Globalization can be defined as the spatial expansion of social relations and the rise the imaginary globe. Earlier inventions and innovations like steam engines, supercomputers, internal combustion engine indeed portray that globalization is a phenomenon with deep historical roots. However, the above inventions came as a result of earlier technological innovations such as the; windmills, water wheels, print press, gunpowder just to mention a few. It’s interesting to note further that to be in a position to explain this invention we further need to critically examine even earlier technological achievements like human evolution and development of language. Globalization can be seen to sequential that follows chronologically. The aim of this paper will be to unveil the history of globalization by use of theories and ideas to establish if it’s a new phenomenon and also compare theories and concepts to the readings by Allen and Mintz and Sakamoto.
We begin by looking at the prehistoric period from (10000BCE -3500BCE). It’s believed that a small group of hunters and gatherers reached South America. This marked the end of the tedious and long process begun by African ancestors to settle the five continents a million years ago. This helped in the global dispersion of the human species. During this period, hunters and gatherers spread all over the five continents. However, the major event began when humans started producing their food. This was brought about by the existence of naturally occurring animals and plants that could be domesticated and also the continental disparities in the population size and geographical area (Steger 24). This two factors eased agricultural settlement in the fertile regions of China, New Guinea, Northwestern India and North Africa. Further, wandering nomads met themselves in settled tribes ruled by chiefs and priests hence replacing the decentralized system of the hunters with a more centralized system. Other than food production, this system supported two classes of people who crafted specialist and invented technologies like pottery and basketry, iron tools, ornaments made of precious metal among others. This, therefore, could earn the name “The Great Divergence”.
Secondly, we have the Pre-modern period between (3500BCE-1500CE). This period was characterized by the invention of writing in Egypt, central China and in Mesopotamia. This ran concurrently with the discovery of the wheel in Southwest Asia. The above inventions strengthened globalizations. The wheel, for instance, spurred major infrastructural innovation like the animal carts and construction of permanent roads that eased movement of people and goods. Writing, on the other hand, helped in coordinating social activities hence leading to the formation of large state and empires (Steger 26). Examples of this empires include; Roman Empire, Persian Empire, Empire of Ghana and Mali among others. However, the most influential empire of this premier period was the china empire which was marked by inventions like, natural gas, redesigned plowshares, printing, the compass, paper, metal clocks, gunpowder, silk fabrics just to mention a few. During this major trade routes like Silk Road were created to link the Chinese to the Roman Empire hence facilitating trading. The end of this era was marked by major global trade networks that connected significant trade regions hence enabling cultural and economic exchanges that triggered massive migration. Migration, in turn, led to the increase in population hence the creation of urban centers.
The early modern period 1500-1750 is the third period between the European Renaissance and enlightenment. It was marked by the rise of European metropolitan centers by use of inventions liked mechanized printing, windmills, postal systems, revised marine technologies among others. The important aspect that strengthened globalization was the embodying of new values of unrestricted wealth accumulation and individualism (Steger 28). This hence explained the capitalist system. There was also revision and modification of political and military alliances which brought out warfare as a vital spur of globalization.
The forth is the modern period (1750-1980s). This period was marked by incorporation of science and technology. The industrial regimes created in the subsequent period required new power sources like electricity and petroleum. Also, there was the establishment of global infrastructure in both rail and water transport. This was complemented by development in communication technology. This era was also characterized by a population explosion leading to immigration between different countries leading to new surveillance techniques (Steger 29). It is also the period marked by political alliances and formation of labor parties and political programs.
Lastly is the contemporary period from the 1980s.In an attempt to create an integrated global market, this period was characterized by deregulation of national economies through combining ICT in every aspect of the business (Steger 30). This has seen major interactive communication networks like the internet, digital media, wireless communication and online social marketing tools.
Comparing Steger and Mintz theories and concept reveals some differences. Unlike Steger who discusses the history of globalization defined by five periods, Sidney Mintz demonstrates the role played by the Caribbean region to fuel in industrial revolution which is an aspect of globalization. According to Mintz, the large population African slaves in the Caribbean working in the sugar plantation, together with modern capitalism fueled the industrial revolution. Another notable difference is that while Steger theory is keen on exploring globalization in all aspect, Mintz studies only explain cultural globalization by looking at the culture of the Africans in the Caribbean (Mintz 405)
Allen and Sakamoto’s studies differ from Steger’s. In their studies, they examine the evolving Japanese culture and where it lies in its engagement with globalization. Further, it explains the essential interactions between flow of this culture and the constant development of globalization (Allen 12). Therefore, Allen & Sakamoto link globalization to the Japanese culture while Steger relates globalization to past events.
In conclusion, it’s important to note that globalization is a chronological process that dates back to the history of evolution. Steger has explained the phases of globalizations by looking at different time periods. Also, Allen & Sakamoto and Mintz studies are also crucial in trying to understand the history of globalization .in the light of this we can conclude that globalization is not a new phenomenon and has been the major drive to different economies.
Steger, Manfred B. “Ideologies of globalization.” Journal of Political Ideologies 10.1 (2005): p.11-30.
Mintz, Jack M. “Globalization of the corporate income tax: the role of allocation.” FinanzArchiv/Public Finance Analysis(1999): p.389-423.
Allen, Matthew, et al. “Geoff Watson.” New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 13.2 (2011).