Globalization: A positive idea with a hidden agenda?

The term globalization has a significant role in all forms of society, developed and developing. Globalization is essential to ICT4D because it has the power to change people’s lives through interconnectedness of human activity around the world and the spread of new ideas and innovations. In a globalized world, the problems of the poor can become the problems of those at the top of the pyramid. Developed countries can suffer from the problems of developing countries through migration, terrorism, disease epidemics, etc. The need to utilize globalization and improved technologies worldwide to cease this dilemma is instrumental in the process of international development. As the poor get richer, they buy more of the goods and services that industrialized countries produce, ensuring a benefit to all from poverty reduction. Globalization created a “win-win” situation for all by connecting and spreading ideas among countries.

  • A prime example of this is the use of mobile phones. Mobile phones were primarily used in the developed countries of Europe and the US, but now we are seeing more and more people in developing countries utilizing these communication devices for a vast number of reasons, ranging from communication to data collection to health care implementation. The developing countries are obtaining technologies, while the developed countries can produce more of these technologies due to the increase in demand. Development workers now are able to implement programs in Africa, a place where the rate of cell phone user is less than the city of Seoul, Korea not long ago, to now a place where mobile phones are a form of communication in places where infrastructure and finances are not sufficient to provide proper communication between people. This led to an increase in opportunities in places that desperately need them.
  • Fieldwork in Kenya and other regions of Sub-Saharan Africa look at how mobile phones are being adopted and used in villages as an example of social innovation technology. These mobile phones aren’t the same technology here in the developed world as in the developing world, where landlines and electricity are limited. The implementation of mobile phones usage can help reshape rural livelihoods. Mobile phone usage would have not spread to Africa if globalization didn’t play such a significant role.

However, globalization isn’t always a good thing according to different perspectives. Sure there are many positive effects of globalization, but there have been links to some negative effects.

  • Globalization has been characterized as having a tendency for uniformity.
  • Globalization is heavily driven by the strong fundamental values of capitalism. The capitalistic enterprises that play a pivotal role in globalization are driven by the constant search for cheaper raw materials and production resources, especially labor, and expanding their markets for optimal profits.
  • There are evidences to date that suggest that ICTs can make a significant difference to the lives of the poor and marginalized communities, but many well-intentioned projects have failed.

The integration of ICTs more widely into the globalization project may have actually led to expanding inequalities rather than reducing them. If this essentially is the big hidden picture behind globalization and the push from developed countries to expand ICT4D into poor developing countries, what can we make of globalization and the overall goal for ICT4D?  If the hidden agenda is true, it presents a challenge to accept that ICTs can be used to benefit the poor and marginalized, since the dominant forces within our global society will continue to ensure that the inequalities are maintained and reinforced. Personally, I think that globalization along with the increase in ICT4D are positive entities to the international development world. Although there are many different perspectives along with conspiracy theories, I believe that using globalization to create ICT4D opportunities will be more beneficial than harmful in the long run regardless of behind the scene intentions. Of course there will be problems when globalization increase the usage of ICTs in developing countries due to the lack of resources, compatibility, and infrastructures, but this is something that we can’t avoid. This is why globalization is needed in order to expand resources to these developing countries for these problems to work themselves out. However, I am curious about the conspiracy theories because as we look through history, developed countries often give aid to improve developing countries strategically. Countries that have benefits to particular rich developed countries tend to get more aid compared to other less “beneficial” countries. Could this be due to the idea of ensuring that the inequalities are maintained and reinforced and globalization subsequent aid in this process?

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