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In the 21st century, economic globalization has finally become an irresistible reality. Information, technology, goods, people, especially monetary capital are frequently exchanging worldwide unprecedentedly. The development and expansion of markets have effectively broken through the national, ethnic, cultural customs and ideological boundaries (Fairweather & Rogerson 2003). From multinationals, satellite TV, Internet to McDonald’s, Mercedes-Benz cars, cartoons, various cultures are now crossing huge distance and national borders, more densely implanted in different countries, and finally resulting in the phenomenon of cultural homogenisation. This essay is going to discuss whether globalisation implies cultural homogenisation, which will mainly focus on the role that global media has played in causing this phenomenon. To better understanding whether globalisation could lead to cultural homogenisation, this essay is about to define globalisation first.
More specifically, globalisation is a terminology in economics, and scholars have three main kinds of explanation for globalisation: the first is that globalisation is Westernisation or Americanisation (Appadurai 2001), the second is that globalisation is the worldwide optimising allocation of economic and technical resources (McChesney 2001); and the third is that globalisation is to solve global problems such as environmental pollution, population explosion, drugs proliferation and transnational crimes, etc. (Mehlika 2013). In this essay, the meaning of globalisation is referred to the second explanation. When it comes to the effects of globalisation, it could be seen in various aspects, and living space of people has been associated with the world as a whole. For instance, London’s stock market or the European Football League is not a regional event, shockwave of these events quickly spread to every corner of the globe (Mehlika 2013). “Global village” is a more realistic word to describe the current world (Appadurai 2001). No matter international relations, political interests, social wealth distribution, cultural homogenisation or everyday life, globalisation has shown their significant role in those fields, and has contributed to profound consequences. Cultural homogenisation, which could be expressed as one of the significant impacts of cultural globalization, that is local unique cultures all over the local culture will tend to become a single global culture, contributing to different lifestyles, values ??and beliefs of differing ethnics and communities are becoming increasingly similar (Mihailidis & Moeller 2010,).
According to the view of Marxist (Mehlika 2013), the economic base determines the superstructure; economic and cultural globalization inextricably has linked and influenced each other. With the impact of the trend of globalisation, previously diversified culture has been influenced by the stronger culture and fashionable trend which are normally propagated by global commercial media system (McChesney 2001). In addition, McChesney (2001) holds the view that economic and cultural globalization arguably would be impossible without a global commercial media system to promote global markets and to encourage consumer values. Therefore, this essay believe that global media has played a crucial role in the development of globalisation and cultural homogenisation, and the following part of this article will mainly focus on the how global media has impacts on cultural homogenisation. At present, when reading newspapers or magazines, or turning on the TV, a confusing phenomenon could be the homogenisation of media culture, and sometimes similar entertaining programs could be seen in dozens of TV channels. Homogenization of media culture is very fast, often like a plague epidemic (Jan 2009). For example, a popular talent show called American Idol in the U.S. had a new name in China called Chinese Idol, which completely copied the main contents of American Idol.
In addition, the successfulness of open copy experience has immediately provoked a chain reaction, almost all the local TV stations are following this trend, for a time, from national TV station (CCTV) to the local ones, and more than ten similar talent shows hurriedly came out. Another example is the Quiz Millionaire, this TV show has numerous versions in China, such as Happy Dictionary, Lucky 52, and so on. And there are various other TV programs in China are just Chinese version of famous TV programs around the world. In terms of the homogenisation of media culture, what most people may consider first is to criticize the lack of creativity of TV people or media workers. However, to explore further, more problems will involve in this problem. That is the globalisation of commercial media will unavoidably lead to the homogenisation of different cultures (McChesney 2001). A problem that may be ignored is the convergent environment of media. More specifically, people tend to accept the fact of the homogenization of economic life; however, it is difficult to accept the homogenization of culture. The majority people still hold the view that different cultures should own their unique national, ethnic, and local characteristics (Fairweather, & Rogerson 2003).
In other words, individuals could drive multinational or foreign designed automobiles, wear foreign produced perfume, but should remain vigilant when enjoy foreign films and television programs or other cultural products (Dumas, et al. 2010). However, little do these people know that the production mode of the media culture determines the globalisation of it, especially since the mid-twentieth century , new media and new media culture comes along with it, are emerging and developing in the international environment with relatively frequent exchanges (Appadurai 2000). That is to say, what we call the media culture of today is not entirely follow the traditional method that brought to the global market after its completion in certain developed countries, but gradually generated in the broader context of international exchanges which are contributed by the modern commercial media system (McChesney 2001). Taking the Hollywood films as an example, it is totally different form what it was half a century ago. Today’s Hollywood has a broader global context; its creators and performers are white, black or yellow from Europe, Asia or Oceania and other regions around the world.
Additionally, technical means or electronic producing technologies of Hollywood films are also the most advanced, regardless of the technology are coming from the United States or from other countries. Another example could be the footboard culture, before the Western football culture was introduced to China, China does not have similar local cultural phenomenon about football. Because there is no similar local media environment of football in China, the popularity of football media culture in China is not resulting from the public choosing the Western media culture in the competition with local media culture (just like choose the team which that is liked best), but the decision has been make before individuals have the right to choose, or that the decision is made by the convergent media environment (Jan 2009). For the football culture in china, it is either existing or not existing; and once it exists, it would be derived from western culture. Here, the most difficult to imagine is the development of China’s own local football culture. The development of culture cannot be delimited and designated by people in a relatively closed space (Bredin 2009).
In other words, culture is not static, but dynamic, and acquiring development in the exchanges and communication with other cultures. Ethnic and local cultural could be regarded as closed culture in certain degree, but only with respect to the degree of globalisation and internationalisation (Bredin 2009). In fact any so-called ethnically local culture cannot grow in a completely closed environment, just like running water is never stale, any viable culture must obtain nutrients and support in the exchanges and communications with other cultures (Bredin 2009). For example, Chinese culture, which originated in the Yellow River Basin, but in the long years later, it is in contact with the south Chu culture and western culture it becomes vibrant. People may be sceptical for the single origin of Chinese culture, but they will not deny that the development and prosperity of Chinese culture is owing to the time after time collision and exchanges with other cultures. Cultural homogenisation may emerge during the exchanges and collision, which contains various types of convergence of this case (Fairweather, B & Rogerson, S 2003). For instance, some cultures could be complementing each other’s advantages.
Additionally, there are weak cultures naturalised by the dominant culture, as well as the repression of strong cultural to weak culture. Besides, there are also new cultures created in the collision and interaction of differing cultures. All these situations discussed above exist in the development of today’s media culture; however, the convergence of media culture is obvious more than ever of any age. Here, admirations should be given to McLuhan’s prophecy of “earth village”, his conclusion was drawn from “media is the message”, rather than deduced from the globalisation of capital and markets (Jan 2009). Moreover, perhaps another deduction could be made that the globalisation of capital and markets are also a result caused by the modern media system in some degree. Besides, as what has been discussed above, global media will also contribute to cultural homogenisation. In fact, media culture reflect the conformity or group psychology of individuals, it could absorb essence and advantages from other cultures, and then turn into a form of global media culture. Therefore, from what has been discussed above, in order to find out whether the globalisation implies cultural homogenisation, this essay has made the following discussions.
On the one hand, the globalisation is an economic term which is promoted by global commercial media system. On the other hand, various studies has found out that it is the global media commercial media system that promoted the convergence of the media culture, and influence the national, ethnic and local culture through media values. Nowadays, individuals are deeply influenced by the wide broadcasted media systems, thus, more and more people have the tendency to pursue the latest fashionable elements, or other items to keep up with the time. Moreover, According to Appadurai (2001), the globalisation of culture is no the same as its homogenisation, however, globalisation involves the use of a variety of instruments of homogenisation. This also indicates that it is not the globalisation that completely leads to the cultural homogenisation. Cultural homogenisation is more likely to be regarded as a coexistence with the globalisation, which are caused by the increasingly homogeneous commercial media system. In conclusion, in order to investigate the relationship between globalisation and cultural homogenisation, and get a better understanding of both these items. This essay has defined the meaning globalisation and cultural homogenisation based on the previous studies.
Moreover, this article has discussed the emergency and development of cultural homogenisation, and then finds out that the global commercial media system has played a vital role in causing this phenomenon. The following parts of the essay discussed the how the global media culture is formed and its impacts on the result of cultural homogenisation. Finally, this essay hold the view that, the fact of globalisation does not completely imply the emergency of cultural homogenisation, however, it is the increasingly homogeneous global commercial media system that plays a more important role in both causing the globalisation and cultural homogenisation.
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