Globalisation and Social Change Notes Class 12 CBSE


The term ‘globalisation’ generally indicates the inter-relationships and interlinking between the local and global markets. This definition of globalisation has far reaching effects on the society. Sociology as an academic discipline does not just studies the cultural and social consequences of globalisation.

Infact, it uses the sociological imagination to make sense of the connection that it creates between the individual and society, the micro and macro, and the local and global. In other words, it seeks to understand how global developments are affecting the lives of people.

Sociological Significance of Globalisation

Globalisation has great social significance. With the opening up of the market and removal of restrictions to the import of many products, a variety of goods from different corners of the world can be easily found in our nearby stores. Since 1st April, 2001, all types of Quantitative Restrictions (QR) on imports were withdrawn. These same set of policy changes affects consumers and producers differently On one side, it may mean greater choices for urban consumers, on the other side it may mean a crisis of livelihood for farmers.

These changes are personal because they affect individual’s lives and lifestyles. They are also linked to public policies adopted by the government and its agreement with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Likewise macro policy changes have meant that instead of one television channel, we have a number of channels today. The dramatic changes in the media are perhaps the most visible effect of globalisation.

Thus, the remote policies of globalisation have a close interconnection with personal lives of people. Sociology, then makes this connection between the personal and the public.

Consequently, sociology study villages, families, movements, child rearing practices, work and leisure, bureaucratic organisations or castes taking the global interconnections into account.

Effect of Globalisation on Society

The effect of globalisation is far-reaching. It affects every individual in a different manner. Thus, while for some it may mean new opportunities, for others it means loss of livelihood. Some examples area as follows:

(a) Women like silk spinners and twisters of Bihar lost their jobs as Chinese and Korean silk entered the market. Weavers and consumers prefer this yarn as it was cheaper and brighter.

(b) Large fishing vessels into Indian Ocean take away most of the fish that used to be earlier collected by Indian fishing vessels. It destroyed the livelihood of local fishermen, women fish sorters, dryers, vendors and net makers.

(c) Women gum collectors, who were picking gum from julifera (Bavel trees) in Gujarat lost their livelihood due to import of cheaper gum from Sudan.

(d) In almost all cities of India, the rag pickers lost some of their employment due to import of waster paper from developed countries.

Because of the various impacts of globalisation on different sections of society scholars are sharply divided views about the impact of globalisation. On one hand some scholars believe that globalisation is necessary to bring about a new world. On the other, scholars argue that while privileged sections may benefit, the condition of the large section of society who are already excluded may become worse.

Global Interconnections

The term globalisation is believed to be new concept, but it existed in the earlier times as well. India as well as different parts of the world have been interacting with each other before independence or colonial rule.

The Early Years of Global Connection

India was not isolated (inaccessible) from the world even two thousand years ago. India was connected through Silk Route to other parts of the world or other civilizations which existed in China, Persia, Egypt and Rome. Many people came here as traders, as conquerors and as migrants in search of new lands and settled down here. Take for example, Panini, the greatest grammarian of Sanskrit, was of Afghan origin. The Chinese scholar Yi Fung learned Sanskrit on his way from China to India. Another proof of such interaction is the influence they had in languages and vocabularies throughout Asia from Thailand to Malay to Indo-China, Indonesia the Phillippines, Korea and Japan.

Thus, the global interactions are not new development to India.

Colonialism and the Global Connection

The social and economic development in modern India began from the colonial period. Colonialism was a part of the system that required new sources of capital, raw materials, energy, markets and global network that sustained it.

Globalisation identifies large scale movement or migration of people as a defining feature. During the colonial rule, trading took place where British colonies were established. Indentured labourers were taken away in ships from India to different parts of Asia, Africa and America. The slave trade transferred many Africans away to distant shores either willingly or forcefully.

Independent India and the World

After independence, India maintained its global interactions. Commitment to liberation struggles throughout the world and solidarity with people from different parts of the world was a vision for global interaction. Many Indians went abroad to study or work making migration an ongoing process.

Export and import of raw materials, goods and technology kept on developing since independence and foreign firms did and still operate in India. Thus, globalisation had been a part of the country since long.

Understanding Globalisation

The understanding of globalisation as just about global interconnection is derived from the knowledge of Western  capitalism. The Western capitalism of Europe was both built upon and maintained by global control over resources of other countries as in colonialism.

However, globalisation is an intense and complex process. It includes the changes in the capitalist system of production and communication, organisation of labour and capital, technological innovations and cultural experiences, ways of governance and social movements. It includes all those changes in which the way we work or line transformed.

Thus, globalisation can be defined as the growing interdependence between different people, regions and countries in the world as social and economic relationship come to stretch world wide. Economic forces as well as the development of information and communication technologies have intensified speed and scope of interaction between people all over the world.

Dimensions of Globalisation

Globalisation can be understood according to its various dimensions which are as follows:

The Economic Dimension

After adoption of Economic Policy of 1991 (policy of liberalisation) in India, various changes have taken place. These changes are termed as liberalisation policies. Following are the economic factors of globalisation in India:

(i) The Economic Policy of Liberalisation

Globalisation involves a stretching of social and economic relationships throughout the world with the help of certain economic policies. This process in India is broadly termed as liberalisation.

Liberalisation refers to a range of policy decisions that the Indian state took since 1991 to open up the Indian economy to the world market.

This marked a break with an earlier stated policy of government to have a greater control over the economy. Some of the features of economic policy of liberalisation are as follows:

(a) The state after independence had put in place a large a number of laws that ensured that the Indian market and Indian indigenous business were protected from competition of the wider world.

(b) The state believed that the country would be at a disadvantage in a free-market situation. It also believed that the market alone would not be able to look after all the welfare of the people, particularly its disadvantaged section. It felt that it had an important role to play for the welfare of the people.

(c) Liberalisation of the economy marked a break from such an economy where the government had a great control. It meant the steady removal of the rules that regulated Indian trade and finance regulations through measures described as economic reforms.

(d) Since July 1991, the Indian economy has witnessed a series of reforms in all major sectors of the economy including agriculture, industry, trade, foreign investment and technology, public sector, financial institutions, etc.

(e) The basic assumption behind the measures was that greater integration into the global market would be beneficial to Indian economy. The liberalisation also helps in taking loans from international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These loans are given on certain conditions.

(f) The government makes commitments to pursue certain kind of economic measures that involve a policy of structural adjustments. These adjustments usually mean cuts in state expenditure on the social sector such as health, education and social security. It is also supported by World Trade Organisation (WTO).

(ii) The Transnational Corporations (TNC)

Transnational Corporations are the companies that produce goods or market services in more than one country.

These companies may be relatively small firms with one or two factories outside the country in which they are based. TNCs could also be great international organisations whose operations cover the globe.

For example, Coca Cola, General Motors, Colgae-Plamolive, Mitsubishi and Kodak and so on. TNCs are oriented to the global markets and global profits even if they have a clear national base. Some Indian corporations are also becoming transnational.

(iii) The Electronic Economy

It is another factor that supports economic globalisation. Banks, corporations, fund managers and individual investors are able to shift funds internationally with a click of mouse.

Such transactions can happen only because of the communication revolution. This new ability to move ‘electronic money’ instantaneously carries with it great risks. One major risk in this case is, sometimes foreign companies buy up stock in bulk, make profit and then sell it back to stock holders.

(iv) Weightless or Knowledge Economy

The weightless economy is one in which products have their base in information, as in the case with computer software, media and entertainment products and internet-based services.

A knowledge economy is one in which working people are not directly involved in the production of commodities or distribution of material goods, but involved in their design, development, technology, marketing, sale and servicing.

According to Charles Leadbeater, we now do not produce things that are weighted, touched or that can be easily measured. Money is then earned through providing service, judgement, information and analysis. This, he calls thin air business. It can range for the neighbourhood catering service to large organisations involved in providing a host of services or both professionals meets like conferences to family events like weddings.

(v) Globalisation of Finance

It takes place due to the information technology revolution. Globally integrated financial markets undertake billions of dollars worth transactions within seconds in the electronic circuits. There is 24-hour trading in capital and security markets. Cities such as New York, Tokyo, London and Mumbai are the key centers for financial trading. Mumbai is also known as the financial capital of India.

Global Communications

Advances and improvement in technology and the world’s telecommunication infrastructure have led to revolutionary changes in global communication. Some homes and many offices have multiple links to the outside world such as telephones, cell phones, fax machines, digital and cable television , electronic mail and internet.

Some of us may have these communication facilities and some of us may not. This is indicative of a phenomenon which is often termed as the digital divide in India. Despite this digital divide these forms of technology facilitate the compression of time and space. Wherein two individuals located anywhere in the world cannot only talk but also share documents and images to each other with the help of satellite technology.

Thus, the process of globalisation is giving rise to network and media society. To create global interconnectedness more efficiently, the Government of India has initiated an ambitious programme in the form of Digital India, in which every exchange will incorporate digitisation. It will transform India into a ‘digitally empowered society and knowledge economy’.

India’s Telecommunication Expansion

When India gained Independence in 1947, the new nation had 84,000 telephone lines for its population of 350 million. Thirty-three years later, by 1980, India’s telephone service was still bad with only 2.5 million telephones and 12,000 public phones for a population of 700 million and only 3 per cent of India’s 600,000 villages had telephones.

However, in the early 1990s, a great change occurred in the telecommunication scenario; by 1999, India had installed a network of over 25 million telephone lines, spread across 300 cities, 4,869 towns and 310,897 villages making India’s telecommunication network the ninth largest in the world.

Between 1988 and 1998, the number of villages with some kind of telephone facility increased from 27,316 to 300,000 (half of villages in India).

Emergence of PCO

By 2000, some 650,000 Public Call Offices (PCOs) provided reliable telephone service, where people can simply walk in to make a call and pay the metered charges, had mushroomed all over India, including remote, rural, hilly and tribal areas.

The emergence of PCOs satisfies the strong Indian need of keeping in touch with family members. Telephone expansion in India, thus, serves a strong sociocultural function for its users, in addition to a commercial one.

Banning Sale of Prepaid Cash Cards

In 1988, the Indian Home Ministry banned the open sale of prepaid cash cards for mobile telephones due to the fear of increasing crimes. Telephone operators were mandated to verify the name and address of a customer before retailing a cash card. This created resentment among private operators because they were losing around half of their business.

This loss resultant from the newly mandated tax return system in which anyone who had a mobile telephone had to submit his income tax. Such a decree presumed that if any one can own a mobile (a luxury item) then the individual had earned enough to file a tax return.

Indian Mobile Markets

India has become one of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world. The mobile services were commercially launched in August 1995 in India. In the initial 5-6 years, the average monthly subscribers additions were around 0.05 to 0.1 million only and the total mobile subscribers base in December 2002 stood at 10.5 million.

Although mobile telephones followed the New Telecom Policy, 1994, growth was slow in the early years because of the high price of handsets, as well as the high tariff structure of mobile telephones.

With the New Telecom Policy in 1999, the industry heralded several pro-consumer initiatives. Mobile subscriber additions started picking up. The number of mobile phones added throughout the country in 2003 was 16 million, followed by 22 million in 2004 and 32 million in 2005. The only countries with more mobile phones than India with 123.44 million mobile phones (September 2006) are China and 408 million, USA with 170 million, and Russia with 130 million.

By 2006, we have become the country with the fourth largest usage of cell phones. Cellular telephoney have become a part of the self for most urban-based middle class youth.

They have become so much part of our life that students are ready to go on a strike and appeal to the President of the country when denied cell phone usage in colleges.

Globalisation and Labour

Globalisation and a New International Division of Labour

A new international division of labour has emerged in which more and more routine manufacturing production and employment is done in Third World cities. Wherever good infrastructure and cheap labour as well as resources area available in plenty, the Multinational Corporations (MNCs) come up and grow their market.

These companies frequently shift the location which leads to the feeling of vulnerability and insecurity among labourers. This flexibility of labour often works in favour of the producers. The example of Nike company illustrate how this works.

Nike shoes founder Phil Knight imported shoes from Japan and sold them at athletics meetings. The company grew to a multinational enterprise, a transnational corporation. Its headquarters is in Beverton, just outside Portland, Oregon. Initially the shoes were imported from Japan, but as costs increased production shifted to South Korea in mid 1970s. In the 1980s due to the increase in labour costs, the production widened to Thailand and Indonesia and by 1990s India became a producer of Nike.

Instead of mass production of goods at a centralised location (Fordism), we have moved to a system of flexible production at dispersed locations (Post-Fordism).

Globalisation and Employment

The relationship between employment and globalisation is another key issue regarding globalisation and labour. Before globalisation, the employment scenario was different. For the middle class youth from urban centres, globalisation and the IT revolution has opened up new career opportunities.

Instead of routinely picking up BSc/BA/BCom degree from colleges, they are learning computer languages or taking up jobs at call centers or BPO companies (Business Process Outsourcing). They also work as sales persons in shopping malls or pick up jobs at the various restaurants that have opened up.

Globalisation and Political Changes

The collapse of the socialist world not only hastened (made quick) globalisation but also gave a specific economic and political approach to the economic policies that strengthened globalisation.

These changes are called as neo-liberal economic measures. Broadly these policies reflect a political vision of free enterprise which believes that a free reign to market forces will be both efficient and fair. It is, therefore, critical of both state regulation and state subsidies.

The existing process of globalisation in this sense does have a political vision as much as an economic vision. However, the possibilities that there can be a globalisation, that is one, which includes all sections of society do exist.

Another significant political divelopment which accompanies globalisation is the growth of international and regional mechanisms for political collaboration. Examples of such regional associations are European Union (EU), the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) , South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and South Asian Federation of Trade Association (SAFTA).

The other political dimension is the rise of International Governmental Organisations (IGOs) and International Non-Governmental Organisation. IGOs are the bodies that are established by participating government and given responsibility for regulating or overseeing a particular domain of activity that is transnational in scope.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is one of the International Government Organisations (IGOs) that has a major say in the rules that govern trade practices.

INGOs differ  from intergovernmental organisation in that they are affiliated with government insitutions. Rather INGOs are independent organisations, which make policy decisions and address issues. Some of the best known International Greenpeace, Red Cross and Amnesty International, Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders), etc.

Globalisation of culture refers to the mixing of the global culture with the local culture. There are many ways in which globalisation affects culture.

The open-ended approach of the Indian community towards the various cultural influences has enriched the society, culture and tradition.

As a result of this open-ended approach, various debates regarding the political and economic issues and labour changes in clothes, styles, music, films, languages, etc. have come forward.

Globalisation and Culture

Globalisation of culture refers to the mixing of the global culture with the local culture. There are many ways in which globalisation affects culture.

The open-ended approach of the Indian community towards the various cultural influences has enriched the society, culture and tradition.

As a result of this open-ended approach, various debates regarding the political and economic issues and about changes in clothes, styles, music, films, languages etc. have come forward.

Homogenisation Versus Globalisation of Culture

Within the globalisation and its impact of culture, a central contention is between homogenisation and glocalisation of culture. Homogenity means assuming that all culture will be similar. Glocalisation is the mixing of the global with the local culture. Some scholars argue that globalisation will lead to homegenity while others focus on glocalistion as a note entirely spontaneous yet not entirely delinked process.

Glocalisation for them is a strange adopted by foreign firms to deal with local traditions in order to enhance their marketability.

In India, the foreign television channels like Star, MTV, Channel V, and Cartoon Network show programmes in Indian languages. Even McDonald sells only vegetarian and chicken products and goes vegetarian during Navaratri festival.

In the field of music, one can see the growth of popularity of Bhangra pop, Indi pop, fusion music and even remixes. With respect to this debate of tradition and culture, the reformers and nationalists of India focussed on the open-endedness of our culture.

Culture as such cannot be seen as an unchanging fixed entity that can either collapse or remain the same when faced with social change.

Gender and Culture

The defenders of traditional culture, defend their undemocratic and discriminating practices against women in the name of cultural identity. These could range from defence of sati to defence of women’s exclusion from education and participation in public matters.

These unhealthy practices against women are identified and might be defended under the garb (veil) of globalisation. In India, we have been able to retain and develop a democratic tradition and culture that allows us to defeat culture in a more inclusive and democratic fashion.

Culture of Consumption

The cultural consumption plays a crucial role in the process of globalisation especially in shaping the growth of cities. Till the 1970s, the manufacturing industries used to play a major role in the growth of cities. Today, the cultural consumption of art, food, fashion, music tourism to a large extent shapes the growth of cities.

This is evident in the growth of shopping malls, multiplex cinema halls, amusement parks and ‘water world’ that has become a part of every major city in India. Further advertisements and the media also promote a culture where spending is important.

While successive successes in fashion pageants like Miss Universe and Miss World have led to a tremendous growth in the industries of fashion, cosmetics and health, popular game shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati makes one believe that one can turn over his/her fortune over a few games.

Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is a branch of management theory that seeks to increase productivity and competitiveness through the creation of a unique organisational culture involving all members of a firm. Every company creates a dynamic corporate culture-involving company events, rituals and traditions, which is thought to enhance employee loyalty and promote group solidarity. It also refers to way of doing things of promotion and packaging products.

The spread of multinational companies and the opportunities opened up by the information technology revolution has created class of upwardly mobile professionals working in software firms, multinational banks, chartered accountancy firms, stock markets, travel, fashion designing, entertainment, media and other allied fields. These professionals have stressful work schedules, get high salaries and are the main clients of the booming consumer industry of the metropolitan cities in India.

Threat to Indigenous Craft

The link between cultural forms and globalisation is evident from the condition of many indigenous craft, literary traditions and knowledge systems. There are some crafts that have originated in India and during the years lost their importance after globalisation. The scale and intensity of this loss of significance is so enormous that people have lost their livelihood and even resorted to extreme measured such as suicides.

For instance 30 theatre groups, which were active textile mills area of Parel and Girgaum of Mumbai city have become defunct, as most of the mill workers are out of jobs in these areas. Some year back there were large number of suicides by the traditional weavers in Sircilla village of Karimnagar District and in Dubakka village in Medak district of Andhra Pradesh.

Thus, these weavers with no means to invest in technology were unable to adapt to the changing consumer tastes and competitions from power looms.

Threat to Literary Tradition and Knowledge System

Various forms of traditional knowledge systems especially in the field of medicine and agriculture have been preserved and passed on from one generation to the other. Recent attempts by some multinational companies to patent the use of Tulsi, Haldi (turmeric), Rudraksha and Basmati rice has highlighted the need for protecting the base of its indigenous knowledge system.