Global Geography: An Introduction

Global geography combines thematic geography with the study of world regions. Central to this approach is the interrelationship between geography, globalization and the historical and contemporary impact on society.

Globalization has impacted all regions of the world and geography is most appropriate for the examination of this topic. Geography attempts to understand the myriad forces that shape the world’s diverse physical and social environments; of how people use the world and how people make “place” of “space”. Global, regional, country, and local linkages, together with inputs from the past and present give character to each part of the Earth’s surface.

Geography and Globalization

Globalization and environmental issues

The natural environment is the ultimate linkage among people as all are affected by it. Recently there has been a growing awareness of the globalization of nature, of natural environmental forces and the impact to human activities. Many geographers focus on such subjects as El Nino, global warming, the ozone hole over Antarctica, destruction of tropical rain forests, natural hazards, and pollution.

Globalization of Culture

Resistance to globalization is most often found in cultural defenses. However, while some resist globalization others embrace the diversity that it brings. The effect of cultural suppression incites revival and intensification of cultural expression, solidifies cultural groups and intensifies distinction from others not of the same culture, for example, the resurgence of Islamic values in face of encroaching Western secularization. Expressions of culture include religious and linguistic diversity, social customs, technological level, approach to family life and gender roles.

Globalization has triggered cultural change and the result is hybridization (a two-way flow). The spread of “European” Culture (Westernization) is the catalyst for the transfer of cultural traits. Westernization is the idea that Western culture with its emphasis on democracy, individualism, and human rights should be extended to rest of the world. The resulting patterns of modernization have resulted in the homogenization of society.

Globalization and the Economic New World Order

Economic activities are the prime movers behind globalization through the expansion of the capitalist market system. The United States, Western Europe, Japan and multinational corporations are principal players in the diffusion of capitalism. Globalization is resulting in the economic reorganization of the world through global communications, global transportation, transnational conglomerate corporations, international financial institutions, global free-trade agreements, homogenous global consumer culture, and globalized aspirations for democracy and freedom.

With the diffusion of Westernization the changing economic structure resulted in a new world order. The Core of westernization is the center of social activity and includes a wide range of products and services, advanced technology, high wages, import of raw materials & cheap goods, and export of expensive manufactured goods and services. In addition, core countries invest in each other’s economy and trade. Core countries include the United States and Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand as well as Japan.

The periphery is dependent interaction with the core and includes production of a narrow range of products, less advanced technology, lower wages, and the local economy produce for the local. In addition, periphery countries depend on core countries for purchases, exports and to supply capital needs. Periphery counties include Africa, parts of South and Central America and Asia.

Not all countries fit well in the definition of either the core or periphery. These countries are in transition and are referred to as the semiperiphery. They can be in transition in either direction; poor countries becoming increasingly industrialized or industrial countries experiencing economic setback as Russia saw after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Semiperiphery countries are still dependent on core countries but have peripheral countries depend on them. Examples of semiperiphery countries include South Korea, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.

Globalization of Politics and Conflict

The end of the Cold War, the decline of Communism, the continued power of the United States, and regional rivalries are political forces that have shaped the New Global Order, should I say disorder? The 1990s was a watershed in the geopolitical relations of countries. The breakup of Soviet Block in 1991 ended the Three World era, the U.S. emerged as single superpower and the USSR disintegrated as unit. China underwent collapse associated with the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution and Africa, Central America, southeastern Europe and Asia has seen an increase of war.

Inequalities in geopolitics often results in conflict such as Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Indo-Pakistani wars or the Rwandan Genocide.

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