This article focuses on the globalization of culture and the role of media in the ensuing identity crisis (both individual and social) resulting from this process. The article tries to display the basic concept of the process of globalization with all of its effects, threats, challenges?and opportunities and will illustrate its interaction with the media in developing countries. The essay will show that the main components of power structure in today’s world can be linked to these two complimentary processes –globalization and the information era.
The interaction between these two phenomena has changed the quality of communications which, in turn, is creating new personal and social identities (personification and personifying). According to survey results, it is clear that in societies which are not efficient in reinforcing and strengthening their communication infrastructures and which are unable to compete with the new methods of communication and information exchange, identity formation gains political, economic and culturally adverse and asserts an unrepairable damage.
In conclusion, the article tries to present some proposals for developing countries’ media –as the active player of this era – and offers ways to deal with the unavoidable process of globalization and identity crisis.
Globalization, the New Phenomenon
Globalization, which also has been called global construction, global orientation and global expansion by various schools of thought, is the latest phase process in an old process rooted in the expansion of modern capitalism and encompassing the political, economic and cultural realms worldwide. Modern capitalism that first emerged in the sixteenth century is a far more complex phenomenon embracing a broader economic spectrum and a more detailed definition than the concept of common market. Thus, some experts view it as “contraction and condensation at the global scale coupled with ever-increasing expansion of awareness” (Robertson, 1992, p. 8).
Many have expressed different and even contradictory definitions of globalization in their discussions over the past few years. According to British sociologist Anthony Giddens, some social sectors are utterly pessimistic about globalization and reject it in its entirety. On the other hand, there are those who perceive globalization as an undeniable reality with profound and inevitable consequences.
Yet there are others, who are generally referred to as Global Expansionists. They view globalization as an inescapable development developing ever-increasing momentum due to the intensification of global interactions and the waning importance of national boundaries. They believe that national economies, cultures and policies will integrate into a global network and that local and national authority and hence dominance will diminish in favor of a homogenous global economy and culture (Held, 2000).
On the other side of the spectrum, there are opposing arguments against the virtues of globalization. Giddens (1999b) refers to them as the pessimists, and they include a gamut of those from the traditionalists to those challenging the dominance of capitalism. They perceive globalization as synonymous to westernization and Americanization. They even include the environmentalists.
This school of thought argues that globalization will create a world of winners and losers along with the global conquest and economic domination of specific political groups, especially in the wealthy nations like the U.S. These groups are strong enough to resist any pressures to alter the new world-order and could impose their desires and goals as global agendas and work plans. The promoters of this school of thought point out to the waning
of national sovereignty and local identity and the eventual prevalence of inequality and injustice in the world (Rupert, 2000).
Meanwhile, some dispute the idea of the “global village” introduced by Marshall McLuhan and envision more of a “global pillaging” for the underdeveloped countries (Held, 2000, p. 25). There are other theoreticians who dispute this widely held view. For example, Giddens challenges this prospect and believes that the wealthy should not be blamed for all the negative aspects of this phenomenon, which actually is to some extent very similar to the westernization process. However, globalization is becoming ever-increasingly decentralized and thus it is not dominated by a certain group of countries or multinational companies. Even the western countries are being affected by this new trend. There is increasing evidence of Inverted Colonialism. Inverted Colonialism could be defined as the impact of non-western countries on the development of western culture and economy (Giddens, 1999a). According to Giddens not only is globalization a novel experience, it is a revolutionary phenomenon. In addition to its economic consequences, its political, technological and cultural impact can not be underestimated. More than anything, globalization is influenced by the advancement of communication systems.
In the middle of these two extreme positions, there is a third opinion, which is called “transformationalism.” This perspective gives limited importance to globalization and emphasizes the significance of national and local institutions (Mirabedini, 2001, p. 147). This third view does not condemn the whole of globalization and praises its positive aspects. These scholars note that although globalization imposes a great deal of pressure on local economies and cultures, it is possible to transform this threat into an opportunity, thereby resisting being conquered by it.
Based on this viewpoint, the leaders of the world would support the notion of democratization of global institutions; and nations could play a decisive role in the policymaking process under the framework of the new world order and solidify their territorial rights and legitimacy (Held, 2000). The acceptance of this notion is reflected in the response of former French Premier Leonel Jospin on the issue of France’s national identity in the globalization process. He said, “We will do our best to make globalization an internal and endemic process in compliance and harmony with our way of life.”
He argued that “The course this globalization process takes will depend on the action we take in relation to it, because although globalization is a fact, it is not an end in itself. We must bring it under control if we are to enjoy its benefits and prevent its negative aspects” (Jospin, 2001). It can thus be concluded that the present range of opinions on globalization, differs from the definition of capital expansion of the 16th century. In this sense it is a new concept based on the ever-increasing time-space compression and the enhancement of public knowledge and awareness due to the profound alteration in communication systems and its immense impact on economic, political and cultural trends.
It can be stated fairly that “Globalization is a complex phenomenon, marked by two opposing forces. On the one hand, it is characterized by massive economic expansion and technological innovation. On the other hand, there is increased inequality, cultural and social tumult, and individual alienation” (Mowlana, 1998, p. 22). Globalization of Culture and Identity in the Information Era On the subject of globalization, the most controversial debate is raised on the issue of cultural globalization and its main topic, the “identity crisis” and the role of mass media as a facilitating tool for its expansion or limitation.
The notion of cultural globalization has prompted various reactions, reflecting contradictory implications. Some perceive this phenomenon as an instrument for establishment of universal unity and democracy based on a global culture signified as the “global village.” According to the principles of McLuhan (1968, 1964), this is due to the expansion of new communication systems. However, others disagree and contend that globalization has not resulted in a unified political and economic identity (Rajaei, 2001). In contrast, cultural globalization has destroyed national identities. Fukuyama challenges the idea of cultural globalization. He argues that despite external economic pressures, societies tend to preserve their individual identities and cultural values eventually determine the economic direction of the countries. This doesn’t mean that societies will not be impacted by the globalization trend. However, there are more profound elements in national cultures, which resist the uniformity derived from economic and political ideologies.
Critics argue that cultural globalization will result in cultural dominance and supremacy. The deterioration of endemic cultures will be replaced with a universal culture promoting excessive consumption and dominance of the economic and information technology powers of the world.
These scholars believe that the western world is unfit to provide a suitable response to cultural globalization. This is because it is being challenged by numerous social and cultural predicaments, itself.
Tomlinson, one of the world-class theorists says: “The cultural globalization that we are witnessing today is not the net result of human endeavors and experiences and even it has not equitably benefited from cultural diversities. Rather it is the manifestation of dominance of a certain overpowering culture” (Skelton & Allen, 1999, p. 23). These researchers emphasize that the efforts made to conform to the aggressive culture or interpret western culture in various parts of the world have had disastrous results and have revealed insurmountable cultural gaps. Thus, it is impossible to create a global culture with this procedure, and it only widens the existing gap between cultures.
Doubtless, globalization has affected certain values rooted in major religions and cultures of the world. Concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, individualism and pluralism, individual interaction with the society and the very meaning of life are all warped and corrupted by global capitalism, international markets, mass media and the promotion of excessive consumption. Even some local languages and valuable traditions are on the verge of disappearance as the result of globalization. Global consumerism is now forming a homogeneous global culture where indigenous cultures of the South are being replaced by Western cultures (Muzaffar, 2002).
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Effects of Globalization Towards Our Culture. (2016, Dec 14). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/effects-of-globalization-towards-our-culture-essay