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Globalisation in Jamaica
The Pros and Cons

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Globalisation In Jamaica | Jamaican Folk Song And DressGlobalisation In Jamaica | Jamaican Folk Song And Dress

by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer

Interacting with people, no matter the setting has become significantly easier. A product of globalisation. This is heavily based on the 18th-century advancements in technology which change the way we travel, do business and communicate.

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The growing interdependence of countries through culture, economies, politics, services and technology has made the world feel a little smaller than it felt say, half a century ago. It has accelerated and made easy the processes of buying/selling, employment, sharing information and many other avenues. However, has Jamaica been affected by globalisation? And if globalisation has reached Jamaica, how exactly can its effects be seen?

Like every other country, globalisation has impacted Jamaica to some degree especially in economic, technological and cultural aspects., for better or worse.

Globalisation has an impact on everything from the way we communicate and dress to the way we do business.

Economic Effects of Globalisation In Jamaica

Because of globalisation, it is easier for businesses to have multiple locations worldwide or outsource labour to another country for cheaper labour. This is something many people are on the fence about as some large companies take advantage of this cheaper labour and individuals from less privileged backgrounds are treated unfairly and underpaid.

But, when done correctly, it can provide great financial gain for the people of a country and the country as a whole.

The BPO sector in Jamaica is proof of that with close to 50,000 employees. Not to mention the other industries such as transportation that benefit from the success of the BPO sector, Usually it is difficult to find jobs directly out of secondary or even tertiary institutions. Most Jamaicans usually have the plan to go overseas or have a job lined up in some other country even before graduation. Many, not because they want to leave but because they have to if they are to be financially stable.

Since the BPO sector became a viable option, some people are more comfortable staying which lessens the percentage of educated Jamaicans leaving the country. Not everyone wants to stay in this industry and it is sometimes a means to an end, but it has helped many people to actualize other goals such as completing school or acquiring assets such as that first home,  car before they venture onto other paths. 

Not only are businesses coming into Jamaica to “set up shop”, but Jamaicans are also able to introduce their products and services to a wider audience as well. All over the world, there has been an increase in self-employment and business ownership and with globalisation and the internet, they can compete in the global space and market and sell their product all over the world.

Some of these businesses were catalyzed with the knowledge and skill set gained through BPO training/experience.

Off the back of this,  small business owners not only employ themselves but other persons as well and not just in Jamaica, which further creates jobs all over the world and lowers global unemployment. 

Investment in Jamaica's many industries, but especially in manufacturing and tourism, also improves our economy. Many local companies have seized this opportunity to go public and use the capital created from this to expand their businesses. Jamaicans are also a lot more discerning about how they save and create financial freedom for themselves and those around them. Many have seen investment as the best way to do this.

Tourism impacts the economy in many ways. Not only is it our strongest earner of foreign exchange, but the industry itself employs many persons both directly and indirectly (agriculture immediately comes to mind).

Globalisation has created a need for people to see and experience other countries first hand and it is so simple to travel these days that there are hardly any major concerns, especially when you have seen it on your timeline and how absolutely captivating it is.

Speaking of travel, the way we do so now is far simpler than it was even 20 years ago. If we are to compare it with periods past, where it would take in the best case scenario a few weeks to travel from one country to the next to now where it is at most a couple of hours I think we can all agree that we should have very little complaints.

It really is very easy to travel from one country to the next, which has impacted not only economic relations but cultural and technological ones as well.

The Cultural Impact of Globalisation In Jamaica

This aspect is always a conversation starter, no doubt. Has globalisation impacted Jamaica’s culture positively or negatively? 

It might be a little difficult to decide. For one, more persons are aware of or have access to Jamaican culture and its impact on other cultures is evident through the two easiest ways to be introduced to another culture; food and music.

The recent increase of persons listening to music outside of the main genres and cultivating a sense of appreciation for African genres, for example, is proof of this. While Jamaica’s Reggae and Dancehall genres have always been appreciated and celebrated by others outside of the culture, I think what globalisation has done is renew the love older persons have had for the genres and introduce it to new, younger ears as well.

Many worry that performers outside our shores will take away the essence of these genres and considering who won the Reggae Album category at the Grammys this year they may have a point. However, Jamaican musicians must realize that we live in a merged global space which is open to anyone so, in many cases (if not all), the product will at some point out grow the confines of its origin. With local shows like Reggae Sumfest, which is focused on celebrating Jamaican music and artistes, I think we do a good job of retaining the "Jamaicanness" of our music.

Cultural education should be easier with all the avenues to share and to learn, but it is very easy for lesser-known cultures to be overpowered by the more dominant ones. I don’t think Jamaica suffers heavily from this though.

We are in the fortunate position where Jamaican Culture and Caribbean Culture, in general, has been a part of the shaping of worldwide popular culture and so it is somewhat easier to retain some part of our culture without feeling disassociated from either.

Our food is also very popular and well-loved by Jamaicans and foreign nationals alike. While some persons have taken on healthier diets entirely (again a positive product of globalisation), or have adjusted some of the more unhealthy dishes. Some dishes are not eaten as frequently, just for celebratory occasions.

Even so, the Jamaican way is still present in the way we prepare and season our foods no matter what it is that we are cooking. That is not to say our culture has gone completely unscathed by globalisation, some Jamaicans see subgenres which are a fusion of Jamaican genres and something else as Reggae and Dancehall being sullied. 

The way we dress too has been impacted by globalisation. I think this is one of the stronger pieces of evidence of globalisation in Jamaica. The way we dress is heavily influenced by American, European and Asian cultures, especially in streetwear. We still have our traditional dress, but that is reserved for special occasions in most cases, which in my estimation is happening all over the world.

Globalisation In Jamaica and Its Impact on Technology

Because of globalisation, falling behind technologically as a country means being unable to communicate with and relate to other persons. Technology has been significant for Jamaica, especially in the education system. Not only that it has impacted the way every industry in Jamaica operates and in most, for the better. 

The Effects of Globalisation In Jamaica On Quality Of Life

Before most Jamaicans had the impression that working long, hard hours was the way to live and any break for fun was frowned upon as a waste of time and money.

Now being dedicated to your job or craft is still encouraged, however, this worldwide call for people to stop and remember to spend quality time with themselves and those closest to them has also impacted Jamaica, and you can often see a lot more Jamaicans on vacations both here and abroad.

More people are also doing what they love and not just doing a job because of the financial security.

Globalisation's contribution to the Jamaican economy and technology has been astounding, however, I think our culture is something that we should not allow to be overly influenced by it.

Whether we see it as a positive or negative, it is something we all have to admit is very evident. It's also fair to say that cultures all over the world have absorbed Jamaican culture into their practices as well through globalization and our diaspora connections and otherwise strengthen these.

Jamaica's Cultural preservation is a very active and involved and intentional process at school, community and government policy level. There is a Ministry of Culture and their main agency is the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).

Among the innumerable things they do is Jamaica Day celebrations. At this time, nationally, businesses (BPOs included), schools and everyday folk participate and the effort is reflective of a very  strong sense of being Jamaican and what it embodies. It suggests that we will not be overtaken by “global pop culture” and globalisation in Jamaica has contributed to more positives than negatives.

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References & Sources For Globalisation In Jamaica

  1. Globalisation's effect on Jamaican culture | News | Jamaica Gleaner, 
  2. The Pros And Cons Of Globalization,
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