Modernisation within Globalisation: The Era of Risk and Opportunity

Globalisation has a strong correlation with modernisation. From the early modernisation (i.e. when Columbus discovers America in 1492) to today’s modernisation, there has been a rapid acceleration on globalisation. The development of globalisation has been escalated to the max especially after the 20th century. This period is also the third phase in modernisation, which is signified by the globalisation of modernisation. The globalisation of modernisation emerges through industrialisation, urbanisation, capitalism, modern nation states, and mass social movement (Berman, 1983, p. 17). In other words, globalisation has been accelerated by these five processes.

Furthermore, since globalisation has caused inequality especially between developed and developing countries, some people argue that globalisation is just a new version of colonisation. However, it cannot be simply argued that globalisation today is another form of colonisation. In terms of domination, like colonisation, it is true that globalisation create dominant power. However, colonisation is “territorial, state-driven, centrally orchestrated and marked by a clear division between coloniser and colonised” (De Block & Buckingham, 2007, p. 2). Globalisation, on the other hand, is unrelated to territory and there is no clear distinction between the person who control globalisation and the person whom been controlled by globalisation. What we have in globalisation “is a process in which all manner are frontiers (political, economic, cultural, religious) are apparently breached and even reduced to nothing in the creation of seamless web of market relations and of the legal and humanitarian institutions of capitalist democracy” (Lehmann, 2009). Thus, the main tension in globalisation era is not about domination but more about the contestation of risk and opportunity as a part of modernisation occurrence especially the capitalism.

Die for Today, Live for Tomorrow

In an era when modernisation (e.g. capitalism) is the inseparable part of globalisation, we are being conditioned to consider more seriously about future security. Modern capitalism itself, according to Giddens (2003, p. 24), “is looking into the future by calculating future profit and loss, and therefore risk, as a continuous process”. The logic of insurance, for example, is based on the calculation of future profit and loss. By taking insurance, someone feels that she/he has already held the future profit. Thus, if something bad happen in the future, she/he will not gain so much loss. That is why, the advertisement of funeral insurance always started by a similar statement: “I don’t want to die soon, but if I die, I don’t want to cause too much loss to my family.” The logic of risk and opportunity has been embedded in our lives as a part of modern society.

Even in a higher stage such as state, risk and opportunity are the main reasons behind every decision. In trading, for instance, “the real benefits of trade lie in importing rather than in exporting” (The Economist, 2001, p. 73). Why? Simply because it is the principle of comparative advantage as the substitution of absolute advantage. The comparative advantage is basically an advantage that is earned by calculating the margin and opportunity cost. Again, it is all about opportunity or about prediction what may happen in the future as The Economist (2001, p. 76) states, “comparative advantage is about the product oh history and chance”. Using this principle, states then sell products in advanced prices. The amount of money we pay to buy fuel today is not the real price of the fuel in today’s market. Instead, it is a price for fuel in the future, which actually does not really clear when it will happen since the market is fluctuated. However, the capitalist would rather to hold on uncertainty rather than increasing the risk for future fuel price. People need to pay in advanced because capitalist believe that it is important to secure the future. Compare to what happened far before modernisation era when trade relied on barter, there was no logic of opportunity cost, everything based on what you have and what you want to get today. Exchange on barter does not count on comparative advantage; instead it is pure absolute advantage. This rationality is also another evidence how nation has lost its control in globalisation era that make it totally different from colonisation, which is state-driven.

Finally, based on the arguments mentioned above, we are now torn apart between risk and opportunity, which make most of us “die” for today in order to “live” for tomorrow. A logic that does not really make sense since it makes people busy to secure the tomorrow but ignore what they actually have today. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to distinguish ourselves from globalisation, we are part of it indefinitely (Khaled, 2007). Thus, if risk and opportunity are part of capitalism as a process of modernisation and globalisation cannot detach itself from the process, maybe it is more appropriate to say that globalisation is a form of capitalisation rather than a new form of of colonisation.


Berman, M. (1983). All that is solid melts into air: The experience of modernity. London & New York: Verso.

De Block, L., & Buckingham, D. (2007). Global children, global media: Migration, media and childhood. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Giddens, A. (2003). Runaway world: How globalization is reshaping our lives. New York: Routledge.

Khaled, M. (2007). Globalization and religion. Paper presented at the Globalization, Conflict & the Experience of Localities, Rome, Italy.

Lehmann, D. (2009). Religion and globalisation: A comparative and historical perspective. Retrieved from

The Economist. (2001). Globalisation. London: Profile Books Ltd.

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