Rusteikienė J. (2008) Urban globalization: political, economical and socio-cultural changes. Global Academic Society Journal: Social Science Insight, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 35-45. ISSN 2029-0365
Jūratė Rusteikienė, Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania
The paper analyses globalization as a phenomenon, which affects all spheres of life including urban development and expansion. It gives theoretical overview on urban development issues in the context of globalization and regionalization and presumable global changes in the context of competition of European cities. The aim of the paper is to analyse aspects of urban globalization in the context of political, economical and socio-cultural changes. The paper gives insight on impact of globalization on political changes, bringing great attention to shifting power from nation states to city governments. Issues of economic development of cities in the context of globalization, including creative competitiveness of cities, are revealed in the paper as well. Cultural, social and other spheres of life are also integral part of urban development. The paper considers both: positive and negative aspects of globalization concerning the urban development.
With development of technologies and increase of human mobility, impact of globalization becomes more and more appreciable. According to Grigas (2002), the essential feature of modern civilization is increasingly speeding globalization of mankind: universal modernization of living conditions, spread of modern technologies and consumption as well as approximation of nations and states. Thus, phenomenon of globalization conditions changes in political, economical, cultural, social and other spheres. Therefore, term “globalization” became popular in all spheres, including urban development. The aim of the paper is to analyse aspects of urban globalization in the context of political, economical, socio-cultural changes. Thus, this paper explores how globalization determines political, economical, socio-cultural changes and how it influences urban development and expansion. Globalization is an aggregate of unpredictable processes. Therefore, it is difficult to control; it unlocks new forms of risk that affect all of us (Giddens, 2005). Frequently, globalization is defined as opportunity to diminish or eliminate differences between the international and national, the global and local. Effects of globalization might be proved by economic parameters: multinational corporations, global trade, workforce and academic mobility, openness of financial markets, mass media and electronic communications, internationalization of corporate strategies, global consumption models, weakening power of national governments. Besides, globalization becomes important dimension of education and science and their policies, striving to adjust systems of education and science for competitive growth and transfer of knowledge (Glosienė, 2007). Globalization suggests that we increasingly live in “one world“, thus strengthening interdependency among the individuals their groups and nations (Giddens, 2005). Globalization means that new types of interactions emerge: economic relationship between transnational companies and national ones, intergovernmental relationship, relationship between transnational organizations (Matakas and Setkauskis, 2004). The major dynamics of the globalization are rapid evolution of technologies and their pervasion, which opens the gateway for unrestricted sally of capital and financial transactions in all directions (Krikštopaitis, 2002). Although economic forces are integral part of globalization, assumption that only they cause this phenomenon would be fallacious. Globalization is built on various political, social, cultural and economical factors (Giddens, 2005). Thus, globalization is considered as a complex phenomenon of evolution of social life, which encompass not only economical, but also political, technological, cultural, military, ecologic and other spheres (Juščius, 2007). In the era of globalization, it becomes increasingly difficult draw the line separating local, national and international spheres of policy, as well as distinguishing economics (Matakas and Setkauskis, 2004). According to Giddens (2005), globalization is conditioned by advance of technology and infrastructure. Globalization is also moved forward by integration of global economy. Globalization is a form of progress of modern economy, and because of this, it is uncontrollable. Participation in globalization process ensures development of trade, spread of technologies and innovations, provides opportunities to expand markets and to participate in exchange of knowledge and experience; in short, it allows expanding and developing production and increasing welfare (Čičinskas , 2002). Despite this, Giddens (2005) maintains that globalization creates threats, inequalities and challenges, which cross the state boarders and this way slip out of the control of current political structures. Hence separate governments do not have measures for overcoming these transnational problems, there is a need for new global forms of management, which would facilitate universal solutions of the global problems.
Urban development in the context of globalization and regionalization
In line with the globalization, regionalization process, which might seem opposite to globalization, takes place. Rise of regionalism in global economy shows diminishing role of traditional national state, i.e. increasingly important role is attributed to the cities. Mutually interrelated processes of diminishing influence of national state and rise of regionalism correspond to changes in political and social economic perspective, moving from national to regional scale. Regions (cities) ensure potential of active strategic development at local level. They strive to occupy their niche in the global economy, develop their strategies, organize and mobilize themselves and finally create their future based on high technologies (Bagdzevičienė and Vasiliauskaitė, 2004). Globalization is so important that it has touched nearly all significant cities, thus causing international division of labour and other processes in the field of production and social regulation. The result of these processes is emergence of so called “global cities” (Šaparauskas, 2004). It can be stated that in the age of globalization, cities possess and manage infrastructure, including physical, communicational, production and human factors necessary for promotion of innovations, manufacturing and training (Bagdzevičienė and Vasiliauskaitė, 2004). However, as every social process, globalization is not only positive but also negative phenomenon. It manifests in indisputable hazards in respect of nature, traditional human culture, its diversity and especially of culture’s spiritual component, including traditional values that raised European civilization (Grigas, 2002). Future of the cities is highly dependent on their capabilities to realize global trends and to react to them appropriately (Piliutytė, 2007). Piliutytė (2005) defines four most probable global changes in the context of competition of European cities (see Figure 1).
Globalization as a phenomenon, which affects all spheres of life, including urban development and expansion, is an important factor that should be considered within urban strategic plans.
Impact of globalization on political changes
Trends of globalization influence all governments and their policies in the world. Functions and role of nation states and their institutions are diminishing. Government have not measures to regulate economics anymore, because it has not enough financial and mobility power to compete with large companies. Globalization restricts state’s independence and implementation of foreign policy goals, however as a counterbalance, it provides new opportunities. Technological advance, which is applied in the market and spurred by it, provides more opportunities for citizens of the countries participating in global economy to benefit from the global diversity and results of economic growth (Vareikis, 2003). As processes of globalization become more evident, cities become most dynamic centres of global level economic transformation. In the world of competition, where capital and professionals are free and unrestricted, cities begin actively applying entrepreneurial and internationally-oriented policy in order to strengthen their competitiveness that leads to emergence of competitive cities and creation of new mode for urban government. New geography of Europe, which ignores national boundaries, emerges. Global changes of recent years prompt development of open and decentralized societies, thus giving new meaning to the localities, territories and cities. These new challenges force localities to create new development strategies in the context of constantly increasing complexity, openness, competitiveness, uncertainty and rapid changes and determine establishment of new approach to the extent of state management. In the era of globalization, role and functional structure of national government changes in many spheres. Global economy strengthens role of the local level, i.e. cities become centres of global control. Forces of globalization stimulate versatile social – spatial transformation and shift of space and state dimension, in which reorganization of state and society is displayed. While role of state diminishes, role and power of local (of a region or a city) government strengthen (Piliutytė, 2007). Frequently, in conditions of globalization strong national bodies become more powerful and frail ones become even weaker (Guogis, 2004). While nation state transmits a fair share of its power to local and regional level, i.e. cities, it strives to gain maximum benefit from globalization at levels, where expression of globalization processes are the most active. Cities become centre of territorization in spread of flows. Thus, an activity is totally territorized when its economic power is embedded in values (habits and relationships), which may not be obtained in any other place and which cannot be easily created or imitated in localities which lack these values. In western countries, local authorities became major participants of urban restructurization, which stimulated transformation from welfare state to economic development state (Piliutytė, 2007). Thus, under the influence of globalization, cities’ governments become stronger and the cities increasingly become attraction centres, which strive to maximize benefit gained from globalization at levels, where expression of globalization processes is the most active.
Impact of globalization on economic development
Economic globalization manifests itself as internationalization of production and expansion of global industries, related to rapid installation of new production and information technologies. Globalization is characterized by continuous growth of international manufacturing, volumes of products and services, and organization of management, which cross borders of countries and join diverse corners of the world into one network. These processes were accelerated by new conditions of global trade, which were strengthened by international agreements, as well as various economic reforms (Vareikis, 2003). It is noticed that globalization does not conflict with prosperity of cities. Striving to maintain critical strategic advantage in global competition, cities should have their profile, be attractive to citizens, businesses and visitors. For this, an “injection” of creativity is necessary. Glosienė (2007) distinguishes several types of city creativity (see Figure 2).
Processes of globalization and European integration, internationalization of private sector and other related phenomena stimulate local government institutions to alter their position, and to implement innovative and unconventional activity methods and strategies (Piliutytė, 2005). Features of transnationality become increasingly evident in activities of cities. Globalization and European integration force cities to observe opportunities and threats of the created common market watchfully. They compete for mobile capital, labour force, institutions and events. Not only business organizations, but also countries, regions and cities must be competitive to survive in modern global market and “modern competition“, which is formed by information and knowledge economy. Nevertheless, competition of cities differs from that of business companies. Cities compete in order to increase their attractiveness to potential target markets (mobiles investments, tourism, large events, and specialized human resources), modern infrastructure, high technologies, innovative activities and systems. Cities also compete in order to improve quality of life and standards of environmental conditions. City’s success in a global competition is a rather relative concept. Territorial systems, which in the context of international competition are capable of benefitting from objective development conditions better than other systems, are considered successful. In other words, successful subjects are the ones, which develop superiorly than their “neighbours“, i.e. contiguous cities, municipalities or farther cities having similar natural or historic resources (Piliutytė, 2007). Today modern technologies give people opportunities to reach the most distant countries quicker, easier and cheaper. Therefore, world’s modern community may be named a “global village”, where all the villagers instantly hear of a new event. This “shortening” of distances makes huge influence on interrelationships of states and development of economy (Vareikis, 2003).
Technological It is evident that in future together with the strengthening globalization, economic competition among European cities will increase; respectively, efficient urban management will become more topical. More and more methods from business sphere will be applied for urban management in order to ensure sustainability of activities of such “urbanistic enterprise“. International competition creates such environment for city’s existence, which cannot manage without implementation of typical actions of marketing concepts (Piliutytė, 2005). Besides, Vareikis (2003) maintains that globalization, just as every other phenomenon has both: positive and negative sides. However, an appropriate use of opportunities provided by technological advance and rising connections between countries may build a firm foundation for countries’ economical development. In any case, it is meaningless to deny the impact of globalization, and economically disadvantageous to try to protect from it.
Effects of globalization that display in socio-cultural spheres of life
Despite the evidently positive results of globalization, one cannot notice rather big problems that came in line with this process. Globalization is a process, which is built on technology, economy and communication; however, it is not related to either higher values or morality. Therefore, it is no wonder that in all countries touched by globalization, actions that are absolutely opposite to the declared ones, take place. These are corruption, frauds, thefts, exploitation and violation of human rights. For maximum objectivity, it should be mentioned that globalization declares high values, such as freedom, tolerance, equality, etc. Problems emerging in the globalized world concern mostly the society and individuals as well as exclusiveness of cultures rather than economic or politic aspects. Ongoing processes affect people’s everyday life more than they notice it. Inhabitants of the globalizing world feel decline of boundaries and national borders. Due to the fact that people are enforced to accept only one (cosmopolitan) identity and no freedom of choice, national conflicts emerge. However, although currently one may notice weakening of nation state, it is not yet completely faded out since its citizens still keep their own historical and cultural identities, and legal state borders protect activities of civic society. Essential feature of identity of each nation and a single city is its culture. If a nation or city dwellers integrate into another culture, they lose their identity and disappear over time. Culture of a modern nation is not a closed system – it is influenced by others; at the same time it in turn influences other cultures as well. This way the nation assimilates new values, which supplement national identity. Nevertheless, the major values are created by the nation itself. The nation constantly struggle for preserving its national heritage, authentic culture, language, customs and traditions (Vareikis, 2003). Globalization promotes multiculturality, which in turn prompts development of cultural industry, and the latter begin to produce urbanized social and cultural identities and lifestyles. Thus, the engine of globalization is consumption, which evolves in metropolitan environments. In the conditions of globalization, consumption and culture of consuming becomes urbanistic phenomenon. Major “consumption temples“ emerge in urban areas, consumer skills spread from the cities, urban population is provided with the major part of consumary goods. In metropolitan areas, cultural industries produce and provide to the global market new brands of sexualities (“masculinity”, “femininity”, “odd sexualities“), ethnicities, various social groups, fashions and lifestyles on which city-dwellers build their own identities. Movements of globalization prompt persistent growth of variety of urban lifestyles and urban identities as well as binding / unbinding by a particular dwelling-place. Thus these movements affect identity of the city as well: by producing variety of marketable identities, city reprocesses its urbanistic and social “material” (Rubavičius, 2005). For instant, since the nineteen-sixties Amsterdam feels increasing effects of globalization and adjusting to them, it “rearranged” its identity: its old town became more tourist-oriented district, which provides all kinds of services for sensual pleasures and experiences. Shortly, this city became renown by its tolerance to various expressions of sexuality and soft drugs. Therefore, in the conditions of globalization, tolerance as one of the fundamental features of culture and society was “merchandised”. This influenced urbanistic environment. Formerly, city’s commercial life whirled around the old town, where command posts of European and global economic branches established thus attracting the service businesses; however while city centre increasingly turns into miscellaneous commodity of tourism industry, its “serious” functions moved to the fast-growing suburbs. In the conditions of globalization, “merchandised” cities became localities of tourism industry, where large crowds of consumers. As a result, these localities became their own caricatures. This reasoned assessment of globalization trends should be realized as encouragement to consider support and re-design of urban identity or urban development plans with responsibility (Rubavičius, 2005). Community’s participation in shaping city architecture, especially in the context of globalization processes, remains notably significant. If cooperation between the community and government is inefficient and non-democratic, the government does not receive community’s opinion, which is necessary for proper decision-making. Sometimes community, due to its passivity does not know about the government’s decisions and their possible impact on quality of life of territorial community’s (Jakaitis, 2005). However, increasing global competition and threat of globalization brings new tasks for the cities: it forces them to search for new culture of sustainable development planning by implementing methods of strategic planning and involvement of the society (Bardauskienė, 2007). Since globalization enlarged gap between the rich and poor society members and regions, it is imperative to follow that technologic innovation would not become one more factor for increasing this gap (Bagdzevičienė and Vasiliauskaitė, 2004). Guogis (2004) agrees that globalization frequently has a positive impact on the “winner’s” social status giving to them better opportunities for self-realization, and often brings a negative impact on “loser’s” situation as they become “imprisoned” for longer or shorter time with no clear perspective for rise. Process of globalization transforms person’s traditional view towards the society and a human’s sex, social status, ethnical background, language and other significant feature, which, as Giddens (2000) indicates, used to be relatively constant. Globalization educates cosmopolitan mentality that is insensitive to historic and ethnic values (Krikštopaitis, 2002). Globalization processes shape a new type of human – immigrant, globalist, who fosters individualism, demonstrates reluctance to tie him/herself to societal norms and values. Individuality destroys national feeling of “us”, which has been built on the background of historically formed common culture, language, territory and economy. In such circumstances modern state loses its foundation, i.e. national identity. Apart from that, globalization has huge impact on the language, which is one of the central guarantees for preservation of national identity and essential element of national culture. In many countries, national language loses its importance, giving way to English as the single tongue for communication (Grigas, 2001). The same is valid for dialects, which are typical for. Therefore, considering the impact of globalization, care of city’s identity, which manifests itself through language (dialect), architecture, traditions and customs, should be taken.
Globalization as a phenomenon, which affects all spheres of life, including urban development and expansion, is an important factor that should be considered by city’s strategic planners. Globalization determines political, economical and socio-cultural changes, which in turn influence city development and expansion. Affected by globalization, city governments become stronger and the cities increasingly become attraction centres, which strive to maximize benefit gained from globalization at levels, where expression of globalization processes is the most active. Just like any other phenomena, globalization has both positive and negative sides. Firstly, it strengthens competition between the cities. However, an appropriate use of opportunities provided by technological advance and rising connections between countries may build a firm foundation for countries’ economical development. Globalization destroys city’s identity of culture and customs. Original cities frequently become “merchandised” and modernised. Cities lose their historical and, often, architectural and cultural peculiarities. Besides, under influence of globalization, disparities between the rich and the poor constantly increase. Despite of these negative features, globalization conditions some possitive results as well: it enables society to participate in the process of urban planning. Although globalization has positive and negative results, cities’ strategic planners should consider possible effects of globalization. Cities should take advantage of positive impact of globalization, meanwhile striving to avoid the negative influence and to maintain city’s identity and to preserve its culture, customs and architecture to as much extent as possible.
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