World cultures have never before been more integrated than they are today.
The word we give this impossibly complex concept is:
Arjun Appadurai, in “Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization” attempts to categorise aspects of globalisation into ‘scapes’:
- Technoscapes: involves the high speed at which information now travels globally.
- Mediascapes: increasing electronic capabilities to produce and receive information.
- Ethnoscapes: involves the shifting landscapes of people, and how this has altered global politics.
- Financescapes: the global flow of capital.
- Ideoscapes: the increasingly interrelated landscape of images.
Is gloablisation a good thing? Unfortunately, this is not easily answered. Michael O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler, in “Media and Society”, talk of ‘utopian‘ and ‘dystopian’ views.
This video represents a dystopian (if comical) view of globalisation:
The baseline here though is that globalisation has not affected everyone equally. So, for some people, such as myself, globalisation’s benefits far outweigh its disadvantages. However, those affected by shifting labour needs and increased environmental destruction may feel differently.
For me, globalisation means I get to listen to Mumford and Sons, and watch Robert Downey Jr be Iron Man. I can eat fruit even when it’s out of season, and buy cheaper clothes. All in all, I think I’ve got a pretty good deal. However Appadurai talks of the homogenisation of culture, and in particular, Americanisation. If you watch this video titled “Coca-Colonization“, you begin to realise that there is a risk that, when cultures become intertwined, some may be eclipsed by others.
Companies like Coca Cola, McDonalds and Disney have ENORMOUS global influence. I live in Australia and yet I eat regularly at McDonalds with my friends, and grew up watching the Lion King. Is the imposition of American values upon all other cultures right?
In addition, racism still exists within Australia against indigenous people. Adam Goodes’ was recently insulted during a game, called ‘an ape’. If even within our own country there is tension between different cultures, how on earth is an integrated world going to be successful?
In all honesty, I think the sharing of cultures is a positive thing. There are undeniably problems. Nike sweatshops, excessive deforestation, continued racism and a widening gap between the rich and the poor are all concerning. However, the further globalisation continues, the more likely we are to be able to deal with these issues.
Globalisation owes heavily to increased communication capabilities. This means we know increasingly more about what happens in other parts of the world. Despite large media conglomerates forming, there are still other outlets for people to get information, such as Al Jazeera and Wikileaks. There is accountability that didn’t exist before.
It is also difficult to argue that America completely eclipses other cultures that are exposed to it. I consume many American commodities, but not exclusively. I enjoy many BBC programs, and listen to Of Monsters and Men, as well as Australian television and bands.
In a nutshell, globalisation, like everything, has a dark side. It also has many benefits.
Like it or not, it’s here to stay…
Appadurai, A 1996, ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Economy,’ Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization’, Minneapolis and London: University of Minesota Press, pp. 27-47.
O’Shaughnessy, M and Stadler, J 2008, ‘Globalisation’, Media and Society (fifth edition), Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 458-471.