Globalization in Africa
Old Globalization Versus New Globalization
There is little agreement on whether globalization is new or old. Some observers contend that the unfolding global order is entirely new. Others claim that it is not fundamentally different from the order that prevailed in the nineteenth century roughly between 1840 and 1914 under the political and economic hegemony of Great Britain. In any case, globalization has emerged since the closing decades of the twentieth century after an interlude of roughly seventy-five years that were characterized by the episodes of the welfare state system and socialism, two social systems characterized by the relative ascendancy of working-class influence in global politics and the absence of a hegemonic power and a hegemonic ideology.
Old globalization incorporated countries outside of western Europe and North America largely through imperialism and often through direct colonialism. The rise of powers that were able to challenge British hegemony by the end of the nineteenth century culminated in World War I and brought old globalization to an end.
Like old globalization, new globalization is projected by a new political and economic hegemony and the ascendancy in the power of capital relative to other social classes. Views on the nature of the new hegemony vary widely. One view is that the United States sets the rules of the new global order and represents the new hegemonic power. Another view is that the new hegemony is a collective hegemony dominated by the advanced countries led by the United States, which has largely co-opted lesser powers. A third view contends that the new hegemony is composed of a decentralized transnational political elite. Despite these differences, there is a consensus that a hegemonic political, economic, and ideological order has emerged in the post–Cold War global system.
Unlike old globalization, new globalization has unfolded without direct colonialism. Instead it utilizes institutional arrangements and policy instruments as globalizing mechanisms. In the African context, as in many other developing countries, these mechanisms include retrenchment of state involvement in economic activity and institutional changes, such as privatization, and liberalization of trade and capital mobility. These policies are encapsulated in the package of reforms known as structural adjustment programs.
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