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Globalization of Culture - Essay Example

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Globalization of Culture

Globalization is perceived to represent the advance of western (effectively American) 'culture' in a move towards a uniform global culture and polity. This shift toward uniformity and global decision-making results, increasingly, in the socio-economic and political marginalization of a large number of communities. However, this process can also give rise to greater cultural plurality and fusion, producing new identities at a local level (Beck 2000). This process of globalization has prompted wider fundamentalist activity on a number of fronts and fundamentalist reaction to globalization has been given a sense of urgency as its effects are interpreted against this framework. Jean-Francois Revel states that: '"Globalization simply means freedom of movement for goods and people" (cited What Is Globalization, Really 2005, B05).
Fundamentalists oppose social pluralization that creates and privileges heterogeneity, culture fusion, moral plurality, and identity politics. This shift towards pluralization is interpreted as depriving many Americans of a political voice because political campaigns focus more and more on key interest groups and specific ethnic populations. Another definition of "globalization" states that "globalization involves expanding worldwide flows of material objects and symbols, and the proliferation of organizations and institutions of global reach that structure those flows" (Boli, Lechrer 2001). Fundamentalists are also critical of the cultural emptiness promoted by consumerism which values cheapness over workmanship.
In contrast to these views, Thomas Friedman states that: globalization means
"globalizing American culture and American cultural icons." Naomi Klein, a Canadian journalist and author of No Logo, argues that "Despite the embrace of 'polyethnic imagery', market-driven globalization doesn't want diversity; quite the opposite. Its enemies are national habits, local brands, and distinctive regional tastes" (cited Legrain 2003a, 62).
The symbolic power of intellectuals over the standards of taste which are applied to the consumption of cultural goods becomes more difficult to protect and sustain when people can consume a mass culture which does not depend on intellectuals for its appreciation and its definitions of pleasure. "Globalization promotes the mutation of national identity resulting from the imposition of the conceptual grid of nationality on exchanges and interactions in the global arena" (Cubitt, 1998, 14). Although globalization has produced a 'complexification of flows' and networks, there remains an abundance of nodes, events, and situations which foreground national identity (Beck 2000). In a globalizing world, national identity continually reconstitutes itself, becomes re-embedded and territorializes spaces, cultural forms and practices. For instance, as national and local territories become increasingly permeable, so iconic representations are peddled across the world as markers of national identity. So, "the globalization of tastes in food, dress, and music also promoted a global identity model, that of the freely choosing, pleasure-seeking consumer" (Boli, Lechrer 2001). And just as there is an infinite range of possibilities for the creation of alternative networks of culture, so there is an ever-expanding range of resources through which to construct global identity. In contrast to these views, Legrain (2003b) sees globalization not only increases ...Show more

Summary

The ongoing changes associated with contemporary globalization are partly of structural nature technological changes, the information society, individualization and in part inflected by, American culture. Thus, to the extent that America shapes global conditions they are being shaped by conditions in which others cannot follow…
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