The Liberal perspective explains globalization through an emphasis on reciprocal interactions. This suggests that development was the result of institution building, technology, comparative advantage, open markets, and specialization. To focus on specialization, the liberal perspective believes that this division of labor contributed to the efficiency of workers and encouraged a more sound system of exchange. This then results in a system of comparative advantage. If your country and its laborers specializes in what they do best (ex: produce, extraction, industrialize), overall, countries end up better off. If countries trade for what others do well the general welfare increases. The liberal perspective believes that comparative advantage is a product of Western ideas, institutions and competition.
Although specialization can produce efficiency, and has in some scenarios, critical theorist define this development as “a consequence of the systematic external exploitation of other countries”. According to critical theorists, exploitation contributes to growth. Growth was not the result of mutual benefit and gain, it was the result of a process in which dominant countries systemically exploited subordinate countries. Thus, comparative advantage was not created positively and the distribution of resources was not a collective agreement that focused on advantages of individual countries. Critical Theorist explain comparative advantage through a pattern of dominant relationships shaped by colonial governments and raw power. This is explained through the dependency theory- poor nations provide resources to wealthy states, which in turn, benefits the developed states and exploits the underdeveloped states. For example, colonial powers converted resources to produce cash crops. Like in Gambia where colonizers replaced rice farming (local consumption) with peanut plantations for (Europe consumption). Furthermore this system of trade pushes less developed countries into a marginalized system, where they cannot make progress and are left behind to provide their resources to countries who continually make progress.
I find the critical theorists explanation of globalization to be the most convincing. Corruption is an underlying factor in almost every institution. The liberal perspective explains concepts like “comparative advantage” as if we are all living in a utopian society. Exploitation occurs on all levels of the international system. The dependency theory feels most relevant to me, especially living in the United States- the largest goods importer in the world. Not only is there a surplus of products available for the average American consumer, but the majority of these products come from exploitation. For example, fast fashion has become increasingly popular in the United States. With the touch of a button, American consumers are able to purchase cheap products from other countries. The affordability attracts buyers while ignoring underlying corruption. This underlying corruption is sweat shops and child labor.
In discussion of globalization I think the Liberal Perspective gives a glossy perception of this phenomenon. The Critical Perspective dives into the corruption and exploitation that developed countries were founded on. The poor feed the rich, and due to dependency, it is a continuous cycle that traps the vulnerable. Comparative Advantage does not lead to an increase in general welfare. Developed countries continue to make progress while un-developed countries are exploited for their resources and struggle to progress.