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Globalization Glossary

The Globalization Glossary is a list of terms, concepts, and organizations important to the understanding of globalization and health.  Definitions and important concepts related to gender can be found in the “Introduction to Gender and Health“ module.  A more detailed discussion of the debates regarding the definition of globalization will follow the Globalization Glossary.

Capitalism:  Capitalism is “the condition of possessing capital“ [1].  It refers to an economic system whereby goods and services are exchanged on a for-profit basis.  Exchange is generally mediated through money.  This contrasts with other types of exchange and economic systems which may exchange goods or services directly for other goods or services without the goal of profit.  When thinking about capitalism in the context of gender, globalization and health, it is important to consider gendered divisions of labour, paid versus unpaid labour, the movement of production from developed nations to developing nations, and how this impacts on occupational health, the family unit, and overall individual, family and community health.

 

To civilize:  The concept of civilizing a group of people literally means “to bring out of a state of barbarism“ [1]The idea of civilizing a group of people stems from colonial mentalities whereby the colonists (occupiers) saw native or indigenous people as being a less intellectually and socially evolved form of people.  Consider the concept of civilization when thinking about development projects occurring in developing nations.

 

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Colonialism:  Colonialism refers to the practice of occupying land outside of the main nation-state (colony), but under the rule (direct or indirect) of the main nation-state.  For example, Canada was originally a colony of Britain.  Colonialism and its associated ideas are closely linked to "civilization".  That is, the patriarchal idea of bringing native or indigenous peoples from their "backward", traditional lives to one which is aligned with Western thought and practice.  However, colonialism has generally resulted in exploitation of the land and people in the colony by the occupiers.  It is important to consider a history of (or ongoing) colonialism when thinking about health.  Think about ways social, economic, cultural, and natural resource exploitation may impact on health at an individual to population level.

 

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Commodification:  Commodification is the commercialization of an object or activity that is not inherently commercial [1].  The human body, especially women’s bodies, are frequently commodified in the media in order to sell products.  Think about the links between viewing people as products and health.  If the body is seen merely as an object, how does that impact on our attitudes - i.e., how we value and consequently treat it.

 

 

 

Deterritorialization:  Deterritorialization and the loss of the nation-state is an important concept to globalization.  It refers to the increasing loss of literal and figurative borders between nation-states.  For example, the Internet and other information and communications technologies allow us to easily connect with other individuals and organizations around the globe.  It also speaks to the loss of sovereignty, or the ability of a nation-state to govern independent of other nation-states.  Multi-national organizations (e.g., World Trade Organization, United Nations) and multi-lateral agreements (e.g., GATS, GATT, TRIPS) create obligations and even laws which are at a level beyond that of the nation-state.  However, it is each individual nation-state which is under obligation to the larger body.

 

GATS:  The General Agreement on Trade in Services is a multi-lateral agreement under the World Trade Organization.  It is one of five multi-lateral agreements under the WTO relevant to health (see also GATT, SPS, TBT, TRIPS).  GATS may have a impact on health, and especially trade in health services, because it allows for private investment in health services, e-commerce, and telehealth [7, 8].

 

GATT:  The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is a multi-lateral agreement under the World Trade Organization.  It is one of five multi-lateral agreements under the WTO relevant to health (see also GATS, SPS, TBT, TRIPS).  It is important to health because it contains a provision for certain situations where a ban on a product of import will protect public health [7, 8].

 

 

Globalizationreturn to the discussion ’what is globalization?’

 

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Public Domain, created by Tolga Kocak, 1996

Imperialism:  Imperialism describes the expansion of 19th-century Britain geographically and politically.  The creation of the British empire involved acquiring colonies which were valuable, most commonly for economic advantage.  Consider how the concept of imperialism and expansion for political and economic purposes may impact on health through the exploitation of people and natural resources. 

 

Industrial revolution:  The industrial revolution occurred in late 18th- to early 19th-century when there was a rapid development in technology allowing for increased production through mechanization and large-scale production methods.  The resultant changes impacted on health through occupation, urbanization, and social change [1].

 

Industrialization:  Industrialization is the development of organizing systems of labour, manufacturing, and production [1].  See industrial revolution.

 

International Monetary Fund:  The IMF is an American-based organization with 184 member countries.  “It was established to promote international monetary cooperation, exchange stability, and orderly exchange arrangements; to foster economic growth and high levels of employment; and to provide temporary financial assistance to countries to help ease balance of payments adjustment“ [9].  The IMF and World Bank were created at the Bretton Woods meetings in 1944 following World War II.  The initial goal was to rebuild post-war Europe.  However, these organization now focus on bringing developing nations into the international, free (open) economy [2].  Proponents of the IMF see it as a vehicle to alleviate poverty.  However, critics suggest it actually creates poverty [2]

 

Modernization:  Modernization is the act of making something current.  That is, bringing something from the past into the present.  See “to civilize“.

 

Nation-state:  A nation-state is generally an independent political state [1].  It can be used synonymously with country, or nation, but is more inclusive and can include individuals who share a common identity (e.g., an indigenous or Aboriginal nation-state within a country).

 

Patriarchy:  Patriarchy is a hierarchical system of social organization whereby men hold positions of power over women [1]The role of patriarchal systems are important when considering issues of gender and health disparities.

 

SPS:  The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures is a multi-lateral agreement under the World Trade Organization.  It is one of five multi-lateral agreements under the WTO relevant to health (see also GATS, GATT, TBT, TRIPS).  The SPS applies to food safety.  There is concern that it may be used to block the importation of foods from developing to developed nations in order to protect domestic producers, even when there is no scientific evidence pointing to food safety issues in the developing country [7, 8].

 

TBT:  The Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade is a multi-lateral agreement under the World Trade Organization.  It is one of five multi-lateral agreements under the WTO relevant to health (see also GATS, GATT, SPS, TRIPS).  It applies to foodstuffs, consumer products, biological agents, and pharmaceuticals, and sets out standards for comparing “like“ with “like“ in terms of production, quality, labeling, and packaging.  There is concern that the comparison of “like“ with “like“ (and not product to a gold standard) may prevent the implementation of improved safety standards if they add to production costs. 

 

TRIPS:  The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights is a multi-lateral agreement under the World Trade Organization.  It is one of five multi-lateral agreements under the WTO relevant to health (see also GATS, GATT, SPS, TBT).  TRIPS was created with the intention of promoting the creation of new knowledge.  However, the use of TRIPS to obtain and maintain patents has created problems with getting generic medications to developing countries, and generated controversy over the “patentability“ of cultural knowledge (e.g., traditional medicines) and genomic information [7, 8].

 

United Nations:  The United Nations (UN) evolved out of the League of Nations in 1945.  The UN is involved in many aspects of global assistance and development, but is best known for providing humanitarian relief and peacekeeping [10].

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WHO/P. Virot

 

Urbanization:  Urbanization is a process of organizing people, processes, activities, and labour in cities or towns.

 

World Bank:  The World Bank is an American-based organization with 184 member countries.  “The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world“ [4].  The two development institutions owned by the World Bank “provide low-interest loans, interest-free credit and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, communications and many other purposes“ [4]The World Bank and IMF were created at the Bretton Woods meetings in 1944 following World War II.  The initial goal was to rebuild post-war Europe.  However, these organization now focus on bringing developing nations into the international, free (open) economy [2].  Proponents of the World Bank see it as a vehicle to alleviate poverty.  However, critics suggest it actually creates poverty [2]

 

World Trade Organization:  The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international body which creates and deals with the rules of trade between nations.  “The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business“ [11].  The WTO is the essential creator, promoter, and enforcer of rules and contracts with respect to economic globalization.  Critics of the WTO view it as one of the most powerful, but secretive, multi-national organizations on the planet.  Concerns largely relate to the WTO’s willingness to put economic globalization and market liberalization ahead of human welfare, human rights, social justice, environmental protection, labour rights, local culture, and national sovereignty [2].

 

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1. Oxford English Dictionary - 2nd edition [electronic edition]. Oxford, : Oxford University Press; c2000 [cited 2006 June 1]. Available from: http://www.oed.com/

2. International Forum on Globalization [homepage on the Internet]. San Francisco: The IFG; [cited 2006 June 1]. Available from: http://www.ifg.org/analysis.htm

4. World Bank [homepage on the Internet]. Washington, DC: The World Bank Group; c2001 [cited 2006 June 1]. Available from: http://www1.worldbank.org/economicpolicy/globalization/

9. International Monetary Fund [homepage on the Internet]. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund; [updated 2005 July 6; cited 2006 June 8]. Available from: http://www.imf.org/external/about.htm

10. United Nations [homepage on the Internet]. New York, NY: United Nations; c2005 [cited 2006 June 8]. Available from: http://www.un.org/english/

11. World Trade Organization [homepage on the Internet]. Geneva, Switzerland: World Trade Organization; [cited 2006 June 8]. Available from: http://www.wto.org/

All references for this section