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Study Notes

Globalisation and Interdependency

AS, A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 26 Jul 2017

Interdependency means that what happens in one place increasingly has impacts on other places.

If a natural disaster or conflict impacts negatively on a host country for migrants, then the value of remittances sent to their home (source) countries may be reduced. This adversely affects people in the source countries who have become dependent on financial flows from their family overseas

Different forms of interdependency

Summarised below are four different ways in which people and places have become more interdependent over time.

Economic interdependence

Globalisation has led to a rise in international migration.  A record number of people moved abroad for work in 2015. There is now a total of more than 230 million people worldwide living in a country they were not born in. Some sectors of the UK economy are highly dependent on eastern European labour; Eastern Europe, in turn, relies on migrant remittances from the UK. In 2016, after the UK voted to leave the EU, the value of the UK Pound fell, meaning that it became worth fewer Euros or Dollars. Overnight, the money sent home by migrant workers fell in value by over 10 per cent.

Political interdependence

One viewpoint on globalisation is that economic interdependence leads to political interdependence. In the 1990s, Thomas Friedman - a US political journalist - proposed his ‘golden arches’ theory of conflict prevention. Two countries with McDonald’s restaurants will never wage war because their economies are interlinked, according to Friedman (the 2014 conflict between Russia and Ukraine has weakened this argument, however). 

Social interdependence

Social ties between two countries can be strengthened through migration. The arrival of a large Indian diaspora (collective migrant) population in the UK has deepened the country’s interconnectedness with India, both economically and also socially. Extensive family networks now straddle the two countries.  

Environmental interdependence

All states are environmentally interdependent to some extent due to their shared use of “global commons” such as the atmosphere and oceans. For our mutual survival, we must all trust that other states and their citizens will work towards the shared goals of climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection. 

Some forms of environmental interdependency are unsustainable, however. Many countries in southeast Asia are being stripped of Siamese Rosewood due to the ability of China’s emerging middle class to purchase hardwood furniture that used to be out of their price range. Forest loss may become irreversible if it continues at its current rate.

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