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The continuation of western dominance through the facade of globalisation

Over time we have seen a transformation in the global interactions amongst countries all across the world through economic, political and cultural ways. This development of interactions was termed Globalisation, a phrase coined by Theodore Levitt. Though globalisation has many definitions based on what perspective you are considering, the overall understanding is that “globalisation is the process by which ideas, goods and services spread throughout the world” by a multitude of means.

Whilst many consider globalisation a recent phenomena the reality is that it has been around for centuries. From the ages of the Roman Empire spreading its knowledge of economic and political systems across much of the ancient world, to the trade routes of the Silk Road that facilitated the transfer of goods and travellers across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Throughout this time there has been much discussion as to whether Globalisation is mere cover for the expansion of western power. Is what we’re seeing merely a continuation of dominance from the British Empire?

Illustration by PINN

When considering globalisation, the first thought that usually comes into people’s mind is the economic significance of the “unification and integration of international financial markets, as well as multinational corporations.” Hence it makes sense to consider it first and ascertain the ways in which western ideas govern the rules of global markets.

The impact the West has had in economic terms is seemingly intuitive, by the manner in which the West has developed at a faster rate than other parts of the world it has enabled them to pave the path towards economic prosperity. From this, it is undeniable that other countries have followed in the footsteps of the West to achieve a similar or even higher level of economic growth. Coordination between the developed and emerging economies can be seen in many different ways such as Foreign Direct Investments which are investments by a business/individual in one country into a firm overseas. Additionally, multiple trade agreements have been put in place to promote free movement of capital, labour, goods and services as can be seen in the EU as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement. The result of such economic prosperity has allowed the West to have considerable dominance in economic organisations/agreements. An example of this is the World Trade Organisation which has been criticised on multiple occasions for its complex legal system which limits the ability of developing countries to make a claim. This has meant that though 400 cases have been initiated, no African country has acted as a complainant. Is this a sign that these organisations are harnessing bureaucracy in order to ensure the West maintains its economic authority?

Despite all this, it is virtually impossible to ignore the growth of non-western countries, especially the BRICS countries. The breakthrough of BRICS has made its mark by showing the world that the power of growth doesn’t solely lie with the West. They have grown tremendously over the past 30 years as they owned 11% of the world’s GDP in 1990 which grew to 30% in 2014. The majority of the growth is due to India and China who have seen growth in GDP by 6.8% and 6.6% respectively in 2018 compared to 2.9% in the USA and 1.4% in the UK. But it’s not all India and China who should claim the credit as the miracle economies that include countries such as Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong saw their GDP grow twice as fast as any other regional grouping between 1965-1990. Perhaps this is a sign that the success of other parts of the world will bring an end to the West’s overwhelming prevalence.

Whilst economic globalisation is a vital topic of consideration the impact of political globalisation is not one to be ignored. This type concentrates on “policies designed to facilitate international trade and commerce” and the institutions that implement these policies. Such institutions can be both the national government as well as international institutions who have member states contributing from all parts of the world. Though the reach of these institutions seems to be far-reaching, the power dynamic within them seems to be unequal.

Whilst it cannot be overlooked that the West has led to many positive impacts on political systems through the spread of liberal values, some claim that the powers the West have in political affairs seem to be disproportionately high. A case of this can be seen in the UN Security Council whose members include China, the USA, France, the UK and the Russian Federation. From simple deduction, there appears to be an asymmetric representation of the West. Although this may not seem significant considering the multiple states who are members of the UN, the ramifications are greater than you think. With a seat at the UN Security Council comes the power to veto against a decision they disapprove of; the USA has already used such a power 3 times solely in the last 10 years in the defence of Israel after criticisms of its actions over Palestine and the occupied territory. This raises the question of whether one country should have the right to overrule the decisions backed by others? If not, can we truly deny the continuation of western dominance given the overbalanced power the West holds?

Regardless of the West’s power, the contributions of non-western countries are necessary now more than ever with the challenge we all face with climate change. Due to the environmental damage that arises from economic prosperity, many agreements have required the participation of developing states in order to combat one of the world’s greatest threats. One case can be seen with the Democratic Republic of Congo who pledged to reduce CO2 emissions after recognising its obligation from having the world’s second-largest forest. Also, the Ethiopian delegate has said the Government has started a new project which has led to 4 billion trees being planted in only 18 months. With the commitment needed from non-western countries the power they have on a global political stage has suggested that maybe the West are not the only ones in charge

Having looked at the economic and political aspects of globalisation it would be naive to disregard the value of cultural globalisation which “focuses on the social factors that cause cultures to converge.” Such factors can involve communication and transportation which have come as a result of the significant advancements made in technology. With the easement of travel and interactions, one could claim we are now more multicultural than ever, but is it really diverse or are we just heading to a homologous culture built upon western values?

The theme of culture can be dispersed into various different topics from languages to foods and people to clothes; arguably each with a different level of diversity within them. But one concept that lacks such diversity and is highly westernised is the concept of beauty. Western beauty pressures are present worldwide leading to a large proportion of characteristics being annulled for their inconsistency with these standards. A crucial element of this is the conformity to fair skin. The significance of these racist beauty practises has led to a whole market for face-whitening products designed to help women of colour fit into the western beauty ideal. When even appearance is composed by the west how can we ignore the similarities of globalisation to that of westernisation? Unfortunately, the hostility towards difference does not end there, as seen by a surge in support for nationalists parties across Europe. For the first time in 2017, the far-right Alternative for Germany party became part of the government with 12.6% of the vote; it has strongly advocated for strict immigration policies and has broken many anti-Nazi taboos. Similarly the Spanish party, Vox doubled its seats in the recent general election by calling for a suspension of autonomy for the north-eastern Catalonia region. Though despite all this animosity towards multiculturalism, it is hard to ignore the multitude of cultures surrounding us in everyday life. From the various different cuisines stocking high street restaurants to the many inter-ethnic families walking the street, we as a society are infused with a variety of tastes and values. These claims are not just opinions but are supported by the Office for National Statistics that say that the number of people in inter-ethnic relationships in England and Wales grew from 7% in 2001 to 9% in 2014. As well as this we are now seeing more Indian restaurants than fast food establishments throughout England! This all suggests that though there still remains discrimination towards non-western ideals, our connections to all parts of the world remain deeply infused within British society.

The topic of globalisation is one that is so broad and complex that every aspect of society has in some manner been impacted by worldwide integration, the arts being no exception. Whether it be through reading, music or movies we all consume the arts in our daily lives. I am sure you are all familiar with K-pop and the popularity it has within the UK, largely because it has been influenced by the Western entertainment industry. Not only are the music videos of K-pop bands such as BTS assimilating to the western style, but also collaborations with western artists including Skrillex and has become much more common. Though the manner in which individuals are impacted by the west starts as early as when you first learn to read and write. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie emphasised the power, dominating first world media can have in influencing what children believed was acceptable. Through the stories we read when we were younger we unknowingly accepted that stories could only contain individuals of a certain race, with a certain complexion and anyone who differed from this white norm would seem abnormal. On the rarity that someone who did not fit the usual convention were to be included, this would usually result in particular stereotype for all individuals of that descent, not only would this view be incomplete due to the diversity that exists in every part of the world but it would also signify a lack of awareness for other cultures. While this may seem like a minute issue the reality is that it incites an increase in support for far right nationalist parties as seen in the case of Europe. Therefore, any time you enjoy the arts be sure to look deeper into what is being portrayed.

Whilst the continuing impact of the West cannot be ignored, the question of whether its dominance remains an intrinsic part of globalisation has no clear answer. From all three paths of economic, political and cultural globalisation there are a multitude of reasons for either side of the argument. Whatever side you come down on it is important to consider where such ideas have come from and if they are truly promoting prosperity for all.

DCI’s main goal is to decode encrypted news for an enlightened citizen

Niralee Shah, Journalist at Décryptage Citoyen International

September 28th, 2021

To go further:

Dustin, D. (2016) The McDonaldization of social work. Routledge.

Schumacher, E.F. (2011) Small is beautiful: A study of economics as if people mattered. Random House.

Ford, R. and Goodwin, M. (2014) Revolt on the right: Explaining support for the radical right in Britain. Routledge.

Haidt, J. (2012) The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. Vintage.

References hyperlinked in text:

Theodore Levitt-

Definitions of Globalisation-

History of Globalisation-

Foreign Direct Investment-,assets%20in%20a%20foreign%20company.

The failure of the World Trade Organisation-

Impacts of BRICS-

The success of the miracle economies-

UN Security Council members-

How non-western countries have committed to fighting the battle against climate change-

Western beauty pressures-

Increase in support for nationalism across Europe-

Inter-ethnic couples statistics-

Diversity of restaurants in England-


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie-

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