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Globalization has also led to the development of global commodity chains    , where internationally integrated economic links connect workers and corporations for the purpose of manufacture and marketing (Plahe 2005). For example, in maquiladoras , mostly found in northern Mexico, workers may sew imported precut pieces of fabric into garments.

Globalization also brings an international division of labor, in which comparatively wealthy workers from core nations compete with the low-wage labor pool of peripheral and semi-peripheral nations. This can lead to a sense of xenophobia    , which is an illogical fear and even hatred of foreigners and foreign goods. Corporations trying to maximize their profits in the United States are conscious of this risk and attempt to “Americanize” their products, selling shirts printed with U.S. flags that were nevertheless made in Mexico.

Aspects of globalization

Globalized trade is nothing new. Societies in ancient Greece and Rome traded with other societies in Africa, the Middle East, India, and China. Trade expanded further during the Islamic Golden Age and after the rise of the Mongol Empire. The establishment of colonial empires after the voyages of discovery by European countries meant that trade was going on all over the world. In the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution led to even more trade of ever-increasing amounts of goods. However, the advance of technology, especially communications, after World War II and the Cold War triggered the explosive acceleration in the process occurring today.

One way to look at the similarities and differences that exist among the economies of different nations is to compare their standards of living. The statistic most commonly used to do this is the domestic process per capita. This is the gross domestic product, or GDP, of a country divided by its population. The table below compares the top 11 countries with the bottom 11 out of the 228 countries listed in the CIA World Factbook .

Not every country is benefitting from globalization. The GDP per capita of the poorest country is 255 times less than that of the wealthiest country. (Table courtesy of the CIA, World Factbook 2014)
Gross domestic product per capita
Rank Country GDP - per capita
(PPP)
1 Qatar $102,100
2 Liechtenstein $89,400
3 Macau $88,700
4 Bermuda $86,000
5 Monaco $85,500
6 Luxembourg $77,900
7 Singapore $62,400
8 Jersey $57,000
9 Norway $55,400
10 Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) $55,400
11 Switzerland $54,800
218 Guinea $1,100
219 Tokelau $1,000
220 Madagascar $1,000
221 Malawi $900
222 Niger $800
223 Liberia $700
224 Central African Republic $700
225 Burundi $600
226 Somalia $600
227 Zimbabwe $600
228 Congo, Democratic Republic of the $400

There are benefits and drawbacks to globalization. Some of the benefits include the exponentially accelerated progress of development, the creation of international awareness and empowerment, and the potential for increased wealth (Abedian 2002). However, experience has shown that countries can also be weakened by globalization. Some critics of globalization worry about the growing influence of enormous international financial and industrial corporations that benefit the most from free trade and unrestricted markets. They fear these corporations can use their vast wealth and resources to control governments to act in their interest rather than that of the local population (Bakan 2004). Indeed, when looking at the countries at the bottom of the list above, we are looking at places where the primary benefactors of mineral exploitation are major corporations and a few key political figures.

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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