Race, Poverty & Globalization Essay

This essay has a total of 3407 words and 16 pages.

Race, Poverty & Globalization

Race, Poverty & Globalization


How is poverty related to globalism, and why are people of color under the most severe
threat from this process? Certainly, other people are also under a threat from this
globalization process, and some would assert that democracy and capitalism itself may be
undone by this process if it is not checked. To answer the above question and to
understand why minorities and other marginal populations are most at risk, it is first
necessary to better understand what globalism is, particularly the type of globalism that
dominates today's markets.

In the most general sense, globalism refers to "the process in which goods and services,
including capital, move more freely within and among nations" (Greider 1997:32). As
globalism advances, national boundaries become more and more porous, and to some extent,
less and less relevant. Since many of our early industries, such as steel, were
location-sensitive, there was a natural limitation to globalization. To be sure, some
things remain location-sensitive, but mobility is the trend (Norwood 1999). It is assumed
that liberalizing laws and structures, so that goods and services can become more globally
focused, will produce more wealth, and indeed this seems to be true. Using this general
understanding of globalism and globalization, it would be accurate to say this process has
been developing and growing for well over a hundred years (Fishlow 1999:5).


Data Collection
After searching Florida State University's (FSUs) Online Archives, I came across a
reference manual that I believed would help me to compile and analyze my sociological
research. I used the work of Otto Newman and Richard de Zoysa (2001), The Promise of the
Third Way: Globalization and Social Justice, as a conceptual framework for data
collection. Adhering to the advice of Newman and Zoysa, the following types of data were
collected in order to "maximize time and to see the same scene from different angles"
(2001: 115):

Documents and Literature
After further searching FSUs Online Archives, I selected several books, four journal
articles and an in-depth study in order to begin my literature research. I read pertinent
chapters and excerpts from the books and reviewed the journals and the study. Below is a
list of the literature I used:

Greider, William. 1997. One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Newman, Otto and de Zoysa, Richard. The Promise of the Third Way: Globalization and Social
Justice. 2001. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Singh, Kavaljit. 1999. The Globalization of Finance: A Citizen's Guide. London & New York: Zed Books.
Fishlow, Albert. "Review: Globalism: New Reality, Old Strategy." July 1999. American Journal of Sociology 2: 2.
Kasarda, John D. Oct. 1998. "The Threat of Globalism." Race and Class. 40: 2-3.
New York: Touchstone.
Norwood, Janet L. July/August 1999."Global Finance in the Americas: Wealth & Hunger
Revisited." NACLA Report on the Americas. 33:1.
Yutzis, Mario J. "A Special Issue on Globalization and Discrimination." 1998. Peoples for
Human Rights, IMADR Yearbook. 6.

United Nations Development Programme. "Human Development Report." 1999. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Using a semi-structured interview format, I interviewed three individuals, Mary, Robert
and Phil,* all of whom were able to share unique perspectives on how race and poverty have
been affected and/or shaped by globalism and the social justice movement. Mary, a
sociology major who is now in the process of getting her Doctorate, is doing her doctorial
thesis on globalism and its effect on third world countries. Robert is a college-level
professor who teaches a class that explores the correlation between race and poverty in
the U.S. Phil is a published author that has written several essays on globalization,
poverty and woman's suffrage. In the interviews, I was seeking to understand what
globalism meant to the different interviewees. I also sought to understand how these very
different perspectives fit into public opinion about race and poverty as a whole.

Data Analysis
Relying on the work of Newman et al. (2001), data analysis was an ongoing part of the data
collection. At regular weekly intervals, I would go over my observations, how these
observations related to the research question, what questions I was formulating from the
data, and what new directions I needed to pursue. Every week, I compiled my preliminary
and developing understandings and sought triangulation of data from all sources. For
example, I would review the data collected from the literature, my own observations, and
the interviews that I had conducted.

At the end of the data collection and ongoing data analysis period, I again followed the
advice of Newman et al. and "maximized time" (2001:157) by providing two other students,
both of whom are sociology majors, but neither of whom were assigned this project, with my
field notes and transcripts. In one three-hour sitting, my two volunteers and myself
compiled all data, including my individual and collective notes. I then re-read the entire
corpus of the data, starting with the interviews. Keeping my initial question in mind, the
three of us made notes of patterns, trends, and interesting cases. At the end of three
hours, I was able to formulate my final question used in this research paper.

In the two weeks leading up to the submission of this report, I began the process of
consolidating my assertions into those that would best answer my research question. All
subsequent time was spent warranting my assertions and writing the final report. All
assertions were modified to account for both the confirming and disconfirming evidence.


My initial question—How is poverty related to globalism, and why are people of color
under the most severe threat from this process?—can be divided into four sub-themes, all
of which are discussed here, in the Findings section of this report. These sub-themes are:

1) Division of Color, Division of Power. As globalism grows, the division of power
seemingly grows with it. This power, in turn, is creating an even further division in the
labor force with people of color being virtually forced into jobs as slave laborers; 2)
The U.S. as a Global Superpower. The U.S. has emerged as the world's only super power and
thus has a tremendous influence in setting the terms for global trade. The style of
globalism pushed by the United States has favored the free movement and protection of
capital, while being at best indifferent and at worst hostile to the more place-dependent
labor; 3) Democracy on the Demise. With the spread of globalism, there seems to be a
constant demise of democracy. We speak of an expanding global market, but a diminishing
public space, and we hardly speak at all of citizen participation and justice. There are
no organizations to protect the interests of workers, racial minorities, the environment,
or women and children; 4) Undermining Social Movements. Globalism is effectively
undermining the social justice movement and the very people of color that this movement is
seeking to defend.

Division of Color, Division of Power
Today, the world economy is in a state of what is commonly viewed as unprecedented growth.
But with this growth has come dangerous and destructive economic disparity. On the one
hand, we see the "impressive" economy in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in the
United States, where Silicon Valley, a region of 2.3 million people, has produced tens of
thousands of millionaires, with 64 new ones every day (Singh 1999). There are regular U.S.
reports of historically low unemployment rates, labor shortages and booming economy. On
the other hand, many people of color, particularly those in the Southern Hemisphere, do
not have enough food to eat, resulting in malnutrition and disease. They face growing
inflation while their governments, which used to subsidize some aspects of their marginal
living, are urged to stop subsidies for food and adopt a more market-oriented economics
(Kasarda 1998). Many workers in these economies are trapped in poor working conditions
with low pay. Women are often expected to do back-breaking farm and domestic work, with
few rights or benefits. Yet many of the fiscal policies pushed onto developing countries
and adopted in northern countries exacerbate the problem of the most marginal while
celebrating the wealth of the rich (Kasarda 1998).

In the North as well, people of color often find themselves being left farther and farther
behind. Even as states in the U.S. and the nation as a whole report budget surpluses, we
seem unable or unwilling to provide adequate housing for the growing number of
working-class and homeless families, to repair the physical structure of schools that
house low-income students of color, or to provide social services or medical attention for
those most in need (Yutzis 1998).

Sweatshops that employ people of color working as virtual slave laborers are
tolerated—even encouraged—as part of the new world trade. The public space people of
color and marginal groups are most dependent on—whether it is public hospitals, schools,
parks, or a social welfare—is constantly attacked as inconsistent with the needs of
capital and the market. Indeed, we are encouraged to remake public space to mimic private
space with a market, anti-democratic orientation where we are consumers, not citizens
(Norwood 1999).

The U.S. as a Global Superpower
There have been many changes in the globalization process in the last two decades that
makes it distinct from earlier incarnations. The major thing being traded in today's
global market is information and capital itself, rather than commodities or other

The United States has emerged as the only world superpower. This has allowed the U.S.
tremendous influence in setting the terms for global trade (Singh 1999). The style of
globalism pushed by the United States has favored the free movement and protection of
capital, while being at best indifferent and at worst hostile to the more place-dependent
labor. It is the dual relationship of mobile capital and fixed, unorganized and
unprotected labor that has created the conditions for capital to dominate (Kasarda 1998).
This has been greatly enhanced by the U.S. position toward organized labor and capital.
While the U.S. has been aggressive in protecting capital both at home and abroad, it has
encouraged both the weakening of organized labor and removing protections for workers.
While both Japan and Europe have aggressively pushed for globalism, each has been more
willing to protect labor, the environment and certain markets—at least within their own
borders (Human Development Report 1999).
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