Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo

On the left in red ink on a white background the Arabic word for “Coca-Cola” is shown. On the right, a picture of a red can is shown. The words “Coca-Cola” are written in cursive on the right side in white going from the bottom to the top of the can and the word “Original” is written across the top in English. On the left side of the can are words in the Khmer language.
Figure 15.1 Globalization. Coca-Cola is often used as a symbol of globalization across the world. On the left “Coca-Cola” is written in Arabic script. On the right is a can with the name of the product written in both English and Khmer, the primary language in Cambodia. Cuba and North Korea are the only places on earth where Coke cannot be purchased. (credit left: modification of work “The official Arabic script logo for Coca-Cola” by “Hope(N Forever)”/Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain; credit right: modification of work “Coca-Cola can with Khmer equivalent” by “Treehill”/Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

Few symbols of global trade and Americanization abroad have been as powerful as Coca-Cola (Figure 15.1). Though it is the most widely consumed soft drink in the world, its conquest of the globe has not been without controversy. Coca-Cola bottlers were accused of interfering with labor union organization in South America in the 1990s, and in 2014, the company was forced to close a bottling plant in northern India that was depriving farmers of water. Today, although Coca-Cola is making an effort to restore the water that it uses in places like India and South Africa, some critics claim that it still uses more than it replenishes. Coke is an apt symbol of the interconnectedness of our contemporary world and the challenges it presents. Many people enjoy the benefits that come with an increasingly globalized economy, but many have also been harmed in the process.

A timeline is shown. 1944: World Bank and International Monetary Fund founded. 1955: Jonas Salk licenses the polio vaccine; a picture of a man is shown. 1962: Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring; a picture of a smiling woman is shown. 1980: Smallpox declared eradicated. 1981: AIDS discovered. 1986: Chernobyl disaster; a picture is shown of tall white buildings in front of a blue sky. 1991: Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty aims to reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles. 1995: World Trade Organization created. 2001: al-Qaeda terrorists destroy World Trade Center; a picture is shown of an American flag flying among the rubble of a fallen building. 2010: Arab Spring events oppose authoritarianism; a large group of people is shown converging on a circular area of white tents with tall buildings and trees in the background. 2015: Paris agreement on global warming.
Figure 15.2 Timeline: The Contemporary World and Ongoing Challenges. (credit “1955”: modification of work “Dr Jonas Edward Salk, creator of Salk polio vaccine, at Copenhagen Airport” by SAS Scandinavian Airlines/Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain; credit “1962”: modification of work “Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring. Official photo as FWS employee. c. 1940” by USFWS National Digital Library/Wikimedia Commons, CC0 1.0; credit “1986”: modification of work “View of Chernobyl taken from Pripyat” by Jason Minshull/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain; credit “2001”: modification of work “New York, NY, September 19, 2001 -- Rescue workers climb over and dig through piles of rubble from the destroyed World Trade Center as the American flag billows over the debris” by Andrea Booher/Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain; credit "2010”: modification of work “Tahrir Square during 8 February 2011” by “Mona”/Flickr, CC BY 2.0)
Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Mar 25, 2024 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.