According to The Levine Institute (2013), the term globalization can be defined as “a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies, and governments of different nations.” Globalization and modernization have been occurring for thousands of years around the world. This can be further explained as the influence that modern nations have on non-developed nations and cultures. The influences that modern nations have can either be related to direct or indirect contact. Both globalization and modernization can have positive and negative impacts on cultural practices. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effects of globalization on native non-Western cultural practices.
Some examples of globalization on native non-Western cultural practices include the influence of cable television in India, the booming commerce in China, and the factor that globalization has played in South Korea’s growth and economic success. While some have had success and felt positive economic effects of globalization, the influence of television in India may have negatively impacted the previously religious and spiritual cultural that existed before the globalization period. This cultural shift in India was influenced partially by the World Trade Organization. The World Trade Organization assisted in lowering import taxes which allowed India to economically benefit by being able to produce products at a much reduced price for the American consumers.
The cultural in India significantly changed during this period and while it was previously uncommon to see unrelated women and men living together before the economic shift, it is currently common practice. The economic shift that was directed related to globalization may have also been responsible for unintentionally influencing an increase in violence over the past decade. Another example of globalization takes place in Japan. When McDonald’s restaurant first came to Japan in May 1971, a phenomenon was created by introducing the concept of Western “fast food” to a foreign country (Chang, 2011). Before the introduction of McDonald’s, Japan cultural had centered on family food preparation and rituals, such as obento.
Obento is prepared by Japanese mothers and “The tradition becomes part of the social education of both parent and child and creates a connection between home and school for a youngster’s earliest forays away from family” (Gordon, 2005). Japanese mothers would spend nearly an hour crafting the elaborate obento for their child to take to school every day. Teachers would judge the obento and ensure that specific rules were followed during the crafting of the meal, such as the food being as handmade as possible, appetizing, and aesthetically appealing (Gordon, 2005).
In Japan, obento symbolized the mother’s responsibility to food preparation and a child’s responsibility to education. The introduction of McDonald’s took some time to spread in Japan but cleaver marketing strategies aided in changing the face of fast food. According to Chang (2011), “McDonald’s marketed as a stylish place to go to with family and friends. They have also included special menus for Japanese customers such as American regional burgers and teriyaki burgers.” McDonald’s also added a variety of unique toys that were specific to the Japanese culture in kid’s happy meals. Since the introduction of fast food, Japan’s obesity rates have risen tremendously.
The director of the Drug Discovery Research Center at Kyoto University, Gozoh Tsujimoto, blames Westernized fast food for Japanese obesity rates rising threefold from 1962 to 2002 (Hooper, 2012). Tsujimoto attributes the 20% Japanese obesity rating related to “Lifestyle factors have become Westernized. Especially, food has become Westernized – and mainly high-calorie and high fat” (Hooper, 2012). McDonald’s now has over 3,300 restaurants in Japan, which is the largest number of stores outside of the United States (Chang, 2011). In addition to obesity and food preparation practices, the introduction of fast food in Japan has also caused a large increase in the consumption of red meat.
The older and younger generations in Japan responded differently to the influence of fast food. The older generations continue to eat at home more often, however, the younger generations continue to eat out more and they have shown an increase in health issues, such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome (Hooper, 2012). While some professionals continue to blame the direct influence of Westernization for these unintentional health concerns, globalization is unavoidable and can impact a culture both positively and negatively. Japan has positively benefitted from globalization in ways of technological advances and automobiles but perhaps was negatively affected by the phenomenon of fast food.
Globalization is controversial. According to The Levine Institute (2013), “Proponents of globalization argue that it allows poor countries and their citizens to develop economically and raise their standards of living.” Globalization in India greatly helped the economy but perhaps hurt the values of the cultural. However, opponents of globalization argue “that the creation of an unfettered international free market has benefited multinational corporations in the Western world at the expense of local enterprises, local cultures, and common people” (The Levine Institute, 2013). Globalization is affected by many variables such as age, family, religion, and technology. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, direct or indirect, planned or not planned, finding the right balance to provide positive effects is difficult.
Chang, S. (2011). McDonald’s in Japan. Retrieved from http://apanews.si.edu/2011/09/20/mcdonalds-in-japan/ Gordon, M. (2005). Obento. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/opb/meaningoffood/food_and_family/obento/ Hooper, R. (2012). Obesity on the rise as Japanese eat more Western-style food. Retrieved from http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2012/03/11/national/obesity-on-the-rise-as-japanese-eat-more-western-style-food/#.UmFqEvlJN1I The Levin Institute. (2013). What is globalization? Retrieved from http://www.globalization101.org/what-is-globalization
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