Globalization So here we are. It’s 2001. The cold war has ended. There are technological advances every day. The world is connected by the Internet. Previously sheltered countries are now able to see what is going on in the rest of the world.
And the rest of the world can see what is going on in those countries. Ideas are bounced around as if in a pin ball machine. People in India, Pakistan, Israel, Germany, etc. know what movie stars and fashions are popular in America, Great Britain, France, and Japan. However, they get more than just movies and fashions.
They hear about issue debates, political struggles, agricultural problems, national budget deficits, and changes of power in government. Almost every aspect of life in almost every country is an open book. People in South Africa and other places where government is challenged have heard of or seen the way democracy works in other countries. Third world countries get aid from super power nations. But they also end up getting a large dose of someone else’s nationalism.
This trend has been termed globalization and is generally considered a good thing. People can imagine a future without poverty and violence where almost everyone is happy and those who are not can do something about it without starting a war. The world is still far away from this utopian goal, but we are getting there slowly. I believe that one of the manifestations of globalization is the sense of a global society. The idea that the Internet presents a free marketplace of ideas is prevalent and makes a good example for what I wish to explain.
Someone (person A) lives in Canada. Person A has a great idea for a business. He emails a friend of his in the United States, person B. Person B likes person A’s idea and they become partners. Through the Internet, they are contacted by potential investors in Denmark, Japan, Thailand, and South America. Person A and person B use the Internet to send a business proposal to the potential investors.
The potential inverters like the proposal and agree to meet persons A and B in person to draw up a contract for shareholding rights and operations costs. Thus the free market place of ideas represented by the Internet has once again allowed people from around the world to connect and create a partnership. This happens every day on a larger scale in our globalized world. Small countries form alliances with larger ones that are thousands of miles away. For example, after WWII, Japan agreed to let the U.S. take over its naval operations. So now Japan is a technological country and America’s navy protects it.
Also in this exchange, Americans are exposed to Japanese culture and the Japanese are exposed to American culture. This exposure happens all over the world every day. Some people are concerned that this exposure to a different culture will greatly affect or even alter the culture of another country. Others see globalization as a simple melding of the local and the global aspects of life in every country. In the world today, global society and local society seem to have overlapping boundaries, making the lines between them blurry.
Is the blurring of these boundaries a problem? This is the question we must answer in order to grow in our new global society. Those who see globalization as an intrusive process, believe that globalization is a manifestation of cultural imperialism. Dezalay (1990) said that, Globalization is for the most part an Americaization (p.281). People like Dezalay believe that globalization is in fact Europeanization or Americanization, and that it threatens to overwhelm or completely bury the cultural norms and values of other countries. Chuang (Communication and Global Society) said, The Americanization of a global culture via technology and mass media might lead to political hegemony, cultural imperialism, and intellectual colonization, and consequently diminish local identity (p.19). A good example of cultural imperialism is the 18th and 19th century idea of the British regarding their worldwide territories. When the British colonized America and India, they believed they were superior to the native Indians in both places because the Indians did not speak the King’s English and had strange habits and customs.
Instead of trying to find a happy medium for coexistence, the British tries to force the natives to bend to theirs laws and abandon their religions and cultural values. Specifically in the case of America, the British treated their own people with disdain. This as well as other things brought about the American Revolution. It is interesting to note that once Americans gained their freedom, they continues the trend of oppression by persecuting, in a variety of ways, the American Indians, Africans, Orientals, and immigrants of various other nationalities who came looking for a fair, free land. Although the U.S. is now considered a melting pot of humanity, some people say that this trend continues today, within the country’s boundaries as well as outside them. Therefore, if globalization is a manifestation of cultural imperialism, it is indeed problematic.
On the other side of the coin, some people say that globalization is a mostly beneficial process which brings the countries of the world together, forming a global society, and which will eventually better the lives of people in even the poorest third-world country. Hannerz (1990) decided that this world culture is not created by an overpowering and newly created system of ideals and beliefs, but through the increasing interconnection of varied local cultures (Chuang, p.19). Hannerz believed that globalization cause various local cultures to mesh and mingle and create the world culture. So one the one hand we have local cultures adding up to a world culture. On the other, we have the word culture stamping out the local cultures. So which idea is correct? That is, for now, strictly a matter of opinion. Are there problems with one or both ideas? Yes. Chuang said, globalization has affected the dynamics of nation-state, local and national (p.20).
That is certainly true. However, can the local be more affected by globalization than the national? Apparently so. Chuang talks about English as the world language. Today, English has advanced to the status of lingua franca. It has become a common (and probably the only) language which allows diverse ethnic groups of Asians, Indians, or Africans to communicate with each other (p.23-24).
For an example, Chuang chose Chinese. [Because] there are a wide variety of dialects, a Hong Kong Chinese person and a Taiwanese Chinese person would probably need to rely on English to carry on a lengthy conversation. In this scenario, global language such as English has become a medium to bridge the language differences among local people (p.24). Is this good or bad? It can be seen both ways. One could conclude that the status of English as an accepted global language is evidence of Americanization, and therefore, cultural imperialism.
With that in mind, English being the lingua franca is a bad thing. One could also conclude that because of globalization, English, as a global language, can help foster better communication within a nation, and is therefore a good thing. In the world today, superpower nations are aiding third world countries with their development. The reason is simple. The superpower nations have the ability to represent their interests on a global level (Chuang, p.23). Without these superpower nations, developing countries would not have access to the money, technology, education, and aid that they need. Does this therefore mean that the cultures of these developing countries will be overshadowed? Not necessarily.
The fact that these developing countries must depend on superpower nations for what they need to mature does not mean that they must abandon their society, ethnicity, or individuality to get it. Besides, the exposure goes both ways. The weaker country isn’t the only one exposed to something new. You can not walk away from an association without taking something with you. It’s just not possible.
A good example is the existing situation between American and Japan. America is considered a superpower and so is Japan, but Japan is the smaller country. The U.S. provides Japan with Naval support, a marketplace for their export industry and a remarkably valuable pool of investment opportunities. Japan supplies the U.S.
with technological advancement in many ways. Japanese citizens own many things in the U.S. Japanese culture has therefore become well known in America. Japanese is almost a necessary language for a businessman. So in this case the result would not be Americanization, but Japanization. Japanization can be seen in the U.S.
by, the pervasive consumption of Japanese products (e.g., cars and electronic appliances) in Americanhouseholds (Chuang, p.22). The U.S. is considered The Superpower. And yet, superpower though it may be, America is dependent on Japanese products in a number of areas in its economy. Many other cultures affect the U.S.
also. These affects are manifested as Chinese and Mexican restaurants in almost every city, German cars, African clothes, Rainforest Indian music, and such a large numbers of Hispanic immigrants that Florida almost changed the native language to Spanish. Based on my understanding of the views presented here, I believe that the idea of globalization as a manifestation of cultural imperialism is fatally flawed. I can’t see how it is possible to completely wipe out someone else’s culture just by showing them your own. I feel that although people in every nation are excited by exposure to new things, they will not simply leave their own heritage behind.
There is no reason to do so and no trend is making it an option. I believe that people tend to hang on to their core cultural values no matter what. I believe that as long as no one is trying to change the way a society thinks, and every one respect that we all think differently, the world society can grow and mature the way it is meant to. Sociology.