What is Globalization?
Globalization sees the world as becoming a small village and network that connects people, spaces, things, and technologies. Not all scholars believe that the process of globalization is taking place in our midst. But for some who believe and assume a globalist perspective, globalization is a pervasive phenomenon that affects almost all aspects of people’s public lives, even people’s concept of commitment, love and marriage.
Globalization is a complex and difficult term with various definitions and dimensions. The American sociologist George Ritzer (2011) defines it as a “transplanetary process(es) involving increasing liquidity and growing multi-directional flows as well as the structures they encounter and create” (p.2). Under this definition, the processes of globalization do not only affect a group of people, nations or states, but social structures of societies around the globe. Unlike other definitions, this definition does not emphasize global integration but rather reduction of integration caused by growing “liquidity” of the world and by globalization’s multi-directional flows which make reality more diverse and in a state of flux.
Liquidity vs. Solidity in Globalization
The terms “liquidity” and “flows” of Ritzer’s definition have significant implications to people’s behavior, particularly to their commitment to love and marriage. Liquidity is a metaphor used by some globalists to explain the growing flexibility and mobility of things, brought about by the current processes of globalization. Liquidity simply means that things, information and places are increasingly becoming light and thus easy to transport from one place to another. “Liquids” can easily “flow” to different locations with the capacity to change their form to adapt to the environment. With today’s globalization and technological innovation, almost all things have become light, mobile and flexible. Today’s home appliances, cars, and mobile phones, and other gadgets, for instance, have become lighter, thinner and smaller: easy to move, manipulate and transport, but more powerful and advanced in functions than the older models! Even jobs have become liquids in today’s global era. They have also become light such as marketing a product online than doing it through physical presence.
The opposite of liquidity is solidity. Solidity which characterized the modern milieu prior to the current information era, makes people, things, information, and places “harden” over time and place and are therefore “heavy” and difficult to transport. Old car models are more “solid” and heavy compared to the newer models. Stone tablets, large personal computers, magazines, books, and gadgets which are “heavy” to carry are now being replaced by light but powerful smart phones, ipods, e-books and other light high-tech gadgets. With digital technology, modern transport system, free trade, and increased migration, the mobility of people, information, goods and services becomes swift and convenient.
What is the Effect of Globalization to People’s Mind and Morality?
If the mind is a social product, then it can easily be influenced by the physical and social environments which surround it. If the world today is fast evolving because of globalization’s liquidity, then people’s minds, particularly those of the urban dwellers who are exposed to the rapid pace of the global life in mega cities, are more likely to undergo constant mental recycling in their personal and communal values. The digitalization of life by the Internet, smart phones and other ICT technologies with its lighting speed has also eroded people’s capacity to stall and be “fixed” in their mental frames and moral commitments. The “solidity” of traditional values such as love, marriage and commitment is now being challenged by the growing “liquidity” of the secularizing postmodern environment of the global era to become “liquid” and contingent. The concept of commitment which is popularly taught in churches and schools as fixed and sacred is now being “liquified” and secularized by the various flows of globalization in temporal and cyber spaces.