Globalisation: The Cost of Convenience

I challenge you to put down your phone, and look around you in your next morning commute. I did this once while living in Sydney and observed my fellow passengers, and marveled the fact that every single person was on their phone. People were texting, scrolling, searching and basically just burning their time with their little machines with screens. Now this might not shock you (it certainly didn’t shock me) but what may is how these devices make their way into our palms, and the real cost behind the convenience of smartphones.

Globalisation as defined by O’Shaughnessy and Stadler is as follows:

‘Globalisation refers to an international community influenced by technological development and economic, political, and military interests. It is characterised by a worldwide increase in interdependence, interactivity, interconnectedness, and the virtually instantaneous exchange of information.

Globalisation could lead to the homogenisation of world cultures, or to hybridisation and multiculturalism’  (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler, P 458)

Now globalisation itself seems like an amazing step in the evolution of human society, and from the quote above we can see many possible outcomes as to how it could benefit us. It could lead to an interconnected world, working in harmony to utilize information, communicate and work together to make our world a better, more interdependent multicultural safe haven. Sadly, as with most things, it is not that simple. An example of globalisation is the outsourcing of labor by many major companies, and one example is our beloved Apple Inc.

apple_really_number1_supply_chain_wide_image
(Supply Chain 247, 2013)

Apple has for years outsourced the manufacturing of Apple Iphones and Ipads to many different countries, but lets look at the big one; China. See above Apple’s supply chain. As we can see, the materials are sourced from many outside countries, and are then brought to china to begin the manufacturing process. Now, the main company handling this is Foxconn, and not surprisingly this company AND Apple have recently come under scrutiny by Amnesty International and Afrewatch after a report came out highlighting the child labor supporting manufacturing process that concerns some batteries found in Apple products.

Now some may say, “Well this is normal, so many companies do this to keep the cost down for consumers.”. This may be the case for some, but studies have actually shown that if Apple were to move its manufacturing process to America (which would also create thousands more jobs), the Iphone would only cost $2-$3 MORE (Kabin, 2013). The reason why they decided to do otherwise was so that they could maximise the profit cut for the corporation heads, and ensure that the work is done as fast as possible. Now, how do you think the work is done so fast? The workers in China work 12 hours, no break 7 days a week. Plus, if they were to buy an Iphone for themselves, it would cost them many years of hard, manual labor to do so.

McLuhen’s view of a Global Village is idyllic and in some respects is emerging, given our growing exploration of our own and other cultures around us, but things like this are in my opinion turning back the clock. We sit here with the ultimate machine of convenience in our hands, while the hands that created them are sore, tired, and struggling. The dichotomy of this is the exact opposite effect of what globalisation is supposed to cause, and something needs to be done.

Sophie Abrahams

Reference List:

O’Shaughnessy M & Stadler J, 2012, ‘Globalisation’, Media and Society, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 458 – 471.  

Kabin, B 2013, Apple’s iPhone: Designed in California But Manufactured Fast All Around the World (Infographic), Entrepreneur, weblog post, September 11, viewed 5 August 2017 <https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228315&gt;.

Supply Chain 247, 2013, Apple Supply Chain [ONLINE], available at: http://www.supplychain247.com/article/is_apples_supply_chain_really_the_no._1_a_case_study, assessed 5 August 2017.

 

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