It’s fascinating to think that a song I’m listening to now or the film I saw last week could be playing somewhere else on the other side of the planet. Where cultural traditions, can be explored in many new places. I was once told that the best Indian curry could be eaten in England and that one of the largest populations of practices of the Jewish faith are found in New York.
It’s no secret that the landscape of communication has been expanding and international interaction is easier than ever. Since the technological advances of the 1800’s Globalisation has accelerated and in today’s digital age cultural barriers have been blurred (Appudurai, 1996, p28). The media is a platform providing us access to a global stage.
But we need to ask ourselves is all this global communicating bringing the world closer together in a multicultural light or creating a homogenised world drenched in western consumerism?
The Utopian perspective: Marshall McLuhan’s theory of “the Global village” has been considered too simplistic in terms of globalisation (Appudurai, 1996, p29). The fact of the matter is, increased global communication and relations will not result in everyone on the planet holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.” (As nice as that sounds.)
In fact, it is debated that globalisation has been a catalyst for global division rather than cohesion. Western influence has resulted in fragmentation and the categorisation of peoples. For example, 2005 United Nations Human Development Report revealed “the gap between the richest and poorest has worsened,” despite economic productivity doubling in the past decade (O’Shaunessy et al, 2008, p464).
An Al Jazeera report yesterday, Globalisation linked to Rash of Food Scares, highlighted a negative effect of global reliance on food exports. The article states “Because of globalisation, food products … can go through a long chain of food suppliers that often spans continents.” (Ahmed, 2013). Concerns raised in the article of the exploitation of low wage workers in foreign countries with working conditions lacking correct sanitation for food production are highlighted as negative effects of globalisation.
However, with global media coverage of such issues and concerns, initiatives and awareness would not exist to deal with them. Even reports of natural disasters such as 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami inspired international aid programs. Therefore demonstrating globalisation leads to international cooperation when it comes to dealing with causes for concern. (O’Shaughnessy et al, 2008, p461)
Global recognition of brands like McDonald’s and Nike and the international reach of Hollywood films and western Pop music are feared as cultural imperialistic tools that may jeopardise indigenous and cultural traditions (O’Shaughnessy et al, 2008, p465). No doubt these products of western culture have worldwide reach and are internationally recognised but more than ever before international cultural traditions are brought to the forefront of people’s minds – especially due to the internet.
Nowadays, it seems a world without globalisation is unimaginable. It’s essential for fostering global economics, education and democracy. With it, we can say we have become more internationally savvy. It’s difficult to evaluate globalisation as either positive or negative, but it characterises the world in which we live and we are exposed to its effects every single day.
Appudurai, A (1996) ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy’ Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 28-29
O’Shaughnessy, M and Stadler, J (2008) ‘Globalisation’ Media and Society (fifth edition) Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 461, 464-465