Demystifying De-globalization in Post-Covid World

“Society is never the same as the one that existed before the calamity. For good or ill, calamities are unquestionably the supreme disruptors and transformers of social organization and institutions.”(Pritim Sorokin)

The Covid19 pandemic invaded the world like a silent dark shadow. Originating as pneumonia alike disease in the city of Wuhan in China on December 31, 2019, the pandemic has completely paralyzed the world[1]. As of August 15, 2020, the pandemic infected almost 21 million people and caused close to 750,000 deaths worldwide[2]. It is argued that the viral spread has not only affected people’s health, but also the global economy with a rapid economic recession along with severe rising humanitarian crises and social changes[3]. Authors like John Gray, suggest that under this pandemic, globalization will come to end, resulting in more fragmented world[4]. The pandemic also “exposed fatal weaknesses in the economic system that was patched up after the 2008 financial crisis” says John gray. Likewise, the measures adopted or enforced to stop the spread the viral infection has changed the way people live and work, such as working remotely, online learning, pandating (sex, love and dating)[5], tele-health, and home entertainment[6], creating self-centralization, protectionism and strong nationalism, with close borders to contain the viral spread[7]. These abrupt changes imply that globalization is over, and the world is moving towards isolation instead of global cohesion. However, after conducting a secondary research on various aspects of de-globalization and the impact of covid19, it can be concluded that these predictions or changes never implies that globalization is going to die, or shift to small-scale localism, rather, it will reshape its features, scale and magnitude of globalization and societal changes in post-covid world.

We know that Globalization is a growing interdependence, and the recent pandemic shows how this interdependence could be driven relating to economies, culture and populations influenced by flows of people, information, money, media, trade and technology. While the economies globally are affected by the pandemic, with billions of dollars are lost in several industries, unemployment, closing borders and trading, and has an unrest in the society. However, several countries developed the coping mechanism and adopted this change.

Despite being severe in both scale and depth, one fortunate thing is that the pandemic occurred in today’s digital age[8] where we used advanced technologies as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, smart sensors, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile and location technologies, virtual and augmented reality (VR & AR), cloud computing, and autonomous systems[9], to mitigate its effects both on economy, society and human lives. While its true that pandemic like the Black Death or 1918 influenza had huge ramifications for the world afterwards, but which of these changes will have a lasting impact on society and ultimately globalization, and whether those previous pandemic ended the notion of “globalization”, we never see again, need a closer look.

The first argument lies in dissolving the traditional sources of social cohesion and political legitimacy and replacing them with the promise of rising economics and living standards through globalization and inter-dependencies. Socio-economic analysts like John Gray claiming “De-globalization” believe that this experiment has now run its course, as suppressing the virus necessitates an economic shutdown and immobility. However, such prepositions are supported by any ground realities or empirical evidence. Their main argument lies on the single notion of globally integrated capitalist system marked by relationships of domination between centre and periphery. But, it is far more complex and not merely an economic and political process, but also a social, cultural, and even environmental phenomenon.We know that, these shutdown can only be temporary, and even many world economies like China, South Korea, Pakistan performed well through “smart lockdown”, with little impact on global supply chain, an essence of globalization. Similarly, many countries begin to open their trading and will start visa services business across Asia and EU.

Second argument suggests that the pandemic will induce inequality, racial discrimination or xenophobia, consequently, collapsing the pluralistic world. As the early counts of deaths in the US showed that coronavirus killed far more black and Latino people in comparison to the percentage of population that they represent – as in New York City, the rate was twice as much for those populations than for white people[10]. Similarly, the rise in xenophobic attacks against Asian immigrants in Europe, Australia, and US also created unrest among nationals and government of these countries. . However, the “chronological account of the world shows that during 1853, the yellow-fever epidemic in the United States and European immigrants, who were perceived to be more vulnerable to the disease, were also primary targets of stigmatization”. During the SARS outbreak, which originated in China, East Asian bore the brunt. When the Ebola outbreak emerged in 2014, Africans were targeted[11]. Hence, it’s not the first time that people from the origin of a disease country are targeted and whether this means people from these countries or the government ended their trade with the US, Europe or Australia?

Even though no one can deny the fact that the COVID-19 thrive the negative effects on the health of minorities (Asian-American, latino and black) and other vulnerable groups, there are reasons for optimism as well. These include the emergence of mechanisms for reporting and tracking incidents of racial bias, increased awareness of racism’s insidious harms and subsequent civic and political engagement by the Asian American community, and building resilience-promoting factors that can reduce the negative health effects of racism. Likewise, in terms of the inequality, all those seem to be examples of immobility rather than changes during pandemic[12]. Indeed, humanity’s past experience with pandemics is telling when it comes to radical change. The record shows that “inequality can be disrupted with pandemics”, but only in those cases where it involves “massive death”. Such was the case with the fourteenth-century Black Death, which killed as much “a third of the population of Europe, whereby labour shortage resulting from the decimation of populations ended up doubling or tripling wages for ordinary farmers and craftsmen[13]. On other hand, the coronavirus pandemic seems to have prompted many national governments, INGOs and Financial institutions to timidly decide to dedicate larger resources to programs like employment retention, social safety net, care and social protection, making the mental and political shift towards valuing care, protection of indigenous, immigrants and marginalized communities. This is evident from several developed and developing countries such as Pakistan[14], China, South Korea[15], Spain[16] who spend even at much larger than ever in history.

Another argument is based on our recent experiences of the imposition of lockdown as a shock to the world free system- as people’s freedom or mobility is restricted, making us feel lonely or listless or anxious. But while “physically distanced”, the internet and social media have allowed us to reach into each other’s homes even more than ever. The estimates from We are Social (2020), showed an “increase of 7% in the use of the internet with respect to the previous year in 2019 in global terms, meaning 298 million new users, the growth in active users of social networks experienced a growth of 9.2% as compared to the 2019, which implies 321 million more users interacting in the networks.”[17] In Spain alone, it was calculated that Social media consumption increased by 55% where people were using these media to mingle with Spanish and other nationals[18]. Hence, the Social relationships for many seem not to have suffered. This new normal and social media have also allowed us to explore hobbies and interests we might never have had before – like the people turning to social media to solve real-life mysteries from their homes[19]. However, it is also important to maintain a balance between leveraging the science and technology, social media and protecting people’s privacy as it has been more challenging to trace the Covid-19 cases in the USA than in countries like China or South Korea due to varying nature of different privacy laws.[20]

Similarly, despite a great disruptive and painful, covid19 also invariably nurtures the emergence of great common purpose, solidarity, creativity, and improvisation. It not only prompted widespread expressions of mutual solidarity and support from States, civil society but at the individual level that transcended socioeconomic status and backgrounds. This pandemic also opened a little windows into how everybody else has responded and found their own coping mechanisms from addressing the shortages of commonplace items, or difficulties in getting out to the shops, health facilities or securing help, people came, joined the campaign both online and offline to serve the underserved communities (such as minorities, sex workers and transgenders), reinforcing global efforts to reduce marginalization and gender-biases. While people have not only accepted the restriction of “individual freedom on mobility” but, voluntarily and from deep conviction, practice consideration of their neighbor, who might be weaker and more vulnerable than they are, regardless of their religion, nationality or caste. “I am moved when I see how friendly and humane most people are acting in the COVID-19 crisis. That gives me hope, particularly as I had not expected so much community spirit” says the Bishop Ralf Meister from Germany[21].

Likewise, the perpetual rise in the incidences of divorce i.e. in China, provoke the notion that it happened only due to the pandemic. However, it wouldn’t be fair to completely blame coronavirus for an increase in divorce rates and relationship issues, as there are several other factors (age, incompatibility during summer breaks, holidays) as Neuropsychologist, Dr. Hafeez revealed that “many of her clients already knew they had issues in their marriage before COVID-19, and their problems only worsened during lockdown”[22]. Similarly, University of Washington research considered divorce rates to be“seasonal”; as when couples who do not live together may be forced to take long periods of time apart or re-evaluate wedding plans, which can create a new set of stressors and lead to breakups[23].

The pandemic perhaps also unlocked an inner creativity and resourcefulness of many communities, as many of us have more time on our hands these days, to start home gardening, Kitchening, allowing people of different nations, sharing foods recipes, books recommendation, and culture, reconnecting us with something that is increasingly lost in hectic modern life – from rebuilding personal relationship with intimate partners and families, to link with other people. In that sense, a vital priority ahead is an upscaling one: “to extend care from individual bodies to what allows them to persist: relationships, ecosystems, and the biosphere, the whole planet[24]” that consequently will support the idea of global citizenship and assert changing the features and scale of globalization after pandemic.

The pandemic will also positively shift in expectations and workplace culture, where employees are valued on how well they meet their deliverable targets on time, not how many hours they sit behind their desk in the office. Hence, workers no longer need to remain within commuting distance of the office, but can live wherever most convenient or desirable. And the knock-on effect of this would be “ residential property values dropping in major cities, and more people moving out into the suburbs or rural areas: a reversal of the trend seen since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution[25].

In conclusion, history demonstrates the dynamism and resilience of global connections despite the very catastrophes that globalization provoked. In the light of past experiences, it would be risky to predict deep renunciation of interconnection and interdependence. Since, even in the past, consequences of of such catastrophes disprove the assertions of those who prophesy globalization’s end, and major conflicts had provoked unprecedented global interactions. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic does not mean the end of globalization; it doesn’t even mean the beginning of de-globalization, but neo-globalization, reshaping its nature, at social, political, environmental fronts, countries will continue to adopt, learn from other each: a more global interdependence will continue to be a defining feature of our time.

End Notes


[1] Blackburn et al., Digital strategy in a time of crisis. McKinsey Digital, April 22, 2020

[2] Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. Coronavirus Resource Center. Retrieved from https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

[3] Stoll, J.D. Crisis has jump-started America’s innovation engine: What took so long? Wall Street Journal, April 10. 2020

[4] John Gray, Why the crises is turning point in history? Published in New States Man, April 1, 2020 https://www.newstatesman.com/international/2020/04/why-crisis-turning-point-history

[5] The Economist. Pandating: coronavirus and the language of love. Published on July 15 2020 Available on https://www.economist.com/1843/2020/07/15/pandating-coronavirus-and-the-language-of-love

[6] Lee, S., & Trimi, S. Convergence innovation in the digital age and in the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Journal of Business Research, forthcoming in 2020.

[7] Ibidi

[8] Guy, 2019; Trimi, 2020

[9] Tonby & Woezel. Could the next normal emerge from Asia? McKinsey & Company, April 8. 2020

[10] New York Times. Virus Is Twice as Deadly for Black and Latino People Than Whites in N.Y.C. Published on April 8, 2020

Retrieved online from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/nyregion/coronavirus-race-deaths.html

[12] Christos Zografos. Covid recovery and radical social change. Published online 7th July, 2020. The Ecologist. Available online at https://theecologist.org/2020/jul/07/covid-recovery-and-radical-social-change

[13] Evans, Richard J. “Epidemics and Revolutions: Cholera in Nineteenth-Century Europe.” Past & Present, no. 120 (1988): 123-46. Accessed November 9, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/650924.

[14] The News International. Pakistan ranked top in Asia for social protection amid Covid-19. Oct 6, 2020 Retrieved from https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/725452-pakistan-ranked-top-in-asia-for-social-protection-amid-covid-19

[16] Maria Dalli. The minimum vital income, a question of rights. 2020 retrieved from http://blogs.infolibre.es/alrevesyalderecho/?p=5781

[17] Hootsuite We are social. Digital 2020. [(accessed on 18 July 2020)];Abril Glob. Statshot Rep. 2020 Retrieved from: https://wearesocial.com/blog/2020/04/digital-around-the-world-in-april-2020

[18] Pérez-Escoda, A., Jiménez-Narros, C., Perlado-Lamo-de-Espinosa, M., & Pedrero-Esteban, L. M. (2020). Social Networks’ Engagement During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Spain: Health Media vs. Healthcare Professionals. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(14), 5261. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145261

[19] Frank Swain (2020). BBC Future. The people solving mysteries during lockdown. Available online https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200612-how-to-help-the-world-during-lockdown

[20] Chen, Z. COVID-19: A revelation – A reply to Ian Mitroff. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 156, 1-2. 2020

[21] COVID-19: New awareness of social cohesion growing in the crisis. Available online https://www.lutheranworld.org/news/covid-19-new-awareness-social-cohesion-growing-crisis

[22] Spectrum News New York. Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Created a Spike in Divorces? Available online at https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2020/06/27/has-the-coronavirus-pandemic-created-a-spike-divorces-

[23] University of Washington. Is Divorce Seasonal? UW Research Shows Biannual Spike in Divorce Filings. Published online 16 August, 2016. Available online https://www.newswise.com/articles/is-divorce-seasonal-uw-research-shows-biannual-spike-in-divorce-filings

[24] Nonunadimeno. La Vita Oltre La Pandemia. 2020 available on https://nonunadimeno.wordpress.com/2020/04/28/la-vita-oltre-la-pandemia/

[25] Ibidi

Bibliography

Blackburn et al., Digital strategy in a time of crisis. McKinsey Digital, April 22, 2020

Chen, Z. COVID-19: A revelation – A reply to Ian Mitroff. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 156, 1-2. 2020

Christos Zografos. Covid recovery and radical social change. Published online 7th July, 2020. The Ecologist. Available online at https://theecologist.org/2020/jul/07/covid-recovery-and-radical-social-change

COVID-19: New awareness of social cohesion growing in the crisis. Available online https://www.lutheranworld.org/news/covid-19-new-awareness-social-cohesion-growing-crisis

Evans, Richard J. “Epidemics and Revolutions: Cholera in Nineteenth-Century Europe.” Past & Present, no. 120 (1988): 123-46. Accessed November 9, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/650924.

Frank Swain (2020). BBC Future. The people solving mysteries during lockdown. Available online https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200612-how-to-help-the-world-during-lockdown

Guy, J. S. Digital technology, digital culture and the metric/nonmetric distinction. Technology Forecasting & Social Change, 145, 55-61. 2019.

Hootsuite We are social. Digital 2020. [(accessed on 18 July 2020)];Abril Glob. Statshot Rep. 2020 Retrieved from: https://wearesocial.com/blog/2020/04/digital-around-the-world-in-april-2020

John Gray, Why is the crisis a turning point in history? Published in New States Man, April 1, 2020 https://www.newstatesman.com/international/2020/04/why-crisis-turning-point-history

Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. Coronavirus Resource Center. Retrieved from https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

Lee, S., & Trimi, S. Convergence innovation in the digital age and in the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Journal of Business Research, forthcoming in 2020.

Maria Dalli. The minimum vital income, a question of rights. 2020 retrieved from http://blogs.infolibre.es/alrevesyalderecho/?p=5781

Mauro Testaverde. Social protection for migrants during the COVID-19 crisis: The right and smart choice. APRIL 28, 2020. Available online https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/social-protection-migrants-during-covid-19-crisis-right-and-smart-choice

New York Times. Virus Is Twice as Deadly for Black and Latino People Than Whites in N.Y.C. Published on April 8, 2020. Retrieved online from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/nyregion/coronavirus-race-deaths.html

Nonunadimeno. La Vita Oltre La Pandemia. 2020 available on https://nonunadimeno.wordpress.com/2020/04/28/la-vita-oltre-la-pandemia/

Pérez-Escoda, A., Jiménez-Narros, C., Perlado-Lamo-de-Espinosa, M., & Pedrero-Esteban, L. M. Social Networks’ Engagement During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Spain: Health Media vs. Healthcare Professionals. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(14), 5261. 2020 https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145261

Spectrum News New York. Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Created a Spike in Divorces? Available online at https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2020/06/27/has-the-coronavirus-pandemic-created-a-spike-divorces-

Stoll, J.D. Crisis has jump-started America’s innovation engine: What took so long? Wall Street Journal, April 10. 2020

The Economist. Pandating: coronavirus and the language of love. Published on July 15 2020 Available on https://www.economist.com/1843/2020/07/15/pandating-coronavirus-and-the-language-of-love

The News International. Pakistan ranked top in Asia for social protection amid Covid-19. Oct 6, 2020 Retrieved from https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/725452-pakistan-ranked-top-in-asia-for-social-protection-amid-covid-19

Tonby & Woezel. Could the next normal emerge from Asia? McKinsey & Company, April 8. 2020

Trimi, S. Technology, innovation, and the COVID-19 pandemic, Decision Line, 51(3), 32-37. 2020

University of Washington. Is Divorce Seasonal? UW Research Shows Biannual Spike in Divorce Filings. Published online 16 August, 2016. Available online https://www.newswise.com/articles/is-divorce-seasonal-uw-research-shows-biannual-spike-in-divorce-filings

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3 thoughts on “Demystifying De-globalization in Post-Covid World”

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