Essay on Transformations of The Modern World

Globalization influences all spheres of life including economic development and social dimensions, migration and labor relations, consumption and production. The dominant form of global ideology is that of economic neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is the semi-official philosophy of the United States government, of the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, as well as most university departments of economics and many political and financial organizations, such as the Trilateral Commission.

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Help with Essay on Transformations of The Modern World

Gender analysis offers a more comprehensive explanation; it enables us to “see” how women are in fact important to the picture (enabling men’s activities, providing “reasons” for men to fight), even though women and the roles they are expected to play are obscured when we focus only on men. Through a gender -sensitive lens, researchers see how constructions of masculinity (control, aggression) are not independent of, but rely upon, contrasting constructions of femininity (dependence, vulnerability). In a sense, the dominant presence of men depends on the denial and absence of women. Globalization can be describes as gendered process in terms of participation of men and women in economic exchange and social interaction. Work is transformed by global processes as women who formerly labored in the household and subsistence fields are increasingly preferred by Third World factory managers. Around the turn of the millennium a consensus on globalization began to take shape, which can be summarized in three points. (1) Important changes are transforming the global economy. (2) Globalization is not caused by technology. (3) So far globalization has not decreased inequality of income and wealth (Brysk, 2004). Those most directly affected by global processes—the small farmers, women workers, unions—may be aware of only a small part of the forces that are impacting their lives so drastically.

Two of the main subjects of anthropological study, tribal peoples and peasants, are undergoing radical changes. The very term “tribal” is itself under fire because of its association with primitivism and its connotations of isolation. Peasants have become highly mobile and work at so many different jobs outside of agriculture that it has been suggested that the term be replaced with post-peasant. Although women also enter the transnational migration stream, comprising the larger percentage in certain regions such as the Caribbean, men are still predominant overall. In areas of Africa and Asia, male populations in some regions have been decimated, leaving wives in dependency status on their husbands’ relatives; in India, symptoms of this “Dubai syndrome” include headaches, sleeplessness, seizures, and chest pains. Following Bee;  “in the Guatulame the weak development of a land market has been significant for many aspects of community life including the gender aspects of employment in the export and domestic agricultural sectors” (Bee 2000, 255). Developing countries help fill professional vacancies, often resulting in greater racial and ethnic disharmony. Also, “This “modernity”, rooted in the structures of patriarchy and capitalism, collaborates with the patriarchy of continuously reinvented “tradition” to produce new forms of gender oppression” (Lukose 2005, 915).

Global relations have been more concentrated in the North relative to the South and the East. Globalization has touched urban centers (especially so-called ‘global cities’) more than rural areas. The trend has involved propertied and professional classes more than poorer and less literate circles. Women and people of color have generally had less access to global spaces than men and white people. That said, accelerated globalization of the late twentieth century has left almost no one and no locale completely untouched (Gmelch 1995). “Through time, these engagements of gender have created and then disrupted mappings of centre and periphery and moved people, with and without their consent, into new places, experiences, and understandings of themselves” (Mckay 2004, 130).

One effect of migration is to reverse gender roles; because women move first, they become the breadwinners for husbands that follow. The husbands, who may have to relinquish high-status jobs in India for unemployment or low-status work in the United States, often find themselves taking care of children and doing other domestic tasks, unthinkable for married men in India. Deeply embedded cultural values are not left back in India, but follow the couple to the United States, constantly reinforced by trips and communications back “home.” In compensation, men often turn to religion; sympathetic Christian churches in migrant communities have readjusted their official positions to accommodate men who must seek authority and approval outside their homes (Powell, 2001).

Globalization can both help and retard development. On the one hand, aid agencies have responded to increased grassroots demands, especially when local peoples can hook up with transnational pressure groups to make their needs felt. On the other hand, states are losing their ability to guide their own development as their efforts and money are redirected to neoliberal structural adjustments aimed mainly at paying off international debts, thus leaving development to be guided by Western agencies. Globalization tends to concentrate the power of multinational corporations that have no interest in development but which, by default, are in the position to steer it in the direction of maximizing corporate profits. The fluidity of the “local” as labor markets become globalized, and the high mobility of potential local leadership, may make it difficult to organize and to maintain continuity at the grassroots level. For instance, the government of Russia estimates that 900,000 women have migrated west in various forms of prostitution. Similarly, but at a lesser scale, Cuba and China have seen a rise in commercial sex due to increases in tourism, relaxation of government intrusion in the economy, and reduced border restrictions. A flood of mainland Chinese women have joined the sex trade in Taiwan. Also, women in cities formed street vendor associations for self-help, to prevent police intimidation, and to press for rights. Urban squatter associations established and organized shantytowns and pressed local governments for water, sewage, electricity, and roads.

In the processes of modernization, men continue to control the means of production technology, capital—and, to a great extent, they control an ideology of patriarchy that legitimizes female exclusion. Whether development is planned or unplanned, relative to men, women find themselves with only limited access to resources and a lack of control over their own labor and the products of their labor. Also, they often lack the mobility that might improve their condition because of their duties to the household. Where women are able to or forced to enter wage labor, they are routinely excluded from managerial positions or promotion, often being let go after only a few years (Rankin 2004). Poor women, more than any other segment of Third World populations, have borne the brunt of structural adjustment policies as dictated by the IMF. These policies give first priority not to development but to paying interest on the national debt. The macroeconomic theory underlying neoliberal structural adjustments assumes that women’s unpaid household and subsistence agricultural labor will be maintained whatever policies are enacted; as a result, cuts in services may greatly increase women’s labor. Structural adjustment policies that require the reduction in government expenditures through cutting social services disproportionately hit women’s jobs, which tend to be in the caregiving and services professions: nurses, social workers, educators. In Ukraine, for example, 80% of those who lost jobs in the first half of the 1990s were women. Many countries have been forced to eliminate subsidies on food prices, which usually hits the women’s budgets harder than the men’s (Brysk, 2004).

The household itself may be quite fluid, with men and women, young and old moving in different directions at different times. It is now common to speak of landless peasants, worker-peasants, proletarian-peasants, or other hyphenated hybrids. In Mexico, many are involved in migration to the northern part of the country or across the border into California, while others have small businesses or work as taxi drivers or vendors in the urban informal economies. Many men migrated for jobs, but women stayed home. Traditionally, women managed the stock and fields and cared for the children. Few women ever traveled more than ten miles from their homes. Women owned their own land, which was passed on hereditarily in the female line, and they also received fields to work from their husbands. As a result, women were expected to feed their families from their own granaries, utilizing their husbands’ granaries only when theirs were exhausted. Husbands thus controlled the surplus grain, which was employed along with wives’ labor to provide the hospitality by which men earned status. Relations between men and women were defined in terms of mutual obligations and duties: husband and wife, brother and sister, mother and son-in-law (Brysk 2004).

Science carries with it the hegemonic philosophy and power of its source. The ideology of Western “progress” toward industrialization and expanded consumer consumption is implicit even in such enlightened concepts as sustainability and participatory development. In contrast to the perspectives of many traditional cultural ecologies, science is designed to conquer and manipulate nature, rather than adapt to it. Although well-paying industrial jobs are limited in the Third World, their very existence, along with advertising, modern shopping centers laden with purchasable goods, and word-of-mouth from friends and relatives abroad, has raised consumption standards and life expectations, increasing the draw of migration to more developed regions. Globalization have changed consumption patterns because more good and services became available for both men and women.

Currently the vast majority of both male and female workers employed by companies who have labor-related codes are unaware of their existence. The challenge of the next ten years will be to ensure that codes begin to have a real impact at grassroots level. Codes are only one of several strategies being pursued to protect international labor rights and conditions – but they are important. “Always in search of cheaper labor, usually embodied by women and children, similar assembly plants have penetrated Central America and parts of the Caribbean” (Hu-Dehart 2003, 244).

In sum, globalization have transformed gender role and create new opportunities and threats for women. By redefining once-skilled labor as unskilled, women have replaced men at much lower wages. Companies argue that women need “flexible schedules” because of their responsibilities at home, and thus labor laws requiring benefits can be circumvented. Greater economic integration ensures greater cooperation among peoples and countries, leading to world peace. There are also a multitude of ideologies that view globalization as a disaster, a system that is exacerbating inequality, marginalizing the poorest people and countries, and creating an increasingly concentrated elite of wealth and power. Globalization is impacting people everywhere by erasing local boundaries and transforming identities. Restrictive categories like tribal, peasant, community, local, and even culture are giving way to terms that emphasize blending, plasticity, and ongoing identity-construction: ethnic, hybrid, national, and transnational. Fragmentation rather than homogenization is the result of globalization, as people constantly move across former boundaries, erasing the distinctions between traditional and modern, urban and rural, developed and underdeveloped. Development itself is exposed as a hegemonic Western discourse that is on its way out. The impact of globalization is negative as women are disempowered while being forced to add wage labor to household and subsistence work, communities are disrupted by circular or permanent migration, agriculture is concentrated in fewer and fewer large farms capable of efficiently exploiting available technology and distribution networks, and the displaced are funneled into sweatshops or the informal economy.

Works Cited Page

  1. Bee, A. Globalization, Grapes and Gender: Women’s Work in Traditional and Agro-Export Production in Northern Chile. The Geographical Journal, Vol. 166 (2), 2000, 255.
  2. Brysk, A. People out of Place: Globalization, Human Rights, and the Citizenship Gap. Gershon Shafir; Routledge, 2004
  3. Gmelch, George, and Sharon Bohn Gmelch. 1995. “Gender and Migration: The Readjustment of Women Migrants in Barbados, Ireland, and Newfoundland.” Human Organization 54 (4): 470-474.
  4. Hu-Dehart, E. Globalization and Its Discontents: Exposing the Underside. Frontiers – A Journal of Women’s Studies, Vol. 24, 2003, 244
  5. Lukose, R. Consuming Globalization: Youth and Gender in Kerala, India. Journal of Social History, Vol. 38 (4), 2005, 915.
  6. Mckay, D. Trans-Status Subjects: Gender in the Globalization of South and Southeast Asia, SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Vol. 19 (1), 2004, 130
  7. Powell, S. Women Shaping Globalization. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Vol. 20, April 2001, 94
  8. Rankin, K. Gender in Globalization. Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 70 (4), 2004, 493.

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