Cultural globalization

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Painting of a turn-of-century trading fair, Hessisches Volksfest (Hessian Folk Festival), 1887, Louis Toussaint (1826-1887), Öl auf Leinwand.

Cultural globalization refers to the transmission of ideas, meanings and values around the world in such a way as to extend and intensify social relations.[1] This process is marked by the common consumption of cultures that have been diffused by the Internet, popular culture media, and international travel. This has added to processes of commodity exchange and colonization which have a longer history of carrying cultural meaning around the globe. The circulation of cultures enables individuals to partake in extended social relations that cross national and regional borders. The creation and expansion of such social relations is not merely observed on a material level. Cultural globalization involves the formation of shared norms and knowledge with which people associate their individual and collective cultural identities. It brings increasing interconnectedness among different populations and cultures.[2]

A visible aspect of cultural globalization is the diffusion of certain cuisines such as American fast food chains. The two most successful global food and beverage outlets, McDonald's and Starbucks, are American companies often cited as examples of globalization, with over 32,000[3] and 18,000 locations operating worldwide, respectively as of 2008.[4] The Big Mac Index is an informal measure of purchasing power parity among world currencies.

Perspectives on cultural globalization[edit]


Many writers suggest that cultural globalization is a long-term historical process of bringing different cultures into interrelation. Jan Pieterse suggest that cultural globalization is involving human integration and hybridization, arguing that it is possible to detect cultural mixing across continents and regions going back many centuries.[5] They refer, for example, to the movement of religious practices, language and culture brought by Spanish colonization of the Americas. The Indian experience, to take another example, reveals both the pluralization of the impact of cultural globalization and its long-term history.[6] The work of such cultural historians qualifies the lineage of writers - predominantly economists and sociologists - who trace the origins of globalization to recent capitalism, facilitated through technological advances.


An alternative perspective on cultural globalization emphasizes the transfiguration of worldwide diversity into a pandemic of Westernized consumer culture.[7] Some critics argue that the dominance of American culture influencing the entire world will ultimately result in the end of cultural diversity. This process, understood as cultural imperialism,[citation needed] is associated with the destruction of cultural identities, dominated by a homogenized and westernized, consumer culture. The global influence of American products, businesses and culture in other countries around the world has been referred to as Americanization. This influence is represented through that of American-based television programs which are rebroadcast throughout the world. Major American companies such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola have played a major role in the spread of American culture around the globe. Terms such as Coca-colonization have been coined to refer to the dominance of American products in foreign countries, which some critics of globalization view as a threat to the cultural identity of these nations.

Conflict intensification[edit]

Another alternative perspective argues that in reaction to the process of cultural globalization, a "Clash of Civilizations" might appear. Indeed, Samuel Huntington emphasizes the fact that while the world is becoming smaller and interconnected, the interactions between peoples of different cultures enhance the civilization consciousness that in turn invigorate differences. Indeed, rather than reaching a global cultural community, the differences in culture sharpened by this very process of cultural globalization will be a source of conflict.[8] While not many commentators agree that this should be characterized as a 'Clash of Civilizations', there is general concurrence that cultural globalization is an ambivalent process bringing an intense sense of local difference and ideological contestation.[9]

Alternatively, Benjamin Barber in his book “Jihad vs. McWorld” argues for a different “cultural division” of the world. In his book the McWorld represents a world of globalization and global connectivity and interdependence, looking to create a “commercially homogeneous global network”. This global network is divided into four imperatives; Market, Resource, Information-Technology and the Ecological imperative. On the other hand, “Jihad” represents traditionalism and maintaining ones identity. Whereas “Clash of Civilizations” portrays a world with five coalitions of nation-states, “Jihad vs. McWorld” shows a world where struggles take place on a sub-national level. Although most of the western nations are capitalist and can be seen as “McWorld” countries, societies within these nations might be considered “Jihad” and vice versa.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James, Paul (2006). Globalism, Nationalism, Tribalism. London: Sage Publications. 
  2. ^ Manfred B. Steger and Paul James, ‘Ideologies of Globalism’, in Paul James and Manfred B. Steger, eds, Globalization and Culture: Vol. 4, Ideologies of Globalism, Sage Publications, London, 2010. download pdf Inda, Jonathan; Rosaldo, Renato (2002). "Introduction: A World in Motion". The Anthropology of Globalization. Wiley-Blackwell. 
  3. ^ "2010 Form 10-K, McDonald's Corporation". United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved 3 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Steger, Manfred.Globalization. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2009.
  5. ^ Pieterse, Jan N. (2003). Globalization and Culture. Rowman & Littlefield. 
  6. ^ Ghosh, Biswajit (2011). "Cultural changes in the era of globalisation". Journal of Developing Societies 27 (2): 153–175. doi:10.1177/0169796x1102700203. 
  7. ^ Kraidy, Marwan (2005). Hybridity, or the Cultural Logic of Globalization. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. pp. 1–23. 
  8. ^ Huntington, Samuel (1993). "The Clash of Civilizations". Foreign Affairs 72 (3): 22–3, 25–32, 39–41, 49. doi:10.2307/20045621. 
  9. ^ Paul James and Manfred Steger (2010). Globalization and Culture, Vol. 4: Ideologies of Globalism. Sage Publications. 
  10. ^ Frank J. Lechner and John Boli., The Globalization Reader: Fourth Edition, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2012

Further reading[edit]

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