This essay will critically assess the ways in which social and economic inequalities are generated by global processes. It will show an understanding of sociological, anthropological and social policy debates about globalisation and critical appreciation of globalisation in the context of the historical development of capitalism. The essay will also demonstrate knowledge of a range of global processes, institutions and flows and their impact on people’s lives in various parts of the world and of how global processes, institutions and flows generate, or contribute to, marginalization and inequality.
Inequalities are the inconsistencies and differences between individuals, groups, societies and countries and have an enormous impact on people’s lives. They exist because of global processes and globalisation which impact on the delivery of welfare, a plan originally developed to level out inequalities within societies (Giddens 2009). One global process is migration, which is the movement of people across national borders through a variety of global and social processes which can affect or even increase social and economic inequalities (Giddens 2009).
This essay will discuss globalisation, global processes and then migration, providing case studies to aid arguments and opinions. It is important to see how globalisation affects welfare, not just for the poorer undeveloped countries, but also for the more developed richer countries. Giddens (2009) speaks of globalisation in terms of economic, political and cultural interconnectedness across the world but other elements of globalisation, such as the development of connections between various different places in the world, are discussed by Deacon (2007 p8).
This development provides routes for various flows which stem from the above elements of globalisation, including that of communication, production, people, capital and other commodities (Deacon 2007). Martell (2010 p2-4) highlights the importance of an interdisciplinary partnership between the above elements, particularly the economic and political dimensions and the social and cultural dimensions which are often considered and analysed in isolation.
He argues that these elements have a causal relationship where each can be dependent on another and gives an example that an individual can enjoy the cultural experience of watching television, due to the fact that he resides in a wealthy, democratic, developed country where access to such resources are readily available to a vast majority of its citizens showing that economic and political factors impact greatly on this cultural element (Martell 2010 p2).
Whilst Giddens (2009) states that globalisation is a concept that posits about the world’s growing dependency on inter-connectedness, other theories include those of the sceptics and globalisers (Schirato and Webb 2003). The sceptics argue that globalisation is simply a continuation of trends (Giddens 2009; Schiarto and Webb 2003) but this idea in itself causes discussion between critics as some suggest the trends began with European colonial expansion (Schiarto and Webb 2003) while others pinpoint the beginning of globalisation to the trend of migration (Martell 2010).
Sceptics also reject the view that globalisation reduces the role of the state, instead highlighting the fact that national governments are often the driving forces behind international trade and policies. They believe that the bulk of modern trade still exists between three main areas of Europe, Asia and North America as it did in the past. Therefore they contend that it is not genuine globalisation but just a continuation of growth of European colonial expansion from the late 1800s until the First World War (Giddens 2009; Schiarto and Webb 2003).
Divergently, hyperglobalisers believe that globalisation is a new phenomenon, creating a borderless world that reduces the power and autonomy of nation states (Mishra 1999) which has made the world a drastically different place today compared to the past (Giddens 2009). Alternatively there is the perspective of the transformationalist; they identify the significance of Globalisation behind a spectrum of changes shaping modern day societies but with the retention of traditional features including national governance (Giddens 2009).
However, they draw the same conclusion as globalisers in that globalisation is guilty of abating the boundaries between the international and the domestic. Two global processes that can be explicitly defined and argued as creating or sustaining social and economic inequalities are Capitalism and Neoliberalism. Edelman and Haugerud (2005) determine the link between Capitalism and social inequality, concluding that the rise of industrial capital was followed by swift urban poverty, unemployment and migration in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Capitalism is the private ownership of production which can sell products on the open market for a profit and sometimes capital moves across borders, especially when markets become saturated or the cost of labour and materials increase (Schirato and Webb 2003). In the nineteenth century Colonialism saw the Capitalised West lay claim to weaker nations involved in trade (Schirato and Webb 2003), demonstrating that Capitalism crosses boarders in search of financial gains but spreading social and economic inequality.
Karl Marx, best known as a revolutionary communist, viewed Capitalism as economic activity free from restrictions of politicians having grown throughout history. Marx believed that due to this there would be inevitable class conflicts through the exploitation of societies for cheap labour and the drive for profit. However described capitalism as profit from exchange and argued that it was a rational way to balance and separate general housekeeping and business (Giddens 2009). Neoliberalism is purportedly at the core of Capitalism (Harris 1999).
The global financial crises in the seventies were followed by Neoliberal governance emerging in favour of the nineteenth century policies of free markets (Harris 1999). Mishra (1999) states that with increasing Neoliberal influences, Western countries abandoned fixed rates and trade controls, opening up exits for capital suggestive of the Colonial period. Harris suggests that Neoliberalism deregulates business controls and lowers taxation rates for corporations and high earners to encourage global investment.
However these result in a low wage economy, a de-unionised labour market and decreased public spending resulting in less money for public assistance and growing social and economic inequalities (Harris 1999). Turner (2010) challenges the Neoliberals’ view of economic globalisation and abolishment of trade borders, following disruptions to economic trade around the world in 2008-2009. He rejects the decline of nation states analysing contemporary issues that have attributed to the decline of mobility in the population.
In modern times people move around the globe for many different reasons, however each of these can be attributed to globalisation in some form (Martell 2010). Martell discusses the push and pull factors for migration and the processes that lead to inequality. There are several different categories of migration, for example legal and illegal or forced and voluntary, all of which have a different permutation of issues and reasons behind their occurrence and are not necessarily exclusive from one another (Martell, 2010).
The difference between illegal and legal migration is decided by the government of the receiving country and political issues such as trade routes between different countries must be taken into account as these result in some countries borders being more or less rigorous than others (Martell 2010). For example, the border control can be quite relaxed when travelling within the European Union as a citizen of a European country but would become tighter for people travelling as citizens of Africa into Europe (Martell 2010).
This example shows an inequality which has the likelihood to further set apart developing third world countries from developed first world countries (Giddens 2009). Martell (2010) also compares forced and voluntary migration, stating that a majority of illegal migration that takes place is as a direct result of inequalities such as poverty or persecution within the country of origin. Migration due to these types of issues may also be deemed as forced migration as the person may have to flee to avoid real physical danger (Martell, 2010).
Conversely, voluntary migration may take place through emigration where a person from a moderately developed country moves to another developed country, for example the movement of British people to Australia (Ferguson et al, 2005). These differences in migration status show that there is a firm connection between the reasons for the movement of people around the world and inequalities such as class, affluence, resources and age. A person fleeing their country of origin due to conflict may have no choice but to move unlike a person retiring to a different country for the warmer climate.
Shatkin (2009) writes of the links between globalisation, push factors for migration and the increase social inequality in Metro Manila. Shatkin’s paper reveals confident links to marginalisation through urbanisation and addresses spatial change and the impact this has on people’s choice of where to live. He argues that whilst globalisation creates common changes across the world in terms of redevelopment through a consumer culture, the effects are not always positive and in the case of Metro Manila the impact has a negative effect on lower income residents.
Within his paper Shatkin acknowledges that other writers believe there is less of a gap between the rich and poor, creating new opportunities for young women, as a growth in manufacturing has seen less segregation within the cities, with the poor and rich residing more closely together (McGee 1991, cited in Shatkin 2009 pg 383). However Shatkin’s findings establish that urbanisation does displace lower income earners, thus creating inequalities. His reasoning for this is shown in the eography of housing as, whilst he agrees rich and poor are living alongside each other in cities he concludes that this is due to the locational relativity of housing and work. With only low paid jobs such as domestic work available in cities, poorer people who live in informal settlements, either government or privately owned, are effectively squatting as they are unable to afford the commuting costs from outer areas in order to work (Shatkin 2009).
Looking further into economic reasons for migration, Shatkin’s (2009) study in Metro Manila also aimed to look at the issues around the rapid urbanisation in developing countries including how low income families cope with spatial change. Within this study Shatkin (2009) found that some of the main issues faced were in fact age and gender inequalities within gaining employment and the flexibilisation of the labour force.
Although age and gender inequalities in gaining employment would appear at first to be a social issue, the roots run deeper to economic requirements of the government. Flexibilisation of the labour force means that employment becomes unstable and within the Philippines this process of low wages, short contracts and weakening the employment unions has been embraced to produce maximum capital at the lowest cost to both private and public sector companies (Shatkin, 2009).
The instability of employment in Metro Manila creates economic insecurity and Shatkin describes a cycle of unemployment and the trade-off between secure quality housing and the location of work places. He explains that the limitations to employment restrict the movement of people as they have little incentive to move closer to work when on a short term contract because it is not certain where the next contract may be located (Shatkin 2009). Shatkin (2009) also argues that coping strategies for those in Metro Manila can involve sending a relative abroad to work.
This leads to a dependency of the income from the migrant both for the family and for the country’s economic welfare and he addresses the social costs of a family member working abroad, most notably a female and the emotional toll this takes on the family. He found that in recent years an increasing level of Filipino workers have been sent to higher income countries such as Europe and America to provide domestic work. These domestic workers then send most of their wages to their families back at home. This provision is known as a remittance.
In 2002 it was estimated that these remittances totalled at around $7. 8 billion which at the time represented around 22% of all Philippine exports (Shatkin, 2009. pg. 386). This would indicate that the government deem the export of Filipino workers as goods to be traded and also supports the concept suggested by Kroger et al (2009) that foreign domestic workers are seen as a commodity. It also shows the mounting nature of trade and migration as well as highlighting the level of inequality that causes the export of a country’s own people.
There is an abundance of Filipina migrant workers in domestic positions in countries throughout the world today. The liberal individualists suggest that the overseas migration of these women workers is a result of personal decisions and actions facilitated by globalisation’s encouragement of labour mobility. However there are other factors in Filipinas’ migration to countries as far flung as the United States, Qatar, Canada, Malaysia, Italy, Singapore, and Taiwan (Rodriguez 2008).
Having personally come across the plight of migrant Filipino workers in Qatar it is shocking to note that not only are they paid less than minimum wage; they are usually subject to inappropriate living conditions. For example a utility room just big enough to fit in a single bed was home to a married couple working for an affluent British family. The female was employed as a domestic worker by the British family and was sponsored by them but her husband also had another job at the local supermarket and was sponsored by this employer.
The couple sent remittances back to their family and 3 children at home. The husband was then deemed to have done something wrong at the supermarket and the sponsorship was withdrawn resulting in him having to return to the Philippines as he was no longer a legal immigrant in that country. Interestingly, the Philippine state itself, acting as a labour broker, plays a critical role in producing, distributing and regulating Filipinas as care workers across the globe (Rodriguez 2008).
Anderson (2001) clarifies this situation in respect of Filipino migrant domestic workers, whereby workers that entered the country with wealthy employers were not passed through any form of passport control. Often it was the employer that held their passport. This being the case, should they wish to leave employment or were forced to run away due to abuse in poor employment conditions, they would be unable to work elsewhere and deemed an illegal immigrant. Constable (1997) also discusses the experiences of Filipina workers migrating to post-colonial Hong Kong due to the labour export policy that was enforced ithin the Philippines. The study used qualitative interviews with workers to reveal issues surrounding how those workers are perceived as a sexual threat by their female employers and some of Hong Kong society by extension. Constable also discusses the measures those employers take to try and control their employees by making them look less threatening and more neutral of gender (Constable 1997) through enforcing rules such as not wearing makeup or nail varnish, not wearing skirts, having short haircuts and being subjected to regular pregnancy tests (Constable 1997).
These are blatant examples of inequality and could concur with the original argument that one of the issues for those who migrate to work is that they begin to become a commodity but Constable argues that these findings of women working are not new and not restricted to Hong Kong society. The studies by both Shatkin (2009) and Constable (1997) show that migrating workers are put at a disadvantage by economic problems and social stigma and they also show that not every migrant worker experiences the same forms of inequality in the same way.
These findings can also be supported by Kroger et al (2009) who state that possible push factors for migration may be similar but each person’s experienced issues may be completely different. A number of studies have been especially focused on Filipina domestic workers and caregivers in different national context and these studies of domestic workers generally scrutinise the labour markets of labour-receiving states as well as employers’ constructions of domestic labour in an attempt to find reasons for the preference of Filipinas (Rodriguez 2008).
Although all of the research on Filipina migrants suggests important interventions in understanding changes in the global order and although these changes affect specific national contexts to explain the worldwide deployment of Filipina migrants, it still cannot effectively explain why there are so many migrants from the Philippines and why they are predominantly care or domestic workers.
The Philippines is not alone in its positioning as a bordering economy, many other economies occupy similar or worse locations in the global order yet they do not supply the world’s generative labour in the way that the Philippines does (Rodriguez 2008). Whilst researching the above, Rodriguez (2008) found that the Philippine state has come to rely more and more on the export of labour to cover the social, economic and political disruptions that have resulted from its loyalty to neoliberalism. He ostulated that the state takes advantage of labour demands produced by current processes of globalisation to place its citizens in overseas jobs through government agencies based in the Philippines, including the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) as well as in the Philippine embassies and consular offices around the world, for example the International Labour Affairs Service (ILAS). The duty of agencies like POEA and ILAS is not only to address but also to create worldwide demand for Philippine labour.
They generate statistical and qualitative data which deals with the temporary migration or contract employment of Filipino human resources around the globe (Casco 2000). Through this transnational state apparatus research is conducted to decide broad, global demands for Philippine labour. More focused research in other countries examines which specific industries are experiencing shortages of labour and/or whether those particular countries offer visa categories that would allow Philippine migrants to enter for employment.
There are actually officials specifically tasked to identify demand for different kinds of care workers and the POEA has skills desks for special job categories including domestic helpers, shipping, construction, entertainers and medical workers (Rodriguez 2008). Rodriguez concludes that export-oriented production and tourism within the Philippines are not enough to absorb the unemployment and lack of employers that are intensified by the state’s quest for neoliberal economic policies.
Overseas employment serves as the only means of survival for many women and at the same time the Philippine state draws on women’s gendered and sexualised labour to take on the burdens of the economic and political drains of neoliberalism. By trading workers the state is guaranteed a steady flow of remittances and is able to attempt to contain social disruption as more and more people of both genders fight for more just choices to globalisation.
To conclude then, this assignment has demonstrated the links between the global process of migration and capitalism through the need to move to find work or a better wage. It has been shown that not all migrants experience the same inequalities and that globalisation is not only about trade and economics but also about the exchange of culture through migration. The essay has highlighted that the effect of globalisation has been to trigger a greater volume of individuals crossing national borders and that the movement of female care workers from less wealthy parts of the orld to more affluent countries has become a remarkable element of global migration. However, migrating people are not just labour force; they have lives and families of their own (Kroger & Zechner 2009). Migration touches more and more families all over the globe and all of them are faced with varying problems whether it be the separation of family members geographically from one another or by questions concerning how care and support can be provided and maintained for those family members left behind.