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Globalisation Of Culture Global Culture Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 5519 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Thus, globalization is often constructed as an impersonal and inevitable force in order to justify certain policies or behaviors, however praiseworthy some of them might be. In a broader historical sense, Mazlish (1993:6-7) and Robertson (1992:68-71) cogently argue that not only capitalism or advocacy movements but also Christianity, Islam, and Marxism have made global claims and harbored global pretensions. The start of globalization is also a contested issue (Held et al. 1999). World-system theorists maintain that the expansion of European capitalism in the 16th century marks the start of globalization (Wallerstein 1974; see also Waters 1995:2-4).

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Robertson (1992:179) argues that globalization “took off” between 1875 and 1925 with the “time-zoning of the world and the establishment of the international dateline; the near-global adoption of the Gregorian calendar and the adjustable seven-day week; and the establishment of international telegraphic and signaling codes.” term ‘globalization’ was first used around 1960 in its world-wide sense as opposed to its much older meanings of the global as something sphericalor universal. It is far from a uniform and inexorable trend. Rather, globalization is a fragmented, incomplete, discontinuous, contingent, and in many ways contradictory and puzzling process (Guidry, Kennedy, and Zald 1999; Held et al. 1999:43proponents of the feeble thesis focus almost exclusively on the economic and financial aspects of globalization to the detriment of political, social and cultural ones. The literature offers and discuss evidence in support of political and cultural globalization that is, on the whole, quite persuasive. (Castells 1996:66-147)

The anthropologist Jonathan Friedman (1994:210-211) asserts that globalization is the product of cultural fragmentation as much as it is the result of modernist homogeneity, and that “what appears as disorganization and often real disorder is not any the less systemic and systematic.”

At the ideological and cultural level, globalization has been observed as a symptom of ‘late imperial culture’ as Aijaz Ahmad calls it as the ‘most recent and highest stage of imperialism’ (Ahmad: 2002).

Does Globalisation Produce Convergence?

A second contested issue in the literature on globalization has to do with its consequences as to the convergence of societies towards a uniform pattern of economic, political, and even cultural organization. Most famously expressed in modernization theory, the spread of markets and technology is predicted to cause societies to converge from their preindustrial past, although total homogeneity is deemed unlikely.

The critique of the presumed convergent consequences of globalization. Political scientist Robert Cox (1996:28, 30 n. 1) writes that “the social and ethical content of the economy” may be organized differently in various parts of the world.” Historian Bruce Mazlish (1993:4) argues that “no single global history is anticipated.” So It should be noted that some sociologists reject the very terms of the convergence debate by arguing that globalization homogenizes without destroying the local and the particularistic. For example, Viviana Zelizer (1999) argues that “the economy… differentiates and proliferates culturally in much the same way as other spheres of social life do, without losing national and even international connectedness.” Thus, globalization is not seen as precluding or contradicting diversity. Like Zelizer, Robertson (1995:34-35) sees the global as the “linking of localities.”

A final aspect of the convergence controversy has to do with the impact of globalization on inequality across and within countries. The evidence unambiguously indicates that there is today more inequality across countries than ten, twenty, fifty or even one hundred years ago. Stunningly, the gap in per capita income between rich and developing countries has grown five-fold between 1870 and 1990 (Pritchett 1997; Temple 1999).

There are, however, several noteworthy developing countries that have managed to close half or more of the gap since 1960, e.g. South Korea, Taiwan, and Ireland. Very few developing countries, however, have consistently grown faster than the most advanced ones since 1980. Thus, development levels appear not to be converging as a result of globalization. By contrast to cross-national


What is culture?

‘Culture’ is itself is diacritical rather than a substantive concept. In Frederick Jameson’s words, “culture is not a “substance” or a phenomenon in its own right, it is an objective mirage that arises out of the relationship between atleast two groups….No group has a culture all by itself: culture is the nimbus percieved by one group when it comes into contact with and observes another one”. In a globalise economy ‘culture’ is deemed as a matter of choice as much as of inheritance, and thus as a potentially less oppressive, and hence less ‘politicising’, category of identification than colour or ethnicity, class or gender. (See, Bennette, 1993:3-4)


When we talk about globalisation, we are in a sense talking about unity of the states across the globe. How this unity is brought up? Then how does it link the states together? What are the major contributors in this unification process? Along with a myriad of intellectuals I will also sum- up with an answer, ‘global- culture’. However, it is one of the measures required for the unification process.

One set of theorists, who are pro-global- culture say, that the global culture is making the world closer and more united. The people of the world are combining their differences and being more cooperative towards one and other. This process of emerging global culture can be seen in times of need when everyone has pulled together to strive for peace and freedom. Although, there exists a wide range of religions of which people are becoming tolerant, forming a homogenised society.

On the other hand there are also philosophers who scorn global culture for the reason, that the local culture and morality are all at stake.

If we say that the global culture is the synonym of the common culture, then there are wide range of opinion on it. Wight uses the term ‘common culture’ so loosely that it is unclear whether he has in mind a deep, historic sense of culture, or the more superficial agreed rules that compose a contractual society. (James 1993: 277-8) Alan James, ‘System or society?’, Review of International Studies 19: 3, 1993. I argue that to certain extent global culture is a common culture among the people of the world.

Further, Appadurai, Arjun in ‘Difference in global cultural economy’ talks about five dimensions of the global culture 1) ethnoscape, 2) technoscape, 3)medioscape, 4) finanscape and 5) ideoscape.

Origin of Global Culture:

To get through the idea of the origin of the global culture, I am at consensus with Barry Buzan, the way he differentiates the origin of the global culture by the way of Vanguardist and Syncretist accounts. Vanguardist account emphasizes the centrality of Europe in the expansion story and projects a rather one-way view of cultural transmission from the West to the rest of the world. The Syncretist account puts more emphasis on the interplay of civilizations during the expansion process, and takes a more fluid and interactive view of cultural transmission generally. (Buzan:3 )

Buzan says, that before working through these two accounts and their consequences, it helps to keep in mind that prior to them there are two models of expansion by which a global international society could have evolved from the late classical world. In that world there were several centres of civilization whose degree of contact with each other ranged from quite intense (the Islamic world with both Christendom and the Hindu world) through fairly thin (Christendom and China) to more or less absent (the civilizations of Eurasia and those of Meso-America and the Andean highlands). From that starting point, one way of reaching a global-scale international society would have been for the various civilizational cores of the classical world to expand into increased contact with each other, so requiring that they develop rules of the game to mediate their relations in a polycentric international society. In such a case, global international society would have developed on the basis of cultural diversity, perhaps along the lines shown by the Indian Ocean trading system before the European arrival. The other way would have been the takeover of the whole system by one civilizational core, the imposition of one culture on the others, and the absorption of all the others into its particular rules, norms and institutions. This monocentric model is close to most historical accounts of what actually happened. (Buzan: 3) . In Vanguardist terms, the development of a global interstate society has been almost entirely a function of the expansion of the West. From the sixteenth century onwards, the rise of European power quickly crushed the two civilizational areas in the Americas and eroded, and eventually overwhelmed, the four in Eurasia. By the end of the nineteenth century virtually the whole of the international system was recreated in the image of Europe, as in the Americas and Australia; or directly subordinated to Europe, as in the African and Asian colonies; or desperately trying to catch up with Europe in order to avoid being colonized, as in the few most resilient parts of the classical world: the Ottoman empire, Japan and China. The triumph of European power meant not only that a sharp and permanent rise in the level of interaction took place, but also that western values and institutions-the so-called ‘standard of civilization’-dominated the whole system in imperial fashion. This mixture of coercion and copying runs in close parallel to Kenneth Waltz’s idea that anarchy generates ‘like units’ through processes of ‘socialisation and competition’. (Waltz 1979:74-79)

Looking at this process in Wendtian terms.(Wendt 1999: 247-50)

outsiders might emulate the core because of direct coercion, or by calculation or consent. Whatever the mechanisms and whatever the rationales, the effect is one of a sub-global Vanguard remaking the world in its own political image. This account rests on a sharp distinction between West and non-West, and less sharp differentiations among the different cultures and civilizations within the non-West. It has parallels with other stories of expanding imperial cultures where westernization is a similar process to Sinification, Romanization, Russification, Islamization and suchlike. In explaining the breakout of one culture to dominate others, a Vanguardist account inevitably puts a lot of emphasis on cultural difference generally, and on the exceptionalism of the Vanguard culture in particular. As in much nineteenth-century European imperial discourse, exceptionalism easily drifts not only into a ranking of cultures from superior to inferior (civilized, barbarian, savage) but also into a racist ranking of peoples as superior and inferior. (Hobson 2004: 219-42)

Because it rests on differences of both culture and power. (Buzan:6) Robert O’Neill and John Vincent also noted the unequal relations between the West and the Third World and the consequent regional diversity of international society, with some Third World unity around non-alignment, development, and the elimination of colonialism and racism. (O Neill 1990: 283-5)

The challenges to the West come in two forms. The first is that non-western powers manage to reduce inequality by developing, and then use their new power both to assert different cultural values and to resist the solidarist western values of human rights, democracy and the liberal market. The West has lost the dominance of the second phase, and its prospect is one of continued relative decline as countries like China, India and Iran acquire the elements of modernity, and the corresponding power, that the West has made available. Its only hope is that the homogenizing effects of capitalist development will reduce cultural difference at the same time as they redistribute power. But if culture is viewed in essentialist terms as more or less fixed, then in terms of the instability hypothesis the move to a multicultural foundation and a redistribution of power spells permanent trouble and weakness for international society. (Buzan: 7)

The second type of challenge comes not from opposition combined with strength, but from weakness, whether oppositional or not. Part of the legacy of decolonization is an array of weak and failed polities that are unable to play their part in the game of states. Somalia, Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and other notional states represent holes in the fabric of international society. Their levels of internal disorder make it difficult to pursue the western agenda within them, and provide bases for criminals and terrorists acting against the West. (Buzan: 7) The Syncretist account is based on the idea that it is the normal condition of human affairs for cultural ideas to flow between areas of civilization. Cultures thus evolve not only in response to their own internal dynamics, but also because of encounters with other cultures, even remote ones. The Syncretist account challenges the strong Vanguardist distinction between West and non-West, and its corollaries of western exceptionalism and superiority. (Buzan: 11) Rather than European international society emerging pristine out of a unique and self-contained European civilization, in the Syncretist account the development phase in Europe involves very significant interaction with the other civilizations of Eurasia and North Africa. As Wight notes, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the crusades brought Europe into close contact with the Islamic world, adding to the contact already created by the earlier Islamic occupation of Spain, the two episodes together serving as ‘the channel for the acculturation of medieval Christendom’. (Wight: 52). Almost at the same time, the Mongol conquest of much of Eurasia brought Europe into contact with China and enabled increased transmission of ideas. The rise of the Ottoman empire from the late thirteenth century, and its conquest of Constantinople in 1453, meant that a rising Europe was neighbour to, and in regular contact with, a hostile and powerful non-European culture. Given that classical Greece is sometimes used as a comparator for Europe in discussions of the relationship between culture and international society, it is a nice irony that the Ottoman modifier to the story of a pristine European development runs in close parallel to the way in which the Persian empire shared a system with the city states of classical Greece, initially as the greater power, and then as the victim of Greek expansion. (Wight: 46-109). To sum up: the Syncretist view is that culture and international society are both malleable. They can and do change; cross-cultural interactions are the normal condition of international society, and flow in many directions. The Syncretist account suggests that for two reasons there is less cultural difference between the West and the rest of the world than the Vanguardist account supposes. First, the emergence of European international society was not a pristine process but took place during a long period of sustained cultural interaction with the other civilizations of Eurasia and North Africa. (Buzan: 19) This outcome envisages the triumph of the Vanguardist process. Either the Vanguard displaces and replaces other cultures, or it converts the rest of the world to its own standard of civilization, creating a universal culture based on a widespread acceptance of Western values, practices and institutions. We know that replacement did not and will not happen, so this outcome now rests on the success of westernization. The ‘degree of cultural unity’ necessary to stabilize international society would come from the success of westernization, and would go a long way towards mitigating the contradiction between hegemonic practice and the legitimating principle of sovereign equality in present-day international society. This outcome would eliminate O’Hagan’s tension as to whether international society represents the values of a dominant culture or a neutral mode of communication across cultures.

This outcome envisages the triumph of cultural mixing and adaptation. It is therefore in principle not wedded to any particular set of values, practices and institutions, but is normatively open, allowing these to emerge in the syncretic process. In practice, since the Syncretist account largely accepts the monocentric model, the actual homogenization would reflect the considerable success that the West has already had in projecting onto other cultures many of its values, practices and institutions: sovereignty, diplomacy, nationalism, the market and so on. The expectation here is also that international society will be strong and fairly uniform at the global level, but not exclusively based on western values. Rather, some mixture will emerge as western power wanes and the power and influence of non-western cultures rise. Here too we can find those who think that homogenization will result from the global operation of capitalism, though in this version the undoubted cultural carrying capacity of the global market will work both ways, with the West being as transformed as transforming by the cultural flows across the planet. There is plenty of Syncretist evidence to point to here, from the popularity of Asian food, fashion and film, and This outcome envisages the partial failure of both the Vanguardist project and the process of Syncretism. Such failure might occur for various reasons. The West might lose power before it can convert the rest. Political and cultural resistance in the non-West might be strong, particularly against the more recent and more liberal elements of Western international society.

Global- culture and Religion

Whether societies are becoming less or more secular? is another point of debate, but in the present context, to a certain extent, the societies are becoming secular . Religion became a categorical model for the ordering of the national society and their relations during nineteenth and early twentieth century. So it became an aspect of International law. The argument I want to raise here is there is a distinction between the culture and the religion? Some equate, culture with the ‘civilisation’ and inturn, ‘civilisation’ with the ‘religion’; which is not true practically.

During seventies and eightee’s there were church and state conflict prevailing, in the same way as today we think of global culture and the religion. Here comes the issue of diffusion of the religion, and then it’s global- foci. I agree the way Robertson differentiates between the ‘world’ and ‘worldliness’, on the similer terms as Max Weber does. (Robertson: 143)

The major consequences of globalisation have been

(1) the transmogrification of traditional religions and belief systems;

(2) the beginning of the disintegration of the traditional social fabrics and shared norms by the invasion of consumerism, cyber- culture, newfangled religions, social fads, and changing work ethics and work rhythms;

(3) the fast spreading anomie (in the Durkhemian sense) forcing an ever increasing number of individuals to fall back upon – for moral and social support – the easily accessible pretentious religious banalities; and

(4) attributing to religion the creation and acceleration of extremist, fundamentalist, and terrorist tendencies in the third world countries, which are intended to destabilise them, and strike at the root of their civilisation, and multicultural and pluralist nature. (Radhakrishnan: 1403)

The nature and functions of religion in society have been Under speculation and discourse for several centuries; the approaches to the understanding of religion – philosophical, theological, anthropological, sociological – and the related dimensions of religious ideas have been very old; and the nexus between religion and society has been very close, with wide, complex, intricate and elaborate ramifications: The role of religion in giving spiritual and moral sustenance to individuals, the related regulation of social life and moral order, creating and regulating cultural forms, and the inte- gration of society. One may go with the French sociologist Emile Durkheim’s postulate (endorsed by, among others, the English anthropologist A R Radcliffe-Brown) that “the main role (or “function”) of religion [is] to celebrate and sustain the norms upon which the integration of society depends” [Geertz 1968: 402].

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While on religion and globalisation, it is important to know whether globalisation unites or divides religions; results in newfangled religions; and has a direct nexus with fundamentalism and religion-linked terrorism. It is also important to ascertain whether for its new imperialist project globalisation has been exploiting different religious forms; whether fundamentalism and religion-inspired terrorism have increased since the advent of globalisation; and whether religions, far from being belief sys- tems in their traditional sense, have spawned new dimensions which are far removed from the ‘spiritual’ and ‘religious’ realms. (Radhakrishnan : 1406)

Challenges to the global culture:

For Transnational corporations,

However there are signs evidencing that the national culture no longer affects companies, when they enter other markets, because new global rules are becoming more important instead.

Instances of Global- culture:

To my way of thinking and after reading so many scholars, I come up with the following instances, which evidence the emergence of the global culture.

People are having a shared belief of freedom, and safety across the globe. All do have some common issues like Human Rights, environment protection, Freedoms, technology- savvy practices, feminist issues, health- issues and all other who make the whole world unified in claiming them.

Global culture is also emerging slowly in parts of the world. For example, Europe used to have different forms of money and now they have switched to one shared currency, the euro-dollar. Although there are many different form of money throughout the world, someday that might change.

The world is shrinking. The things which were common to one particular country or region are now accessible to the world at large. Like Italian, Chinese, Mexican And Indian food.

The world commercial market has given rise to the trans- national corporations.

Although arranged marriage persists in many cultures today, as modernization proceeds and many areas become part of the global economy, parental influences on marriage continue to decline. Young people who work for wages rather than on the family’s land no longer depend as highly on their parents’ resources. As Western popular culture-including motion pictures, television, music, and fashion-spreads around the world, many young people are drawn to Western notions of love, romance, and individual choice. In some places, such as Japan, people combine modern Western and older cultural practices. For instance, parents and computer matchmaking services help find prospective mates, and the individuals can accept or reject the proposed match.

Since its inception in the 1950s, rock music has moved from the margins of American popular music to become the center of a multi-billion-dollar global industry. Closely connected with youth culture, rock music and musicians have helped to establish new fashions, forms of language, attitudes, and political views. However, rock music is no longer limited to an audience of teenagers, since many current listeners formed their musical tastes during the golden age of rock and roll. Similarly, while rock has historically encouraged new creative expressions, the innovations of Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix have defined a tradition to which successive generations of musicians have repeatedly turned for inspiration.

Natural resources are conserved for their biological, economic, and recreational values, as well as their natural beauty and importance to local cultures. For example, tropical rain forests are protected for their important role in both global ecology and the economic livelihood of the local culture; a coral reef may be protected for its recreational value for scuba divers; and a scenic river may be protected for its natural beauty. The same is the case with conservation of Water, the whole world collectively is in favour of water conservation policies.

Cultural exchanges, across the world, for example, the spread of islam or Christianity has been seen in last few years as increasing.

Internationalisation of the Media like radio, television, newspaper and internet are linking together the world at large.

Apperception of Western culture as an attribute of the world today, as an outcome of the global expansion of industrial capitalism, which for the first time integrated the world into a global system centered in Europe. Major constituent of Western culture have ceased to be “ethnic” and have become internationalized as intrinsic constituent of a world shaped by the development of the West. Even the idea of “art” as a self-sufficient activity based on aesthetics, is also a product of Westernisation. The traditional art of other cultures, as well as that of the West from earlier eons, was a different type of creation, determined by functions of a religious, representational, or commemorative nature.

Is a Global Culture in the Making?

Perhaps the most popular and controversial of the debates about globalization has to do with the rise of a global culture. Actually, there are only a few scholars who maintain that a global culture is in the making. The idea goes back to Marshall McLuhan’s slippery concept of the “global village” (McLuhan 1964)

The global culture driven by symbols, images, and the aesthetic of the lifestyle and the self-image-has spread throughout the world and is having some momentous effects, including the standardization of tastes and desires, and even , anthropologist Arjun Appadurai (1996:4, 21) argues that “individuals and groups seek to annex the global into their own practices of the modern,” and that “consumption of the mass media worldwide provokes resistance, irony, selectivity, and, in general, agency.”

Some of the most persuasive arguments against the idea of the emergence of a global culture come from anthropologist Clifford Geertz. He observes that the world is “growing both more global and more divided, more thoroughly interconnected and more intricately partitioned at the same time […] Whatever it is that defines identity in borderless capitalism. And the global village it is not deep going agreements on deep going matters, but something more like the recurrence of familiar divisions, persisting arguments, standing threats, the notion that whatever else may happen, the order of difference must be somehow maintain (Geertz 1998:107-110). Like Geertz, sociologist Anthony Smith is skeptical, and notes an interesting “initial problem” with the concept of ‘global culture’: “Can we speak of ‘culture’ in the singular? If by ‘culture’ is meant a collective mode of life, or a repertoire of beliefs, styles, values and symbols, then we can only speak of cultures, never just culture; for a collective mode of life […] presupposes different modes and repertoires in a universe of modes and repertoires. Hence, the idea of a ‘global culture’ is a practical impossibility, except in interplanetary terms” (Smith 1990: 171).

However, I argue that this notion is wrong, and the global culture is not only in existence, but it is flourishing as well.


Local culture and social structure are now shaped by large and powerful commercial interests in ways that earlier anthropologists could not have imagined. Early anthropologists thought of societies and their cultures as fully independent systems. But today, many nations are multicultural societies, composed of numerous smaller subcultures. Cultures also cross national boundaries.

Some people fear a loss of cultural diversity as U.S. media companies become dominant. Such companies tend to “bundle” their products so that a blockbuster movie is promoted by selling soundtracks, books, video games, and other. However, the under- developed countries’ companies do not have such a control, even any sort of control over the market.

On the one hand, as world beat became a more visible feature of the international popular musical landscape in the late 1980s and early 1990s, popular music scholars began to analyze its economic and cultural implications. Most analyses focused on the inequalities characterizing the bilateral relationships between north and south and accused the industry of exploiting Third World cultural resources. Others were concerned about the potentially disastrous consequences of homogenization and westernization upon folk cultures being swept up in and transformed by what has been called global culture flows. The most trenchant critics also charged the world music industry with racism, for ignoring the harsh realities of economic and political subordination experienced by Third World peoples of color, and instead constructing images of cultural authenticity in order to satisfy the desires of northern whites safely to consume exotic otherness. More optimistic observers, for example, have suggested that the powerful forces of cultural and economic hegemony are being resisted by culturally and technologically savvy Third World musicians who are taking control of the production of their own music, revitalizing local musical traditions by modernizing them. Furthermore, the international popular musical landscape, so long dominated by U.S. and European pop and rock, has unquestionably been diversified and enriched by the increased circulation of musics from multiple locations around the globe.

To better understand the national and global linkages, Some observers would argue that it is inappropriate to distinguish “Afro-Brazilian” from “Brazilian” music, since black expressive cultures have contributed so profoundly to what is understood to be national culture. Perhaps no other artistic field in Brazil has been so deeply influenced by black cultures than popular music. Nevertheless, it is useful and necessary to identify distinct styles and movements in Brazilian popular music that are associated particularly with black urban communities. The past 20 years have seen the proliferation of Afro-Brazilian social, political, and cultural movements that explicitly reject the traditional belief in a unitary “national culture”. Yet, for the most part, contemporary Afro-Brazilian musical countercultures continue to be racially inclusive. An increasingly globalized world economy has intensified the influx of African and diasporic musical cultures, particularly from the United States and Jamaica, to major Brazilian cities. These forms of music and their attendant cultural styles, modes of dress, and dance steps have been widely appropriated and transformed by young urban Brazilians. Several broad currents in contemporary Afro-Brazilian music may be identified: contemporary samba, soul/funk/hip-hop, reggae, axé music, and mangue beat. (See, Encarta)

Another example of globalised music culture Samba emerged in the 20th century as the preeminent national music of Brazil. Modern urban samba was developed in the predominantly black favelas (shantytowns) on the morros (hills) of Rio de Janeiro, and now globalised. In addition to music, there are plethora of dancing style,


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