Globalization Effects on Countries’ Cultures

Introduction

The effects of globalization are apparently becoming unstoppable, touching almost every aspect of the everyday life of people in all countries (Chiu, Gries and Torelli 663-676; Doku and Asante 1-8). A key area that is extensively being affected by globalization is the countries’ cultures.

It is imperative to note that before the wake of globalization, and in a considerable part of human history and prehistory, cultures in many parts of the world were shaped by local geography, kinship, and social organizations within the confines of regional boundaries (Doku and Asante 1-8; Chiu, Gries and Torelli 663-676).

However, recent developments (especially the new media, the internet, and improved transportation systems) have brought drastic changes where human life is increasingly being influenced by global networks of relationships (Srivastava and Khan 18-23; Chen 1-10). Globalization, therefore, is influencing the youth, families, and cultural systems in almost every region and country in the world (Chiu, Gries, and Torelli).

This paper demonstrates the effects of globalization on cultures giving examples from different countries and from diverse global regions using secondary research materials (similar to the case of Srivastava and Khan).

Literature Review

Numerous literature materials that endeavor to demonstrate the effects of globalization on countries’ cultures have been made available. It is worth noting that most of the research materials are country/region-based. As such, the effects of globalization are studied in specific regions or countries. Nevertheless, some articles are somewhat general and they discuss the effects of globalization without dealing with specific countries.

Srivastava and Khan acknowledged that globalization has numerous effects, especially negative impacts, in the social sphere. As such, many scholars, researchers, and other pertinent stakeholders have the opinion that globalization should be “viewed in a pessimistic light” (Srivastava and Khan 18) since most of its effects, including the destruction of culture, hegemony, and adopting negative aspects of the superior culture, are undesirable and detrimental to the local culture (Srivastava and Khan 18-23).

Using secondary data, Srivastava and Khan found that globalization has greatly influenced Indian culture. They noted that prior to globalization, culture in India was somewhat static, but it has drastically been transformed, especially since the early 90s when India adopted the SAP (Structural Adjustment Program) following the issuance of financial aid from IMF and the World Bank (Srivastava and Khan 18-23).

One of the most extensive changes (resulting from globalization) in Indian culture is the social and family restructuring. For instance, many families have moved away from living together in the traditional joint and/or extended families to nuclear families. Moreover, views on marriage and kinship have drastically been transformed to reflect the western ways (Srivastava and Khan 18-23).

Another aspect of cultural change in India is the traditional bazaar culture where previously customers, especially women, would shop for household goods from specific retailers (Srivastava and Khan 18-23). It is worth noting that the particular shops from which the women would make their purchases were highly regarded and treated as family shops (Srivastava and Khan 18-23).

However, globalization has internationalized trade and, therefore, international brands and the manner of shopping has changed the consumer culture in India. Specifically, the bazaar culture has been replaced by the mall culture, which is preferred since it is relatively more efficient and with more products and services under one roof (Srivastava and Khan 18-23).

Lastly, it was evident that globalization has resulted in the emergence of a global culture, which pertains the westernization and is characterized by changes in politics and leadership (democratization), regionalism, consumerism, creolization, and cultural relativism/authenticity (Srivastava and Khan 18-23).

Relying on previous publications and empirical research, Chiu, Gries, and Torelli asserted that globalization results in increased “frequency and intensity of exposure to other cultures (Chiu, Gries, and Torelli 666).

There are interchanges and interactions in local and foreign cultures due to the apparent compression of time and space. Local citizens are exposed to local culture in the same magnitude and intensity as they are exposed to foreign cultures (Chiu, Gries, and Torelli 663-676).

The authors gave two views on the effects of exposure to foreign cultures. First, there are worldviews that depict the effect of globalization on countries’ ways of life in a positive manner. Pundits putting forward this view suggest that globalization and exposure to foreign cultures are intensely enriching and they result in positive mind-opening and enlightening experiences to local people (Chiu, Gries, and Torelli 663-676).

Moreover, globalization can result in the rejuvenation and the reigniting of the local culture in the attempt to counter-cultural hegemony and imperialism (Chiu, Gries, and Torelli 663-676).

Some of the positive effects include:

  • Democratization and sensitization of human rights;
  • Exchange of cultural ideas;
  • Eliminating stereotypes and cultural barriers and promoting cultural diffusion;
  • Acknowledging and appreciating other cultures.

Second, there are experts who hold the view that globalization has negative effects on local cultures. They fear that westernization and globalization may result in cultural hegemony and the weaker culture submitting to the dominant culture (Chiu, Gries, and Torelli 663-676).

Some of the negative effects of globalization on the local culture include:

  • Negative elements of western culture;
  • Culture-centric xenophobia and terrorism;
  • Contamination;
  • Cultural erosion.

Doku and Asante noted that it would be incorrect to assume that the effects of globalization are limited to economic and political arenas (Doku and Asante 1-8). As such, they proposed that globalization has homogenizing influences and it is likely to have positive and negative influences on countries with non-dominant cultures.

Moreover, globalization encourages global integration and the eradication of negative aspects of culture (Doku and Asante 1-8). It is, therefore, almost impossible for a culture of a certain country to avoid borrowing values, morals, skills, and competencies from the other parts of the world.

Globalization has resulted in stripping away cultural identity and restructuring the way people interact in the local context. For instance, instead of using the traditional fireside meetings, family members from Africa can use the internet to interact (Doku and Asante 1-8).

Further, globalization is highly influencing language and communication. Countries that are considered to have a weaker culture are embracing the languages and communication means of the countries with major culture. Africans have rich local languages and means of communication, but globalization has replaced their languages with major languages such as English and French (Doku and Asante 1-8). Lastly, globalization has resulted in the diminishing of the African religion where Christianity, Islam, and other major religions are more acceptable (Doku and Asante 1-8).

Magu recognized that it is generally agreed among scholars that the quickly accelerating globalization is not only affecting the socio-economic and political arenas but also influencing culture and cultural studies (Magu 630–645).

It is apparent that westernization and Americanization, which are traditionally associated with globalization, are increasingly influencing the ways of life of many countries throughout the world. Some of the visible effects of westernization include consumerism and obfuscating local cultures. As such, local cultures are willingly adopting the ideological and technological innovations from other regions, especially countries with dominant culture (Magu 630–645).

However, the author brings in a new twist to the globalization and local culture relationship by negating the popular view that culture is a “victim” of globalization. Rather, culture is portrayed as the integrator of globalization. As such, culture can choose what to pick from westernization and Americanization (Magu 630–645).

To reinforce this view, it is imperative to consider the case of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica cultures not giving in to westernization and globalization in some aspects such as consumer behavior (Spiers, Gundala, and Singh 92-99). A study by Spiers, Gundala, and Singh, which was aimed at investigating the impact of culture on consumer behavior, revealed that consumers in the two countries have not been significantly affected by globalization.

Discussion

Culture is an important aspect of any society. Other than bringing members of a particular country together, culture gives the members of the country a sense of identity. Moreover, cultural diversity has been a vital element of humanity for a long time in history (De Beukelaer, Pyykkönen, and Singh; Doku and Asante 1-8).

It is imperative to note that environments have considerable levels of influence to any human culture. Before globalization, environments within local geographical regions influenced many cultures (Doku and Asante 1-8; Chiu, Gries, and Torelli 663-676).

Nonetheless, globalization has reduced the time and distance between a particular country and other regions of the globe (Chen 1-10; Magu 630–645; Spiers, Gundala and Singh 92-99; Srivastava and Khan 18-23). As such, the local boundaries and the local regions no longer limit the environment under which culture is experienced. As a result, local and foreign cultures are experienced in equal measures. The exposure to foreign and global cultures has numerous effects on the local culture (Doku and Asante 1-8).

Pundits and scholars have divided the many influencing factors of the foreign and global culture into positive and negative influences. Positive influences include eradication of negative elements of the local culture, elimination of cross-cultural prejudice, democratization, and sensitization for human rights, and promoting culture diffusion and exchange of ideas (Doku and Asante 1-8).

On the other hand, negative influences include threatening the existence of the local culture, transferring of negative elements of the foreign global culture into the local culture, loss of country’s identity and cultural erosion among others (Doku and Asante 1-8; Magu 630–645; Chiu, Gries and Torelli 663-676).

Conclusion

This paper is based on the argument that globalization influences the culture of a particular country in both positive and negative manners. It is apparent that globalization has made it easy and fast for human beings from all over the world to interact. A person from one end of the globe can communicate and interact with a person living in a different region. Moreover, the new media and the internet have made the interaction and exchange of cultures among people from different regions possible.

The literature used in this paper indicates that both pessimistic and optimistic views are held about the effects of globalization on local culture. While the pessimistic authors put forward the negative influences, optimistic scholars portray globalization in a positive light.

Works Cited

Chen, Guo-Ming. “The Impact of New Media on Intercultural Communication in Global Context.” China Media Reseach, vol. 8, no. 2, 2012, pp. 1-10.

Chiu, Chi-yue, Gries P, Torelli C J, and Cheng S Y. “Toward a Social Psychology of Globalization.” Journal of Social Issues, vol. 67, no. 4, 2011, pp. 663-676.

De Beukelaer, Christiaan, M Pyykkönen and J Singh. Globalization, Culture, and Development. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2015.

Doku, Paul Narh and Kwaku Oppong Asante. “Identity: Globalization, culture and psychological ln functioning.” International Journal of Human Sciences, 2011, pp. 1-8.

Magu, Stephen. “Reconceptualizing Cultural Globalization: Connecting the “Cultural Global” and the “Cultural Local”.” Social Sciences, vol. 4, 2015, pp. 630–645.

Spiers, Sherrard, Raghava, R Gundala and Mandeep Singh. “Culture and Consumer Behavior—A Study of Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica.” International Journal of Marketing Studies, vol. 6, no. 4, 2014, pp. 92-99.

Srivastava, Shobhit and Altamash Khan. “Globalization and Development in Contemporary India: Cultural Perspective.” International Journal of Social Science Studies, vol. 4, no. 3, 2016, pp. 18-23.