Digging Deeper The Effects of Global Capitalism

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Digging Deeper The Effects of Global Capitalism


Have you ever considered how large-scale social forces change our individual everyday lives? Think about it: global capitalism sounds far away, but its effects are present everywhere, in our work and in our homes. For instance, perhaps you enjoyed fresh strawberries on your cereal in the middle of January. Where did they come from? The import and export of goods and services from one country to the next is part of globalization. Perhaps you or one of your parents has experienced downsizing because your work was outsourced to another company or the department itself moved to another country. This, too, is part of the shifting process from industrial capitalism to global capitalism.

Social change is always occurring. It’s not always comfortable, but it keeps our social institutions and individual lives dynamic, and we adapt. The shift to global capitalism means our economy and, for many of us, our work is now truly global, with goods and services produced anywhere and everywhere, and with jobs being done in one country for a company operating in another. Or, for some, it may mean working from home while the company of employment is located in another state or another country. How do the expansion of our economy and the definition of where and how we work change us, as individuals, a country, and a global community?

To see these effects more clearly, it helps to understand the history and development of economies over time. As with any large-scale social change, the shift from traditional, small economies to global, postindustrial economies is reflected in every transaction and interaction, large or small. As you will learn, our relationship with each other, with our employers, with the tasks of our daily labor in our new globally technologized economy has changed everything. What does it mean to live and work in an era of days spent in faceless, computerized interactions; to move through international systems of commerce; to be employed by multinational conglomerates, instead of the intimate, local connected work of our agricultural ancestors, or the work of our parents and grandparents during the industrial age, when manufacturing was king, and strong and loyal relationships existed between workers and employers?

Digging Deeper The Effects of Global Capitalism


  1. First, study the historical changes in economies that have occurred from the pre-industrial age to today’s postindustrial society. Take notes of the key changes that have happened. These notes are aimed to help you formulate your points. Keep track of how the economic changes alter the social world and the world of work in each era.

  2. Then, examine the impact large and multinational corporations have had on economic control. Specifically, consider the consequences and impact corporations now have on nations and on individual workers.

  3. Formulate an opinion from a functionalist, interactionist, or conflict perspective on the effects of global capitalism. You are going to write a letter to a child who is living today. In your letter you will address the implications of global capitalism for this child and his or her generation. Your letter needs to be accurate, but it should also be passionate, as you are trying to help this child understand why the topic is relevant to him or her. Specifically, in your letter you should:

    • Summarize the development of and changes to economic systems from preindustrial society to today. Include a discussion of the economic order and the importance of economic activity. How has the division of labor changed, and what are social consequences of surplus wealth?

    • Discuss the causes and consequences of global capitalism and of the control wielded by large corporations. As part of this discussion, include the social causes and effects (nationally and individually) of worker alienation and unemployment. What implications do all of these things have for the child’s quality of life, working life, and ability to find work?

  4. Support your ideas with information from at least two sources found in your readings and exploration materials. Consider bringing forth points from Marx’s analysis of alienation and work. Be sure to use the Writing Guide for help writing a letter.

  5. Attach your letter to your post. Your letter should be a minimum of 150 words. Remember, your letter must include two sources cited in APA Style. Need help with APA? Please refer to the CCCOnline APA Citation Toolkit.

Digging Deeper The Effects of Global Capitalism


Digging Deeper The Effects of Global Capitalism