Monday, 1 October 2012

Final Essay: The Physical Flows of Globalisation.

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Globalisation and its flows; physical, cultural, media, capital and information intertwine and cannot be clearly categorised separate from each other. This item will be primarily discussing physical flows; however it would be impossible not to mention the other four flows involved that would impact the physical ones.

The physical movement of people and goods has proved beneficial for countries and continents that can share resources and minerals with each other (oil, fuel and many more). The convergence of technology and faster communication over long distances enables the knowledge of such trades to exist, let alone transactions being able to take place with mutual trust.

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Tourism and the physical flow of travellers impact both countries of origin and the host country. The need for tracking and documenting cross country travellers (by use of passport checks) determines their country of origin and citizenship, as well as important information on the individual (name, date of birth). Positive effects of tourism include economic help, and a negative effect would be pollution and inconsiderate behaviour from the tourists. Differing governments worldwide accepting passports could be considered crucial and significant in globalisation; multiple, imagined ‘cultures’ converging to accept the passport data.

Immigration, both legal and illegal, are also forms of physical flow regarding globalisation. Since the world is becoming more informed, more people start to prefer other countries to their own, in terms of economic standing, cultural, political, risk of persecution or other reasons involved. Sun (2002, p.115) best phrases this in the following.

Much has been written about how electronic media have transformed our understanding of temporality, spatiality, and a sense of who we are as individuals.
-Sun, 2002, p.115
The new sense of other countries and individuals’ understanding can contribute to migration from one country to another. Ideas of culture are not necessarily fixed, and are not necessarily defined by borders. The immigrated individuals unconsciously bring their local sense of culture with them. 

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The result of such movement to countries such as Australia is the diverse range of cultural representatives in the community. The phrase ‘hybridised cultural formations’ by Moore (2012) refers to immigrants who, by moving to a place such as Australia, bring their own culture from their own homeland and marries it with the new ideas of culture in the new country. Sometimes this can be quite literal with regard to offspring; immigrants can meet and marry into other cultures, resulting in bilateral children. These cultures, some of them conflicting in values and morals, can leave the children feeling confused about their sense of belonging. On the other hand, they have a variety of choice as to which culture they can choose, if they wish.

Australia is a particularly special case in that cultures are able to integrate and represent the population, whether they are of Australian origin or not. An individual is able to go to places such as Lygon Street in Melbourne, which has become commonly known to cater food of a variety of cultures for people to choose from. There is less restriction on choice of nationality, one can even recall an Ethiopian restaurant/grocery store in Adelaide.

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Transnational television, as discussed by Naficy (2003, p.52) is imported media from homelands. Television provided by the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) channel includes news and other various programs from many different countries in their respective languages. This is helpful for the diasporic communities as they can keep an eye on their own homelands in their own language if they desire. Also provided in multiple languages are radio channels and newspapers. Foxtel in Australia, in particular, are well known for catering channels in certain languages on request. 

These avenues of media and technology enable the diasporic communities to maintain a (admittedly distant) relationship with their homelands. However, El-Nawawy (2003, p.52), in discussing ‘Western-raised’ Arabs brings up a valid point. Some diasporic individuals may have grown up not knowing the language, or have immersed themselves so greatly in the new country. These specific cases perhaps feel more inclined to take the word of the local news; it’s certainly easier accessed and placed foremost in programming.

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Keeping these availabilities in mind, a possible issue could be equal representation of all these communities. How can the variety (or sometimes lack of variety) truly represent the diasporic communities? There are multiple mediums available from the likes of Europe and Asia, and yet not as many from continents like Africa and South America. Being faithful to the population and representing each culture and their language equally is almost impossible because of the digital divide.

The phrase ‘global village’ was the hope when the World Wide Web came to fruition and people all over the globe could communicate to form a mass of organised ideas that could be shared. Nederveen Pieterse (2004, p.9) states that the technological advances made have contributed to globalisation. Distance had presumably been overcome. 

But there is still the issue of remote, young countries who do not have access to the same technology. Nederveen Pieterse (2004, p.13) also puts forward the idea that globalisation does not refer to an equal playing field, or equal international relations. Nederveen Pieterse also identifies and names a formed ‘Triad’ of the continents able to make the most of ‘contemporary globalisation’; North America, Europe, and East Asia. Since Australia was colonised by England and allied with some of the Triad during the wars, Australia could be included to a lesser extent. Australia is not as accessible to transport people and goods to, as opposed to continents like Europe; its countries and borders close together.

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In the case of illegal immigrants, travelling by boat is the most discrete and affordable way to leave the country. In some cases, travelling by boat is probably the only way. This is said considering each possibility; immigrants are possibly fleeing from persecution and/or execution, most likely with their families. However, Morrison (2003, p.474) discusses human trafficking and smuggling being labelled as an element of organised crime and the phrase ‘transnational crime’ (2003, p.475) is utilised in the text. Morrison goes on to explain the distinction eventually made between the words ‘trafficking’ and ‘smuggling’, the meaning of the latter is the applicable one here.

Trafficking involves exploitation that goes on after arrival in the country of destination, such as bonded labour or prison... ‘smuggling’ meaning an assisted illegal border crossing with no ongoing exploitation.
Morrison, 2003, p.476

There does appear to be a pattern involving current illegal immigration. Current countries involved such as Sri Lanka appear to be outside of the Triad of contemporary globalisation. Meaning they have a disadvantage of being accepted into Australia, unlike a legal immigrant from England; presumably able to obtain the appropriate paperwork to secure a visa and have the money for a flight.

El-Nawawy, M. 2003, ‘The battle for the Arab mind’, Al-Jazeera, the story of the network that is rattling governments and redefining modern journalism 2003, Westview Press, Boulder CO, pp. 45-69, 217-218
Morrison, J 2003, ‘“The dark side of globalisation”: the criminalisation of refugees’, in R Robertson & KE White (eds), Globalization: critical concepts in sociology, Routledge, London, pp. 474–7.
Nederveen Pieterse, J 2004, ‘Globalization: consensus and controversies’, Globalization and culture: global mélange, Rowan & Littlefield, Lanham, Md., pp. 7–21.
Naficy, H 2003, ‘Narrowcasting in diaspora: Middle Eastern television in Los Angeles’, in KH Karim (ed.), The media of diaspora, Routledge, London, pp. 51–62.
Sun, W 2002, ‘Fantasizing the homeland, the internet, memory and exilic longings’, Leaving China: media, migration, and transnational imagination, Rowan & Littlefield, Lanham, Md., pp. 113–36.