GLOBALIZATION AND THE CHANGE OF SOCIAL INEQUALITIES IN MODERN SOCIETY

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Eddy Bruno – Labour Market Researcher & Political Economist

Globalization is “meeting of processes that have led to growing international networking” (Alasuutari 2000). In recent years, it has increased with the rapid advances in information technology, the collapse of the Eastern bloc, and the associated opening up of new markets, as well as the rise of Asian countries. Moreover, since the 1980s, the process also shows the interaction of the following four macrostructures: (A) the increasing internalisation of markets and the resulting growing competition between countries with very different wage and productivity levels and different social standards; (B) the intensification of competition between the social states and the resulting consequences; (C) the rapid worldwide networking of people, stakeholders, and States; and (D) the rapid rise in the significance of globally linked markets and the associated increasing interdependence and volatility of local markets. However, on the one hand, productivity gains and improvements in the general standard of living have led to a growing general uncertainty. Equally, the following changes are also to be noted: (I.) It is increasingly difficult for all actors to make rational decisions, in particular of long-term life`s commitments; (Ii) long-term decisions have become increasingly difficult, resulting in a socio-economic shift in favor of short-term planning; and (Iii) there has been a shift in the power constellations on the labor market, which has impacted asymmetrical relations (i.e. “temporary work or temporary contracts”) on the labor market (Blossfled et al. 2007) This has spilled out disappointments, loss of trust, reduction in family, and welfare function, which are attributable to four central changes in the personal life histories and resulting social patterns of inequality in different societies in the world.

Therefore, the four central transitions in life and work are:
A) Young people and Young adults – the losers of Globalization:
They are confronted with increasing rise of uncertainty in the labor market, which manifests itself in precarious and atypical forms of employment (e.g., part-time work, precarious forms of self-employment, temporary employment, and cohort comparison of lower incomes etc.). There is also a lack of professional experience and networks, which makes entry into the “internal” labor market particularly difficult. The effects vary according to welfare and employment regimes with the experience “more serious in the US than “flexible forms of employment in the European insider-outsider markets.” In addition, education has become more and more important, as low-skilled entry-level workers are particularly punished and disadvantaged within the system. In addition, because of life’s uncertainties, young adults are mainly without children, which is an economic and socially rational structural development.
B) Middle-income men – the winners of Globalization
On one hand, the employment conditions of well-qualified male workers are stable and are protected against flexibilisation by employers. On the other hand, low-skilled and less established workers such as education graduates or young adults are punished. There are also country-specific differences in labor market, welfare arrangements, and determinants such as individual resources – educational qualifications and professional human capital.
C) Women in the middle of their lives are marginalized.
However, despite labour market integration, women are primarily engaged in a precarious way and in all modern societies, unpaid family and care activities are still largely taken over by women. They are disproportionately flexible in working forms (such as, precarious part-time jobs, unsafe and low-paid employment, jobs with lower career prospects, high risk of a decline or unemployment) to meet the parallel family obligations. Likewise, development patterns vary in different regimes and the individual resources (educational capital) centrally determine the life and work process.
D) Employees in the early retirement age
However, due to the new flexibility requirements, older workers have several comparative competitive disadvantages compared to younger labor market competitors. They are also perceived as “less flexible, not adequately qualified and cost-intensive” by firms (ibid). Moreover, they are strategically motivated by attractive financial incentives to early exit – “early retirement strategy” [e.g. In the Central and South European countries] or through the following strategies. On the one hand by the market mechanism [e.g. In the liberal states] or through state mechanisms for the enhancement of adaptability – an active labor market policy, state support for lifelong learning and professional qualification [e.g. Social Democratic States of Scandinavia].

Despite that, the is a development of Social Patterns of Inequality in the Globalization Process
I. Regimes with inflexible employment systems: (e.g., German, Italy, Spain)
The speech here is from a regime that leads to an intensification of inequality between insiders / outsiders and which has led society into a highly secure and well-earning group on the one hand and a marginalized group of people on the other. This affects mainly job-seekers, women, as well as the unemployed and unqualified whose problems have intensified on the labor market. In southern European regimes, the inequality is most pronounced as labor market structures are even more rigid and the welfare state is much more fragmented than in the conservative countries of central Europe. Hence, inflexible regimes have fostered the inequality between the generations by “older people (or former insiders), whose employment flexibility through high pensions is comparatively socially secured, and (…) young people who make their flexibilisation in the labor markets with comparatively little social security and relatively low risk compensation, as well as the financing and high social security of the “disrupted generations” (ibid).
II. Employment-demanding regimes
There is a great difference between the market-oriented liberal and the social-democratic countries. Liberal labor market and welfare state systems are relatively easy to meet through dismissals and wage adjustments (such as, in the US and the UK), which point to a high level of mobility as well as significant wage differences between groups with different qualifications. These inequalities are little cushioned by welfare state policies and benefits that have shifted the labor risk to individual resources with increasing labor market flexibility. In contrast, the social democratic countries (such as the Denmark) make it possible to increase employment flexibility with comparatively strong state support measures that help the reintegration of the unemployed. At the same time, the entrepreneurs have little scope for wage flexibility , which can be observed with a higher workload mobility and thus caused social inequalities between younger and older generations as well as within one generation.
III. Post-socialist regimes
The risk of unemployment as well as wage inequality has risen strongly in these countries after the fall of the socialist system, but the country-specific flexibility strategies are very different. In the same way, the social inequalities between workers have therefore strongly increased with insiders and outsiders problems

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