Geography and Globalization

Mark Altaweel


The discipline of Geography has looked at the effects of Globalization not only on economic systems but also on societies and cultures.

The topic of Globalization has been popular with human geographers in particular, as no other recent social phenomenon has arguable had such a significant impact.

While in the 1990s and early 2000s, many works began to look at Globalizations’ impact on trade and policy, later works increasingly focused on major changes to education, healthcare, family structures, and other aspects of human society and culture affected by Globalization.

As an example, migration to major cities and first world countries has increased during the period of Globalization.

Family structures in places such as Ecuador have changed, where community members and relatives have began helping with childcare as male adults have often migrated to North America and other regions for city-based jobs.[1]

Cultures are also becoming heterogeneously mixed or hybridized.

While Western ideals and concepts, including music and films, are pervasive, they are also intermixed with local elements.

Examples of movies from India, such as Mississippi Masala or the Reluctant Fundamentalist, reflect Indian-Pakistani migrants’ experiences in the United States, where the titles and tongue-in-cheek portrayal are American in style, but the presentation and themes discussed are more understood and relevant for Indian-Pakistani communities.[2]

In China, Globalization has benefited its industry, but it has also resulted in China’s citizens having more Western style expectations, such as in relation to consumption, status, and expectation for social reforms.[3]

Increasingly, what were once considered Western ideals have spread to other societies and they have become increasingly seen as more universal ideals.

Societies where polygamy, purdah, and genital mutilation were once more common have increasingly seen these actions as less acceptable, particularly by the educated classes.

NGO groups and governments are increasingly seeing their role as global citizens who can bring their services and, at times, their ideals as a way to influence societies.[4]


[1] For more on Globalization’s impact on migration and family structure, see:  Gwynne, Robert N., and Cristóbal Kay, eds. 2004. Latin America Transformed: Globalization and Modernity. 2nd ed. London : New York: Arnold ; Distributed in the United States of America by Oxford University Press, pp. 191.

[2] For more on films influenced by Globalization cultural spread and hybridization, see:  Nederveen Pieterse, Jan. 2015. Globalization and Culture: Global Mélange. Third edition. Globalization. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, pg. 64.

[3] For more on the role of Globalization in Chinese society, see:  Guthrie, Doug. 2012. China and Globalization: The Social, Economic, and Political Transformation of Chinese Society. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge.

[4] For more on the role of Globalization in influence social norms and practices, see:  Murray, Warwick E. 2006. Geographies of Globalization. Routledge Contemporary Human Geography Series. London ; New York: Routledge.

NASA's Night Lights 2012 Map.  Source: NASA, public domain.
NASA’s Night Lights 2012 Map. Source: NASA, public domain.

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About the author
Mark Altaweel
Mark Altaweel is a Reader in Near Eastern Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, having held previous appointments and joint appointments at the University of Chicago, University of Alaska, and Argonne National Laboratory. Mark has an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Masters and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

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