Essay on What Is Globalisation and Why Is It Important for Those Who Work With and for Young Children To Understand Childhood From a Global Perspective?
Number of words: 3034
This essay commences by communicating a definition of the concept of globalisation, with all three of its domains explored, before then subsequently proceeding to elucidating how it impacts upon children and the implications it has on those that work with young children such as practitioners, childcare workers and other ancillary staff. Although the section which defines globalisation in this essay is descriptive, the remainder of the essay which disseminates the impacts on children and the impacts it has on those working with young children will be more critical, with sustained criticality exhibited throughout the assignment, to form a critical appraisal and evaluation of the essay question.
Globalisation is a multi-faceted concept, of which many definitions exist of. It is primarily viewed in a positive manner, although there may be some negative aspects of it. Essentially, globalisation is a process that opens countries to things which were previously beyond the realms of them in the past, such as resources, lifestyles and cultural aspects as well the economies of countries being further integrated (Stiglitz, 2003). This could have impacts on the lives of children within countries as globalisation is something which affects all domains of the lifestyle of a country: economic, political, cultural and other aspects, which will consequently have a significant impact on the lives of children in such countries as the context they exist within is altered by the changes which is going on around them (Kaufman and Rizzini, 2002). Evidently globalisation is a concept which needs to be explored further in order to obtain a clearer picture of what it actually applies to, as it is such a wide-ranging phenomenon. However, attempts to do so seem to be constrained by the sheer nature of globalisation, with it encompassing a multitude of variables. Furthermore, an attempt to locate an unambiguous definition of globalisation seems to be curtailed further by the views of Scholte (2002) who vehemently states that no definitive definition of the concept is in circulation, which could possibly be attributed to the three dimensions (or contexts) of globalisation which were mentioned earlier: economic, political and cultural. It is evident that these contexts are not independent of each other: they overlap to some degree, a supposition could be made that the main dimensions of culture which overlap are economic and political tenets of globalisation and the political and cultural aspects (which could in some cases be the antithesis of each other) of the concept. However, such a conjecture seems to be partially unfounded considering that no definitions of each domain of globalisation has been communicated. Although this essay will be focussing on economic globalisation, for the primary rationale that the economic climate that children exist within is essential to their quality of life, definitions of cultural and political globalisation are expressed in the next section (as well as a brief recollection of how each dimension of globalisation is related to each other), to be a useful adjunct to the main body of the essay.
Types of Globalisation
Fundamentally, economic globalisation refers to the financial aspects of globalisation and how it can affect the prosperity and affluence of the worlds which children reside in, such as their quality of life, the amenities and infrastructure they have access to as well as the environment that they reside in (Kaufman et al., 2002). Huwart and Verdier (2013) note that globalisation is a contentious subject and that awareness of the importance of economic globalisation has increased in recent years due to the proliferation of modern media and also the economic downturns which have occurred in countries worldwide (such as the recession in the UK in 2008 and at various other points in the contemporary era). This has enhanced the interest in globalisation as there has been an increased interest in the interaction of each country’s economies and the global interrelatedness which exists between them. This seems to provide the rationale for selecting it as an area of focus to study in this essay, due to the prevalence and importance of it worldwide. Parallel to this, it seems common knowledge that cultural globalisation is synonymous with westernisation, in that the culture of many countries have been homogenised with brands such as McDonalds and Starbucks dominating the market worldwide and technological advances becoming increasingly apparent in each country across the globe as traditional cultures and values become marginalised (WHO, 2015). However, this viewpoint is contradicted by that of Piertse (2015) who instead suggests that globalisation has contributed to the ‘hybridization’ of cultures, where although certain aspects of cultures have been merged (alluding to the concept of westernisation), there is tangible evidence to suggest that there is a greater diversity in economic beliefs and values, a point which is reiterated still further by Murphy-Berman and Kaufman (2002) who actually opposes the widely-accepted view that westernisation and that the shift of cultures from West to East is one way flow, rather espousing the view point that it is multi-directional and that aspects of the culture from the East are transferred to the West and vice versa. This viewpoint seems to be further validated by the point of the acceptance of Eastern food stuffs into British and European Culture (Ahn et al., 2011). Political globalisation refers to work of agencies who assist more deprived countries, with the formulation of the millennium development goals (MDGs) (a set of 8 goals which were aimed at improving the quality of life of people in poorer countries, with the aim of achieving these goals by 2015) being fundamental in this (Stiglitz, 2006), with globalisation being used as a positive movement in this instance, due to the commendable work of the NGOs and the positive influences that they can have on people who live in deprived countries (where perhaps the prosperity of westernisation is not yet present). Globalisation in this instance seems to be positive, although there is literature which rails against Globalisation, suggesting that it has actually increased inequalities (Nymanjoh, 2002). Therefore, the literature portrays a mixed view of globalisation.
Effects of economic globalisation on children and the impacts it can have on childcare professionals’ practice
Although definitions of the three dimensions of globalisation have been communicated, the precise impact of economic globalisation on children has only been alluded to (in that it can increase/decrease the resources, facilities and amenities which children have access to), the rest of the assignment will cover this in further depth as well as establishing a rationale of the strategies which those working with children should adopt if they wish to alter their practice to cater for the effects of globalisation. However, in order to be able to assess the impact of globalisation on children appropriately, two main areas of focus need to be selected. The MDGs (See Appendix 1 for a full outline of these goals) prove a useful starting point for identifying which areas need to be focussed on, as well as the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child. Buhler-Niederburger and van Krieken (2008) make the rational point that the UN convention stipulates that a child should have access to many fundamental rights in order to have a suitable and happy childhood, with education and suitable healthcare being just some of the requisites which a child needs to have a reasonable childhood. The two MDGs which seem to be most similar to the UN convention and also most relevant to children are: ‘Achieve Universal Primary Education for all’ (education) and ‘Reduce the child mortality rate’ (healthcare) and these will be intertwined with economic globalisation to see the effects that it has on young children.
Theoretically, according to the earlier points made about the nature of globalisation, it should positively impact children in receiving better healthcare as there have been recent technological advances which have been made in the contemporary era. This is true to some extent, as child mortality rate has decreased significantly with it halving in most continents across the world, although it still falls short of the standards of the MDGs which aim to reduce the child mortality rate by two-thirds, although this may be implausible, given the economic constraints which exist in some countries (UNDP, 2015). Putting this into a mathematical context, Unicef (2010) reports that there are 1,000 daily cases of mothers passing on HIV/Aids to their babies such as HIV/Aids which can be particularly fatal for the fragile immune system of a young child, with many of those who are infected dying before their second birthday. Although efforts are being made in this area to combat the lack of education and reaffirm the benefits of safe sexual intercourse and the importance of keeping children safe, there may be little which can be done to the mitigate the effect of this phenomenon with such interventions, however extensive and laudable they may be (Unicef, 2010). However, a conjecture could be made that economic globalisation could potentially amend this problem with Matos (2012) making the useful point that until the 1990s most media was national in scope, but since the boom of economic globalisation (and the increase in technology and other such devices), media has become global in nature and stories now cover the whole world instead. Matos (2012) also converses a defence of the more modern, alternative forms of globalisation which have recently been instituted which aim to reduce the power disparity between nations and also increase education and health, with the work of NGOs being crucial in such efforts (Lewis, 2009). Ultimately, this has had a significant impact on the practice of those who work with children, which is differentiated by the country those staff work within. Essentially, economic globalisation has raised the awareness of the importance of health and other such issues (through the proliferation of modern media), which will no doubt cause childcare practitioners (particularly those who are diligent and dedicated to their practice) to cater for such issues in their practice, such as educating the ‘whole’ child in partnership with parents (DCSF, 2008). This ‘parent partnership’ could entail educating the parents about their child’s welfare (in a non-offensive and unobtrusive manner) and entails the child being physically and mentally catered for in childcare settings, with a particular vigilance in looking after the wider needs of the child, including ensuring that their health is ensured and that they are not carrying any ailments (DfE, 2014). Although the argument which has been expressed originated from references taken from the UK, the educating the ‘whole child’ philosophy has been something that is now endemic worldwide (Huitt, 2013), with a particular emphasis on professionals on looking after children ensuring the welfare of the child. The target ‘Achieving Universal Primary Education for All’ stipulates that all children worldwide should have access to a primary education and be able to be schooled appropriately (UNDP, 2015). Economic globalisation has made this plausible, with numerous efforts from NGOs to make this happen and aid being distributed from more affluent countries to those who are in need of it for educative purposes, such as the construction of new buildings and buying resources such as textbooks and other paraphernalia, with initiatives in the past advocating wealthier countries having a target of dedicating 0.7% of their Gross National Product (GNP) to humanitarian aid, of which a significant proportion was allocated to education (OECD, 2015). However, not all countries are capable of meeting this target, with some falling below it due to insufficient funds at their disposal, although countries like the UK have made a commitment to dedicating the percentage stipulated earlier to aid (Parliament, 2015).
In essence, it is important for professionals working with children to understand the importance of the wider nature of global perspectives on educating the whole child as it changes the way that their practice is orientated towards, with a paradigm shift occurring, with holistic education being something which is eminent in the practice of the world (Mahmoudi, 2012). The wider needs of the child now needed to be taken into concern and allowances need to be made for that, such as improved training and catering for the needs which children have. The increased emphasis of the health of the child has changed the practice of childcare professionals as it has made it important for them to consider global perspectives of the issue: perhaps as a comparison tool for assessing their childcare provision against others in the world or possibly learning from the exemplary practice of others and making suitable alterations to their practice (with mass media again proving notable in improving communication and the spread of information in this area). Improving the mortality rate of children is only a subset of the healthcare domain which has been focussed upon, with ensuring the wider health of children becoming an eminent priority for those working with children, which has shifted their practice from educating the child to ensuring that all their needs are met, particularly with their healthcare being apparent, something which may not have been possible worldwide if economic globalisation had not occurred- as there may not have been many NGOs present who would not spread advice and education over the importance of healthcare to those who exist in deprived parts of the world and may not be aware of the provisions that need to be taken to ensure the health and well-being of the child and could accidentally endanger their health (as evidenced by the earlier example of HIV transmission from mother-baby). Similarly, the effects of having a universal primary education being aimed for have also been significant, with aid being distributed to less fortunate people. Evidently, this can impact the practice of those who work with young children in a positive manner- as they have the facilities and infrastructure to better work with children, although they need suitable training and qualifications to do so, which may not be available in more deprived areas, something which economic globalisation has yet to seemingly rectify.
Thus, it seems that the effects of economic globalisation on children in this area are improved healthcare, whilst those who work with children (regardless of the country they are situated within) are able to amend their practice in a triumvirate of ways- recognising the importance of the health of a child, acknowledging this through the delivery of a holistic education to the child and also educate parents about this (although this implication mainly refers to the work of NGOs in deprived areas and how they can educate parents to ensure better healthcare for their child).
Essentially, globalisation is a multi-faceted phenomenon which has a multitude of impacts on children, in an economic (determining the level of resources they access), political (the policies and agencies which govern this area) and cultural (i.e. the westernisation of traditional cultures in the east) sense. Globalisation also impacts on the practice of those who work with children, mainly by enabling to consider a myriad of variables in what influences the welfare of the child through the proliferation of modern media and an increased awareness apparent of the needs of children (such as their health). There has also been the paradigm shift from more conventional models of childcare to those which embrace the holistic nature of a child’s development.
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