world. How is it that families, once considered as one of the primary institutions within society, fit into a global system? Initially, it may seem difficult to understand how families may be substantially influenced or altered significantly by factors which have identified as the economic aspect of globalization such as trade, investment, technology, cross-border production systems, and flows of information and communication. However, the influence of these factors on families becomes easier to understand when one recognizes that globalization carries with it a social dimension that impacts the life and work of people, the families of which people are members of, and the societies to which families belong. The social dimension of globalization also impacts the security, culture and identity, inclusion or exclusion, and the cohesiveness of families and the larger communities in which they live.
The social meaning and influence of globalization on families was readily, blatantly and horrendously apparent on and in the days following September 11, 2001. Individuals and families living within the U.S. As well as throughout the world were suddenly given a wake-up call as the awareness sunk in that the political and economical factors of the larger world do actually have meaning in the social lives of those who reside within this global village that now represents the home of those living within the 21st century. The boundaries of nation-state that once separated families across the globe suddenly seemed more dangerously fluid and less rigid. Where once the constraints of location allowed families to be embedded within their own communities, societies and nation-state, the reality that communities do coexist across space via the technologies that have helped to drive globalization seemed more apparent in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on America. While the realities of the new global community in which families reside was long established prior to September 11, 2001, it seems that it became more clearly evident for most Americans on that day.
The global community and its affiliations, as home for families, may be in a delineated spatial zone in which they coexist with other communities, or they may be spread across the globe. Where once there was a sense of a sole homogeneous, site-specific community, this is no longer the case. Prior to globalization, families and the individuals of which families are composed remained securely within the confines of that which was personally known at the local level. However, as described by some, the currents of globalization have led individuals and families to move out of the security of the localized community for even the most modest of daily requirements, extending trust to unknown persons, to forces that are often impersonal and to the norms of the global marketplace. Consequently, where once families relied on the known and trusted local community, they now find themselves increasingly experiencing what it means to place oneself in the hands of the entire set of their fellow human beings.
Some have suggested that the idea of stable communities and stable families has now become threatened by globalization. As capitalism becomes increasingly beyond the controls of the nation-state, there is fear that the structural change predicated by globalization will wear and tear at the heart of families destroying and eroding family values, which has been touted as the strength of the American nation. While capitalism was deemed as good and necessary for the nation and American families, when placed in the context of the global community, those who strongly advocated for both capitalism and family values now find themselves faced with uncertainty as to what they should advocate for. Uncertainty emerges as advocating for growing and dynamic innovation seems dissimilar to values once associated with stable families and communities. While globalization offers the potential for economic development and wealth creation, there is growing concern as to the manner in which globalization will impact and further exacerbate problems of unemployment, inequality and poverty, still others suggest that globalization helps to reduce them. Essentially, when families are placed within the hands of all human beings throughout the globe, it remains unknown as to whether globalization will be politically and economically sustainable enough to contribute to the reduction of the problems faced by families.
In a similar vein, as found within The Cultures of Globalization, concern is being directed at the influence of multiculturalism, representing another bi-product and end result of globalization. Individuals and families throughout the globe are being bombarded with the images of materialism tailored to the global market which have resulted in a few accumulating massive wealth (e.g., Bill Gates). A supermarket culture has emerged that is geared and caters to everything and nothing in particular except maintaining the global economy, which refuses to contextualize itself in common goals for humanity and the creation of solidarity between people. Perhaps this unwillingness to consider such goals is a consequence of the fact that the concentration and centralization of capital remains in the hands of so few nations and in the hands of so few people. The wealth of the world continues to remain in the hands of those known as the Group of Seven (e.g., U.S., France, Germany, England, Japan, Italy and Canada), with 800 million inhabitants and controlling more technological, economic, informatics, and military power than the rest of the approximately 430 billion who live in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. As has been further explained, there are approximately 500 hundred multinational corporations accounting for 80% of world trade and 75% of investment, with one-half of all multinational corporations remaining based in the U.S., Germany, Japan, and Switzerland. The thirty nations who are members of OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) group of countries contributes 80% of world production. The other nations of the world who do not hold the reigns associated with the concentration and production of capital are left, as are families throughout the world, to structurally adjust to the demands of globalization, while the global economy continues to refuse to present a contextualization in which all humans throughout the world may benefit rather than suffer. The dollarization of prices across the globe raises prices to those prevalent in the U.S. And Europe without considering that in many places the average earnings of individuals are seventy times lower than that of individual earnings in the U.S. And Europe. Examples of such differences include the following:
retail salesman in the West receives a wage that is 40 times greater than a factory worker in Egypt.
The salary of a medical doctor in Egypt starts at the equivalent of $40 per month.
A pair of Nike shoes are sold in the U.S. For about $80 while a woman worker in the Nike factory in Indonesia receives for the labor 12¢ in every pair.
Roasted coffee retails at more than $10 a kilogram in the market of developing countries, yet the international price of green coffee is U.S. $1 per kilogram. The farmer in the third world will receive approximately 25-50¢ per kilogram while nonproducers in the third world will receive 50-75¢ in the form of profits and commercial margins. From its retail price of U.S. $10, U.S. $9 will be appropriated by international merchants, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers in the OECD countries.
Thus, under such conditions, structural adjustment can ultimately lead to what has been described as economic genocide for individuals and families throughout the world. Yet, the images of materialism continue to be pushed upon individuals and families throughout the world and the lure of global capitalism encourages them to seek out the possibilities of what the global economy may have to offer them.
In examinations of the experiences of children in poor third world countries who have been influenced by globalization, the lack of…