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Cultural Globalization


McDonaldsCultural globalization is the rapid traversing of ideas, attitudes and values across national borders. This sharing of ideas generally leads to an interconnectedness and interaction between peoples of diverse cultures and ways of life. The term “globalization” came to be widely used in the 1980s, but as early as the 1960s, Marshall McLuhan popularized the term “global village” to describe the effect that the ability to connect and exchange ideas instantaneously would bring to the world.Mass media and communication technologies are the primary instruments for cultural globalization. Global news services such as CNN disseminate the same events and issues across the world including some of the most remote locations in the world. A terrorist attack in a small village school in the Northern Caucasus can hold entire households in Kansas spellbound. This internationalization of news exposes countries to foreign ideas, practices, and lifestyles. The development of computer technology — with its social networking sites, video sharing websites, blogging sites and various other permutations — has served to accelerate cultural globalization as there are no boundaries on the World Wide Web. Advances in transportation have also facilitated physical travel to other countries, which in turn, has encouraged cross-cultural exchanges.

globeCultural globalization is perhaps best exemplified by pop culture. The youth in Aruba dance pretty much as the ones in Kyrgyzstan and in Norway. Chinese animé is watched in Chicago, and Mexican soap operas are lapped up by viewers in Manila. The newest release of a musical group is rapidly disseminated worldwide through a variety of video sharing websites. Personalities achieve global pop icon status through the same means.The proponents of cultural globalization point to the benefits that the exchange of knowledge and information can bring. Foremost among its proponents is big business. The more cultural homogeneity that is attained, the easier it is for businesses to sell their products globally. Certain goods such as Coca Cola® and McDonald’s® burgers are sold the world over. Many brand names are just as coveted in Madras as in New York. Economic globalization goes hand in glove with cultural globalization. Thus, it is sometimes pointed out that cultural globalization is more corporation-driven than country-driven.

The detractors of cultural globalization bewail its deleterious effects on national identities. They note the vanishing of unique cultural entities. Cultural diversity, they lament, is rapidly diminishing; cultural distinction is dissipating and cultural integrity, disintegrating. They bemoan the threat of dominant, industrialized cultures overtaking and supplanting indigenous cultures.


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