Monday, September 12, 2011

Differences in Global Living

Differences in Global Living

Contemporary World Culture

Life Expectancy 2007 Estimates CIA World Factbook
Life Expectancy 2007 Estimates CIA World Factbook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Globalization is characterized by global technological advancements and the “increasingly interconnected world and economic globalization” (Johnson, p. 10). According to June Johnson, author of Global Issues, Local Arguments, perspectives on globalization are often based on demographics such as where a person is from, where they currently live, their age, race, social class, etc. (p. 10). There are a multitude of differences between those who live in industrialized nations and those who reside in third world countries. Some of those differences are positive while some are negative. Some times the differences are simply differences.
Moving forward in time lives will transform with the environment around us. Some will improve while others have the possibility of remaining the same or degrading on some level. Looking at these differences and understanding them is a better way for everyone to understand global culture and globalization as a whole. There are many examples to chose from. We will discuss the differences between a Chinese farmer, a US software engineer, and an African parent in the year 2006. We will also speculate, with some researched substantiation, what life would be like for each of these individuals in fifty years time in the year 2056.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Globalization and Contemporary World Culture

Contemporary World Culture

Globalization is very controversial. Most recently, President Obama was speaking on the outsourcing of American jobs that are now being held by citizens in India. President Obama stated that they are not harming the American economy by taking jobs, but rather boosting the American economy by helping American producers to thrive. However, there are many who see globalization differently. Generally speaking, demographics tend to guide a person’s outlook on globalization. A person’s country in which they reside, their economic status, race, age, etc. tend to guide how an individual perceive globalization (Johnson).

Those who favor the spread of globalization stand on the idea that the sharing of economic developments, such as technology and modern knowledge, will help make the world a more productive place to live for everyone. By improving the standard of living for all humans the quality of life improves as well as the longevity of each life. Global trade enhances the world as a whole, by sharing products that would not otherwise be available to everyone in the world.
Those who oppose the spread of globalization state that benefits that are reaped from globalization are unevenly spread throughout only the financially superior countries. 

These are typically countries that have helped contribute to the knowledge and technology that is spread across the globe. The countries that are unable to assist with the spread of globalization are not only typically lower in economic status, but also do not benefit from the shared technology. This is not an accurate spread for true globalization because only the wealthy, industrialized countries will benefit. Many are also concerned about the potential for poorer people to be exploited, for example working sweatshops under poor, unsafe conditions, due to the spread of globalization. Also, encouraging consumerism also creates additional waste.

The homogenization of globalization will lower wages and prices to the consumer. However, the lower wages prevent people from being able to live a higher level of life which is often the goal of the “American dream.” Having foreign companies pay their employees cheaper wages saves the company money, thus allowing the company to pass along the savings to the customers. However, the lower wages for the employees prevent the economic and social growth for those individuals.

If companies took the road of keeping industrialization within US borders then the potential for growth for US citizens is increased. The higher wages that would be paid in the US would be provided to American workers. However, the company would be less likely to be able to afford lower prices to pass along to consumers. This would also decrease the growth for the individual company.

Consumerism is essentially the consistent use of products available. The over-consumption of products around the world leads to additional pollution everywhere. Consumerism has the potential to be limited if globalization was restricted. The spread of modern products would not be so widely spread, thus would decrease the amount of byproduct and waste as a result.
Immigration also contributes to the spread of globalization. Not only do the immigrants bring their ideas, products, and labor to other parts of the world, but they are also willing to work any job in order to survive in their new home. By working for lower wages, this directly impacts those who were originally being paid to do comparable work for higher wages. This is an ongoing issue that often comes up when immigrants, legal and illegal, move to the US. The idea of the immigrants taking jobs away from Americans is one that leaves a sour taste in many people’s mouths. This decreases the number of jobs available to American citizens. The same applies in Japan, China, or Germany. If immigrants move to that country and are willing to work for lower wages, this decreases the availability of work for citizens.

Nutrition is an interesting factor when looking at globalization. Many parts of the world are not able to grow foods that are needed for a healthy, balanced diet. Whether it is due to poor crop conditions, unpleasant weather conditions, lack of knowledge for growth, or any other reasoning that is not controllable, permitting globalization nutrition for many is dramatically improved. The spread of fruits that do not grow in the desert or grains that do not grow in colder regions can help drastically improve the quality of life for everyone.

Johnson, June. Global Issues, Local Arguments: Readings for Writing. New York:

Saturday, September 10, 2011

AIDS Epidemic in Africa

Contemporary World Culture

As a parent living in Eritrea in the eastern part of Africa, life is often tiring and stressful. My wife and I have eight children ranging from ages newborn to twelve years old. We live in a modest hut near the edge of our village located in the Northern Red Sea sub-region. We married early and I now work as a fisherman to support our family. I trade some of the fish I catch in our village for vegetables and cloth in order to supply the family with other necessities.
In a typical day, I get up just before sunrise and head down to the Red Sea to meet by brothers and brother in-laws to begin our fishing for the day. My wife gets up at the same time and begins tending to the children. Once they are up, they pick berries and tend to other plants in our small vegetable garden. We eat primarily fish and vegetables, with some local berries that are available during some months of the year. They also go down to our local water source to replenish the buckets of water we have outside of our home. In regards to entertainment, we sing songs that are common to our culture and swim in the sea when fishing is done. Our family gets together with members of our extended family and together we have a feast. Our form of entertainment is definitely local, as we have very little technology in our part of the world, specifically our part of the country.
There are ongoing concerns about ethnic cleansing that is not targeted at my family directly, however it does impact us as we can often are caught in the crossfire. Those who are targeted for ethnic cleansing are the “Eritrean Red Sea Afars, an ethnic minority in with a nomadic life style” that are convinced the Eritrean government is behind the effort to exterminate them (Tekle). The Afars live south of my family in an area that is highly valuable in strategy for defense for the country as well as economic amenities (Tekle).
In addition to the internal conflict, Eritrea is constantly forced to protect their borders and waters from outside intruders. Most recently Yemen fishermen were captured while in Eritrean water territory. The Yemen foreign minister coordinated their release with President Isayas Afewerki and the Eritrean government (BBC October 19, 2010). The water is a valuable resource to Eritrea and it must be protected as much as the land.
Although there are many struggles my family and I endure, the most imminent concern is whether or not we have enough food for everyone. We have lost three of our children already to disease and lack of resources. Last year there was a shortage of food, however this year is much worse (BBC October 16, 2010). Food aid is not available to us this year so we will be reliant on what we can grow, trade, and fish for.
As our children get older, we worry about the widespread AIDS epidemic. In Eritrea, the region in which my family lives, the Northern Red Sea region, has the highest growth rate for AIDS in all of Eritrea (BBC October 13, 2010). My wife and I have been fortunate enough to have not contracted the virus, but as our children marry (some in a few years) we worry that they might find themselves with this disease. If they contract the disease, then so will our grandchildren. This will impact our family line and has the potential to eliminate our family tree.

Digest of reports from Eritrea's Hadas Eritrea newspaper of 13 October. (15  October
2010). BBC Monitoring Africa. Retrieved October 27, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.
Eritrea denies being hit by famine, starvation.” (16 October 2010). BBC Monitoring
Africa. Retrieved October 27, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.
Eritrea releases 68 Yemeni fishermen.” (19  October 2010). BBC Monitoring Middle East. Retrieved October 27, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.
Johnson, June. Global Issues, Local Arguments: Readings for Writing. New York:
Tekle, Tesfa-Alem Tekle.  (24  October 2010). Eritrea's exiled Afar opposition deny they
intend to secede. McClatchy - Tribune Business News, Retrieved October 27, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Life in the City

Contemporary World Culture

As a software engineer living in Seattle, Washington in 2006, life is comfortable. My family consists of my wife and our two children. My ancestors moved to the United States in the early 1900’s when many moved from Western Europe. As an Irish family, my ancestors struggled to gain any ground on their adjustment to the “land of opportunity.” As true with many immigrants, to my ancestors “Ellis Island was seen as a symbol of hope and opportunity for millions of immigrants” (DeWan). My family moved from the east coast to Seattle just after World War II in search of more opportunities.
An ordinary day involves my wife and I getting up each morning and preparing to go to work. Our children get ready for school, eat their breakfast, and catch the bus for school. My wife and I leave at the same time and head to work. Since I work as a software engineer, I spend most of my time using mental energy rather than physical energy. After work I head to the gym then head home. We have dinner as a family and then relax with a movie or television show before bed.
Generally speaking, we eat local foods daily. Asian food and fish, such as salmon, are common to our area. Japanese barbeque is also very popular in our area and is a family favorite (Food Notes). Seattle is not only a melting pot of different cultures from across the world, but also a melting pot of different styles of food. Japanese, Korean, Italian, German, Moldovan, and Mexican foods are just some of the popular restaurants in the area (Food Notes).
In order to provide products for our daily needs, we get in our family vehicle and drive to the local Fred Meyer or Costco. Here we can purchase any item such as food, cleaning supplies, electronics, etc. that we may need or want. Fred Meyer is very available in our area, as it is part of “one of the largest multi-regional supermarket retailers with $15 billion in sales” (Boley).
For entertainment my family often watches movies either at home or in the movie theater. We also attend concerts and sporting games, especially when the Seahawks are playing. Our forms of entertainment are very local. Not only do we watch many home games in Seattle, but we also watch mainstream movies that are common within the United States and western culture. College football is also very popular in our area, with the University of Washington Huskies often pitted against the Washington State University Cougars (Leonard). Another form of local entertainment is what our Pacific Science Center has to offer. There are often galactical presentations which are educational and interesting, as well as laser shows to modern and older styles of music. And for those who enjoy outside activities, there is always hiking, skiing, or snowboarding in the mountains, depending on the time of year (Leonard). They don’t call it the Evergreen State for nothing.
My greatest worry is finding myself unemployed. My two children are getting older and are in need of braces, school supplies, and eventually college tuition. Even though we have accumulated a modest savings, the economy is still in a rut and layoffs are always possible. In 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.2% and rising (Kearsley). Many politicians desire to increase taxes to fund programming, but many families are already stretched thin. The state of our economy is also concerning. Hopefully my job is secure enough for the time being.

Boley, Rob.  (7  November). Fred Meyer, Quality Food Centers, and Ralphs Grocery
Company combine to create one of the largest multi-regional supermarket retailers with $15 billion in sales. PR Newswire,1.  Retrieved October 24, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.
DeWan, George. STAFF WRITER. (1999, January 26). Looking Back / The Century
1900 to 1910 / A Nation on the Go / In planes. In cars. And on steamships headed for Ellis Island. Series: Looking Back. The Century 1900 to 1910. As the 20th Century fades into history, here is the first of an occasional series that looks back, decade by decade, at the events and personalities of the 1900s :[ALL EDITIONS]. Newsday (Combined Editions), p. B06. Retrieved October 23, 2010, from Newsday.
FOOD NOTES :[FINAL Edition]. (1993, January 20). Seattle Post - Intelligencer,p. c3.
Retrieved October 23, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.
FOOD NOTES :[FINAL Edition]. (1993, November 17). Seattle Post –
Intelligencer,p. C4.  Retrieved October 24, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.
Johnson, June. Global Issues, Local Arguments: Readings for Writing. New York:
Custom Publishing, 2007.
Kearsley, Kelly. (2009, February 25). State jobless numbers still climbing. The News
Tribune,A.1. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.
Leonard, Tara. (18 March). This Week's Arts and Entertainment Guide / Coming Up.
McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Retrieved October 24, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Information on child labour

Contemporary World Culture

Child labour information

Sweatshops are an ongoing issue for companies that make billions off of the sweat and hard work of people who are poorly compensated for their work. There are many retailers that I do not shop at for a variety of reasons, sweatshops being one of them. However, when it comes to the lower cost stores, I find myself in a struggle. Due to the economy, I struggle financially and feel forced in a sense to shop at stores, such as Walmart, for products that I need. The battle comes when I think about how poorly the workers who create the products are treated as well as the employees in the stores. I need to purchase essential items for my survival and comfort, but at what cost? My internal struggle is never ending.
Walmart is notorious for treating their workers poorly. Often they are underpaid and have little or not benefits. They are also treated disproportionately and are often discriminated against due to race, gender, legal status, etc. However, the low prices that Walmart offers fuels its success and “feeds the beast.” Indian shrimp companies are not much different, although the struggle of their workers is much more evident. Many of the workers, often times female, work under horrid conditions that jeopardize their health. Unfortunately, many of them are often held against their will to work long hours in these dilapidated conditions (p.43).
Regardless of the type of product we are purchasing, whether it’d be a pair of jeans, a comic book, or food such as shrimp, the source can often be the same. This is what matters, not what the end result is. If a sweatshop is utilized to create products that we purchase, we have a responsibility to at the very least know this. As individuals, if we still decide to purchase items, as I often do, ethically I believe we should at least know that they are or could be the product of a sweatshop or other insufferable production conditions. If we still chose to purchase the item for whatever reason, so be it. But we at least owe it to the workers to acknowledge their hard work and struggles.

Johnson, June. Global Issues, Local Arguments: Readings for Writing. New York:
Custom Publishing, 2007.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Culture of the World

Contemporary World Culture: Cultural differences

As a Chinese farmer, there are not many luxuries in life. We live a meager living, my seven children, my wife, and I. We have a small plot of land we grow crops on and raise a few sheep, a few chickens, and two goats on. My family and I live in the western part of China, where farms are more common. The closest major city is many weeks’ walk away, and many hours by motor vehicle if we should be so lucky. Our food we grow ourselves. We also have livestock and crops to trade at the local market for other necessities, like clothing and blankets. We also have sheep in order to get wool to trade for these items. Our household items consist of a few blankets to sleep with and a few pots to cook our food in over a fire.
Each day we get up just before dawn, myself and our oldest five children. We begin feeding the livestock and prepare ourselves for the days work. My wife stays inside with the two youngest children, tending to them and to the needs just outside the home. My children and I begin to work on the fields, ensuring that the crops are doing well and that there are no animals or pests destroying them. We work from dawn until dusk, which is when we first eat for the day. There is not much food to go around, so my wife and I eat once a day, while the children eat in the morning and in the evening. Our main staple is rice, but we also have eggs from the chickens and any rabbits we may find on our land.
There is no time for entertainment most days. But when we do have time to celebrate we sing and draw pictures in the ground. We tell stories of legends and our ancestors, passing along the knowledge that we have. Our entertainment is very local to our people. We would like our children to get an education, but we are not educated ourselves and are too poor to send our children to a real Chinese school where they can learn to read and write.
As a farmer in China, my greatest worry is ensuring there are enough supplies for basic needs to take care of my family. Making sure there is enough food for everyone and hoping that no one falls ill, because we cannot afford a doctor and the nearest one is very far away. Another fear is that of natural disaster. If there is a natural disaster, such as torrential rains, then the crops we harvest will be ruined and my family will have no way to eat or purchase other items we need. One immediate concern is the increased popularity of the Chinese lanterns which are a great threat to our crops and our livestock. Many livestock have eaten the casings for these lanterns which are ignited for celebrations. This has resulted in their death and ultimately is our loss. Also, wires from these lanterns have caused injuries to livestock, and some deaths as well. (Lavigueur).

Johnson, June. Global Issues, Local Arguments: Readings for Writing. New York:
Custom Publishing, 2007.
Lavigueur, Nick. (2010, July 3). “Farmers demand ban on Chinese lanterns :Livestock
injured by wires and fire risk to crops.” Huddersfield Daily Examiner,27. Retrieved October 17, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.

Different culture in the world

Contemporary World Culture
New world culture

By definition, globalization is “the increasing interconnectedness of all parts of the world in terms of communication, trade, business, politics, travel, and culture” (Johnson). Many items are founded within western culture, predominantly American within pop culture. The historical basis of items such as fast food, movies, televisions, and music are often linked back to American culture. Although many different cultures and countries have their own music, mainstream music is often linked to what is popular in America. Since these modern elements of culture often begin in America and spread throughout a large portion of the world, it is easy to see how many people believe that an item’s history and origin label it as “American” (Johnson).
The origin of an item, such as the fast food restaurant McDonalds, is not overlooked even when the restaurants are spread throughout the world. In the 1970’s McDonalds began to spread to other countries, carrying with them the idea of American fast food service and products. Even though the menu may vary from location to location, the origin from which it was founded maintains consistent and does not go unnoticed. The logo itself is what people view as the spread of Americanization across the globe. Although the individual restaurants may be very different, the recognition of the Golden Arches is what makes people believe that America is spreading.
Not only food and restaurants carry over from American culture to other nations. Movies and television shows also carry over. The Simpsons, for example, are played in many other countries, predominantly in Western Europe. This is a show that has been long running and has significant American ties to it. Many of the newer episodes tackle American politics and social issues. Not only is the origin of The Simpsons tied to the US, but the ongoing messages throughout the shows also reminds the viewers that this is an American show and is part of America. And this is just one example of visual media that is shown worldwide that is linked to America.
Music is definitely a component that can be linked back to a specific part of the world. In the US, rap music is quite popular and has spread throughout the world. Other types of music have strong roots in other countries, such as pop in the UK and heavy metal in Germany. However, rap music has evolved from America. The spread of this style of music can be linked back to the difficulties minorities have faced within the American poverty-stricken subcultures, and even further roots into the dark slave days in America. This type of music is played across the world, with many concert tours going overseas.
Looking at food/dining, visual entertainment, and audio entertainment, it is easy to see how many believe that the American culture is the head of globalization. The financial support to push American products across the world is often unmatched by other companies founded in other countries. However, when looking at the specific data the facts show a different angel. American pop culture has spread rather rapidly across the world since the 1950’s. But we must look at how in the last decade “Europe’s top companies have beaten America’s by an often substantial margin” (Theil). The growth of European companies in regards to exports has increased approximately 17% while for the US exports have decreased 11%. “America’s roster of large global companies has been mostly static and declining” (Theil).
From a social aspect it appears that American culture is the leader of globalization. However, when looking at concrete data that is not the case. According to Marling, “globalization is not as American as we think it is. It’s just that everyone, especially Americans, recognizes American films, language, and logos when abroad, and draws the conclusion that the world is becoming Americanized.” Marling goes on to say:
“US logos are taken as evidence of cultural imperialism. WE all see Visa, McDonald’s, KFC, Coke, and Walmart. Mickey Mouse grins at us in France and Japan. Bruce Willis frowns from billboards and posters. CSI: Miami and Everybody Loves Raymond appear on the hotels’ cable channel. The taxi drivers and hotel employees speak a little English. All this seems part of a creeping ‘Americanization.’”
Essentially what Marling is trying to point out is that we associate certain logos, faces, titles, etc. with American culture, however there are many differences that make this spread of global culture not solely American. Modern culture is spreading across the globe, not just American culture. Modern culture is fueled by industrialized nations, such as those found in Europe, Australia, and North America. All of these geographical locations fuel globalization. However, it appears that most of the world sees America as the main fuel behind the spread.
one world culture
culture around the world

Johnson, June. “Global Issues: Local Arguments, Reading for Writing, Custom Edition.
New York: Custom Publishing, 2007.
Marling, William H. How “American” Is Globalization? Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins
University Press, 2006.
Theil, Stefan. (2010, April). “Why Europe Will Win :Forget the conventional wisdom.
European firms are faster-growing, more profitable, and better at globalization than their American rivals.” Newsweek, 155(17). Retrieved October 3, 2010, from ProQuest Health Management. 

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