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Smart Library on Globalization > Smart Library on Law and Globalization > What Is Globalization? > Overview: What Is Globalized and What Supports Globalization?
The Globalization of Culture Involves Risk and Misfortune
The process of globalization involves the globalization of risks. Globalization of risk, misfortune and opportunity carries important implications for the globalization of law.
Globalization of Risk and Misfortune
Legal scholar Lawrence Friedman says that the globalization of risk and misfortune—the internationalization of problems—is an important component in the process of globalizing culture and law.
Friedman notes that while processes that give rise to global problems may have their origin in local events, they may still have global implications. He offers some examples of local problems that become global problems:
While transnational risks are nothing new, there are more global risks today than ever.
Global problems, however, demand global solutions. But, there is no clear, consistent way to control, monitor and discipline sovereign nations that are the sources of the problems. This limitation to providing global solutions to global problems calls for hard and enforceable law that covers all nations. But, where would this come from, and how?
Global Risks of Free Trade
The globalization of free trade, may bring many benefits, but it also gives rise to global problems.
Free trade is an institution that presupposes customs, norms, and structures. While this institution may, according to orthodox economics, make everyone better off, Friedman notes that free trade may “do very little to help countries without the means to compete in a free market.” It is not just developing nations who feel the negative effects of free trade. Free trade also threatens to erode wages and protection for workers in the developed countries
Does free trade prop up democracy and good government because they produce stability as well as wealth? Not necessarily.
Friedman concludes that the “arguments for free trade are politically and economically powerful—almost beyond challenge.” However, the benefits of free trade do not come without a price. Poorer nations may be exploited or fail to see the financial benefits of a globalized economy. Rich nations may find themselves with higher rates of unemployment and a fear that their “Western” culture is being diluted.
What threatens these cultures—rich and poor—is, in fact, cultural convergence. The problem with the globalization of culture is not simply that the rest of the world becomes like the “West.” Rather, the challenge is that cultures as different as “East” and “West” are converging on something more global and different from anything previously experienced.
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Friedman, Lawrence M. 2001. “Erewhon: The Coming Global Legal Order.” Stanford Journal of International Law 37:347-64.
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