Globalization affects everyone everywhere and is quite a controversial topic.  Some say it is a blessing, others a curse and yet others believe it will bring about the downfall of humanity. What is Globalization? Globalization is the interconnectedness of societies and places through the uniting processes of economic, political, and cultural change. The affects of globalization are most visible in the environment, culture, economics and politics. The most important of these types of globalization is economics as economics drives advancement and discovery.

Country back roads leading where?
Country back roads leading where?

Seemingly contradictory to globalization is localization.  The current idea of Western urban industrial culture is spreading, but local, distinctive cultures persist sometimes leading to conflict. Local is often seen as traditional and closed and is concerned with loss of cultural traits. Localization is most evident in political nationalism, local customs and practices, changing and strengthening of ideologies and religious differences. Cultures of Bosnia, Afghanistan and the Middle East are contemporary examples of ethnic conflict from pressures of larger groups dominating outlying groups. An example here in the United States of local ideologies creating wide reaching conflict was the Civil War. The conflict was not just about slavery but opposing ideologies and economics. The ideological effects of this conflict are still present especially in many southern states.

The study of geography often uses models to explain relationships and the global and local relationship is no exception.  Models for the local-global relationship include mosaic, system and network.  The mosaic model looks at a collection of locals.  As in art, the mosaic model uses a collection of tiles, distinct local cultures, which when brought together create a picture of a global society. Each region of the United States has its own unique characteristic but when taken together creates an American culture. Many cultures worldwide combine to create a primarily western culture. However, there are still many locals that do not fit the Western model.The system model reveals a local system that is produced by the global.  Not through internal qualities but through each local’s relationship to the world.  This is to say that a local community has no independence.  The power of global forces imposes itself on local communities that have no recourse but to comply.  This is common to local communities within countries or regions.

Cell phones invade a quaint Amish town
Cell phones invade a quaint Amish town

Finally, the network model emphasizes connections.  The local becomes global and the global becomes local. These connections are symbiotic in nature, each contributing to the characteristics of the other. Local manufacturing companies produce parts for global corporations and in turn these local communities purchase and use product produced worldwide.  American companies such as Coca-Cola and McDonalds serve nearly all countries.  Products, especially electronics and foods are produced worldwide and consumed locally. Of these three models the network model is the most realistic representation of the local-global relationship.

Children practice the skill of candle making at a pre-1840s rendezvous, Mounds State Park, Indiana
Children practice the skill of candle making at a pre-1840s rendezvous, Mounds State Park, Indiana

Globalization is not a new concept. Most people would recognize the industrial revolution as the beginning of globalization; however, far reaching affects of global interaction is evidenced to the earliest of civilizations of prehistoric America, Egypt, India and Mesopotamia. Trade routes transferred material and nonmaterial culture which then changed ancient cultures as they adapted new goods and ideologies into their civilization.


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