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The Correlation of Globalization and Freedom of Movement

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Over the past decades, the mobility of people, information, and capital have greatly spread diversity. While the process of globalization and advancement of transportation technology together have lowered the constraints of communication across long distances, they have not entirely facilitated migration movements along differing geographical routes. Globalization is the expansion of world-wide interconnectedness and global linkages, including the integration of world economies, production markets, nation-states, and knowledge. However, globalization does not grant the freedom of movement nor commodify all people. Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 13 states “everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own,” this right to liberty of movement does not address barriers generated from state sovereignties. That being said, French-Senegalese bestselling novelist, Fatou Diome, indirectly addressed this veiled notion. She claimed, “with your passport, you go anywhere around the world, and act like you run those places… we will all be rich together or perish together.” She recognizes that citizens of these powerful nation-states can freely roam the planet with little to no restrictions because of their origin. On the other hand, foreigners who are seeking a new country of destination, and are not given travel documentation, face continued oppression and lack accessibility to the beneficial elements of globalization. Unless we address all local issues that could be bettered by interpreting their position within global institutions, as well as establish a sense of unity across differing nations, ideologies such as nationalism fostered by xenophobia, neoliberalism with a capitalistic approach, and cosmopolitanism not unified by social progress, will ultimately lead to the failure of humanity as a whole.

Globalization is an ununified and ongoing process which establishes an alteration in “the spatial organizations of social relations and transactions” (Wiken). Elements of this include the heightening of transnational economic activities. However, economic activities and marketplaces, even at the international level, must still acknowledge the political structures bounded within differing nation-states that inevitably influence the global economic network as a whole. Neoliberalism is an ideology that has recognized these strong political powers that exist. It further favors economic freedom that reorganizes societies and markets by reducing the amount of government intervention, or eliminating trade barriers, that impose a control on them and the movement of capital and goods. It allows for an endless accumulation and distribution of wealth. However, absolute freedom in terms of neoliberalism, and the desire to act in self-interest, can surge unequal economic systems and individuals. Take for example the elimination of tax or freedom from trade unions. While neoliberalism could contribute to a company’s efficient production of goods, it can greatly danger workers who are placed in poor working conditions with low wages. Further it could encourage those elites, who accumulated the wealth, to keep it for themselves rather than dispense it to those who are stuck in poverty.

Migrants arriving from failed states, countries that cannot generate economic success, are also threatened from neoliberalism and capitalism. Because economic producers differ with political powers, those nation-states which have more power than others, can allow corporations housed within their boundaries to obtain even more power. This can ultimately control the movement and choices of specific groups of people. It creates marketplaces established by dispossession. Take for example the immigration policy, “Overseas Domestic Worker Visa,” which was intended for domestic migrant workers moving to the UK. Many of these workers did not have legal status, and therefore, were abused and taken advantage of in terms of wages and working conditions. Those of who run these corporations, are able to maximize their wealth and contribution to the market, because of their power and relation with the government. However, migrants who do not earn enough to play a part in this contribution of profit to the state are “not introduced into society, thus leading the government to minimize costs and not feel the need to spend money on public services for them” (Graduates Democracy). Again, this dispossession of wealth upon migrants can ultimately jeopardize the value and life of some human beings.

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Nationalism can also lead to the vast discrepancies of migrants’ resources compared to immigrants who identifying with a politically powerful country of origin. It is an ideology that encapsulates the pride and sacrifice one feels towards their nation. Further it is the idea to be collective and to have a feeling of belonging to a certain place. While this objective appears harmless, nations that structure their people around similarities of race can establish racial constructions that could be utilized to oppress people who do not fit into those categories of similarity. It becomes this game of “us” versus “the other.” Migrants who come to live in a country that appeals to nationalism are normally marginalized for not having a cultural or ethnic identity that is similar to the single identity structured by the state. Because nationalism is rooted in those who control political projects, limitation of an immigrants’ social and economic rights is a political tool to dehumanize an individual and establish tighter rein on immigration systems. They have the bureaucratic ability to label these ethnic minorities with negative terms and enter socio-political zones by controlling who they let into their arbitrary borders. In other words, they can regulate who they dispense travel and citizenship documentation to as a way to manage the homogenized identity they want to see their citizens affiliate with. As Diome insinuated, having a passport allows for citizens from some nations to have easy entrance across territories for economic reasons whereas individuals from other countries are restricted for immigration control purposes. Therefore, when an undocumented migrant is not included into the host country’s political or economic system based off their previous residency, they are normally redirected to alternate destinations, insinuating that human lives distant from certain national borders are disposable. By having control over the movement of specific groups of people, nation-states can solidify their boundaries in reference to race and claim power over others.

Globalization, however, challenges nation-states’ attempts to solidify imaginary boundaries. This means, where institutions are rising beyond the nation-state to global city networks, boundaries remain in motion, and cultures are in a constant flux. In order to establish a positive connotation of this “togetherness” Diome speaks of, humans must be aware of the space around them and accept new identities beyond their own. A new concept known as Cosmopolitanism does well at working through these disputes I mentioned in the previous paragraph. It advocates for bonds created in local dimensions to be extended outward to humanity as a whole. By viewing the world not as singular but as a collection of nations, will encourage individuals to strive for cross-cultural understandings and harmony amongst all.

Unfortunately, cosmopolitanism can manifest around economic growth if its underlying, driving force is capitalism. In the reading we read in class, The World in Guangzhou, Scott, a mid-twenties American, sought out a better economic opportunity in China. He did not feel the need to learn Chinese nor totally obey governmental policies in his host country, yet still benefited from his job in Guangzhou. Omar, a thirty-year-old from an Arab country, traveled to China to escape crime and also find better economic opportunities through the production of goods. Although he goes to great efforts to export produced goods from China that ultimately benefit his hometown, he realized the potential to be cheated out in business activities or money. Here you see that while Scott is technically extending his body beyond local boundaries, he feels no reason to attempt to understand or respect new cultural values, but instead completely retain his origin country’s identity. He fears no threat of Chinese authority because he is a white-foreign in possession of a U.S. passport, which the “U.S. may perhaps be China’s greatest opponent on the world stage.” On the other hand, Omar’s visa utility is not nearly as powerful or reliable as Scott’s. He does his best to avoid any conflict with Chinese authorities or officials, but at the cost of being taken advantage of by factories due to his easily disposable travel documentation.

Because of this, I do feel Diome’s claim holds utility. “Unequal access to foreign spaces and opportunities reinforces existing inequalities between highly privileged citizens from strong nation-states versus those who face mobility barriers” (Czaika and Neumayer 76). When those individuals who are at a political and economic advantage continue to embody cosmopolitanism that lacks social progress and exclusive nationalistic ideologies, as well as restrict the cross-border mobility of certain people, collaboration is contained, and thus no one will reap the full benefits produced from economic globalization. Because we are all relational through systematic global dimensions, when one group or nation is politically or economically impeded, others will eventually feel the effects of their collapse as well. However, cosmopolitanism with a focus on inclusivity of ethnic differences as well as empathetic alternatives to nationalistic xenophobia can create mutual interdependence across borders and accelerate globalization that, as Diome said, “will make us rich together.”

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The Correlation of Globalization and Freedom of Movement. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from
“The Correlation of Globalization and Freedom of Movement.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
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The Correlation of Globalization and Freedom of Movement [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2024 Feb 29]. Available from:
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