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America's History in the Making

Global America

Theme 3

As the United States emerged from the Cold War in the early 1990s, the processes of globalization—such as immigration, trade, and the sharing of popular culture—have linked Americans closely to the rest of the world.

During the 1990s, the United States was a key part of globalization: Worldwide communication and transportation networks brought about technological, economic, political, and cultural exchanges. At the close of the twentieth century, technological innovations, such as the Internet and e-mail, sped up global communications. Increased international trade and communication spread American popular culture abroad, while a rising tide of immigrants from Latin American and Asian countries infused the nation with the newcomers' cultural and religious attributes.

For the American consumer, globalization meant more access to the best goods at the lowest prices; for workers, however, it often meant reduced wages or lost jobs. By 2000, environmentalists, labor unions, and human rights activists spoke out against the globalization of the U.S. economy out of a concern that multinational corporations would relocate anywhere in the world to find the lowest cost of production. For these groups, the global assembly line brought few environmental and workplace regulations. Multinational corporations, with the political support from the increasingly popular Republican Party, continued their drive for cheap labor, new international markets, and the weakening of federal environmental laws and regulations.

Primary Sources

Artifacts

American Culture Across the Globe

Hasan Jamali/Associated Press, A REFLECTION OF AN UNIDENTIFIED SAUDI MAN APPEARS IN THE WINDOW OF A MCDONALD'S RESTAURANT (2002). Courtesy of AP/Wideworld.

Sweatshop Labor in the Nineties

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press, ENTERTAINER KATHIE LEE GIFFORD (1996). Courtesy of AP/Wideworld.

World Trade Organization (WTO) Protests

Ralph Radford/Associated Press, PROTESTERS HOLD POLICE AT BAY NEAR THE CONVENTION CENTER DURING WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION TRADE TALKS (1999). Courtesy of AP/Wideworld.

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