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Counterreactions to Globalisation in Local Culture Essay

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Introduction

From the cultural context, globalisation has traversed people’s ideas, values, and attitudes across all national borders. Advocates of globalisation regard the sharing of ideas in the global front as having the capacity to promote interconnectedness and interaction of people’s cultural affiliations and ways of life (Holton 1998; Waters 2001). The process of the massive transfer of values, ideas, and meanings across territorial boundaries is initiated by the spread of ideologies and commodities across national boundaries. These commodities and ideologies are then standardised all over the world. Tomlinson (1999) believes that globalisation promotes cultural diversity whilst improving human rights and cultural rights. However, some scholars such as Imre (2009) have raised queries concerning globalisation in terms of its capacity to safeguard cultural diversity and a common humanity. In this context, Ghosh (2011) sees globalisation as both an adoption and rejection. It has to do with the aspects of homogenisation and the spread of cultural diversities.

In response to the question of whether globalisation fosters cultural understanding, the current research deploys secondary sources of data to analyse the effects of globalisation on local cultures. It hypothesises that minority groups and developing nations’ local cultures are largely influenced by cultural globalisation. The significance of this study relates to the need for harmonious cultural pluralism and/or the cultivation of intercultural citizenship. These elements are among the critical factors that make it possible to bring people together, despite their differences in their extent of reaping from globalisation (Tomlinson 1999). With a solid foundation of the protection of international human rights, globalisation can help in accelerating the growth of cultural diversity and respect for plurality. By looking into the case in African countries and analysis of local responses, this paper will discuss the actualities of the process of globalisation and its impact on international understanding and cultural integration.

Theoretical Context/Background

Scholars such as Tong and Lin (2011) and Griswold (2004) see globalisation as an inevitable phenomenon based on its role in local cultures. Globalisation constitutes an important issue that cannot be neglected since it has largely affected people’s lives in every way. Elements of globalisation include ‘economic, political, institutional, technological, and ideological globalisation’ (Held 1999, p.19). Apart from these aspects, globalisation has also emerged as an evolutionary phenomenon that affects local cultures across the globe. An emerging scholarly question is whether globalisation promotes cultural diversity and/or whether it helps in improving cultural rights. In response to this interrogative, several theories concerning the implications of globalisation of local cultures have been developed. One of such theories encompasses the integrative theory. This theory advances three important paradigms. Hopper (2007) states them as cultural demarcation, cultural union, and cultural hybridisation.

The aspect of cultural differentiation holds that globalisation does not influence culture or close it. Despite the prevailing globalisation and the core culture (local cultures), cultural differences still exist (Hopper 2007). This view relates to Samuel Huntington, as quoted by Akwen (2010) in his thesis Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of the World Order. Huntington claims that different cultural and religious values and identities are the primary sources of conflicts such as the conflict between the West and Muslim faithful (Akwen 2010). This observation suggests that without considering identities and religious differences, globalisation does not influence negatively the local cultures. However, the position that is held by Huntington suffers some drawbacks since people’s identities and religious beliefs are constituents of culture.

Cultural convergence emphasises the need for assimilation and sameness of cultures around the world as a component of cultural globalisation. This view has to do with concepts that include McDonaldisation, Americanisation, Westernisation, and cultural imperialism (Linklater 2011). These concepts imply the spread of global culture and uniformity of cultures throughout the world. They lead to cultural convergence. McDonaldisation, which is associated with George Ritzer, is the process that the principles and characteristics of fast-food restaurants come to dominate more and more areas of social life not only in the United States, but also in the rest of the word (Ritzer, 2010). Globalisation fuels McDonaldisation. The situation has resulted in global uniformity. It has the consequence of affecting local traditions and habits. Ritzer (2010) defines such habits as local cultures. According to him, the five dimensions of McDonaldisation include competence, calculability, expectedness, directing by means of expertise and illogicality of reason (Ritzer 2010). Global uniformity is likely to continue since economic interests impel it. Ritzer (2004, pp. 12-15) discusses globalisation of “nothing” and four sub-types of nonentity, namely ‘non-places, non-things, non-people, and non-services that have no distinctive content’. Indeed, through McDonaldisation, people have shifted their eating cultures to emulate the fast-food culture as the standard and the current acceptable state of eating for the ever-busy global society.

Local cultures experience hybridisation due to globalisation. Cultural hybridisation implies the mixture of cultures that create a unique combination that is neither global nor local. The British sociologist Roland Robertson first defined the term glocalisation, which is associated with cultural hybridisation (Tong & Lin 2011). According to Robertson, glocalisation is defined as ‘the compression of the world and the intensification of the consciousness of the world as a whole’ (Tong & Lin 2011, p.57). The cultural landscapes of Arjun Appadurai’s five global flows operate on cultural hybridisation (Linklater 2011). The five cultural landscapes are ethnoscapes, technoscapes, financescapes, mediasscapes, and ideoscapes. Culture is a whole way of life that represents a group of people. The importance of it cannot be overvalued (Hopper 2007). For this reason, it is necessary to respect all cultures and protect them from the process of globalisation if the impacts of cultural globalisation threaten people’s cultural values. Globalisation has a cultural context, which prompts different counter reactions from people who seek to protect their local cultures.

Globalisation in the Cultural Context

Globalisation took historical process to materialise. In this extent, cultural globalisation is a quest for human cultures’ hybridisation and integration. Consequently, it is perhaps possible to trace the elements of quests for cultural mix in terms of values and beliefs such as religious beliefs across the entire world’s continents in several centuries. In America, such elements may be traced from the cultural, religious affiliations, and language mixes that were incorporated into the American culture by Spanish colonisers. From an economist perspective, globalisation is traceable from the incorporation of capitalism and modernism concepts within the mindsets of the global society (Held 2004). One of the most significant understandings of the role of globalisation in cultural developments is that globalisation entails world’s cultural diversity transfiguration to profile the pandemics of westernised consumer habits (Hachten & Scotton 2007). This case encompasses what Sreberny (1997) terms as Americanisation of global consumer culture. Critics of Americanisation of consumer culture are inclined to the perception that Americanisation of worldwide culture has the undue impact of heralding the end of cultural diversities of local people, especially those who come from the developing world. This claim suggests that globalisation has the negative effect of eroding local cultures and replacing them with the American culture. An alternative historical account for globalisation entails looking at it from the dimension of hybridisation of global cultures. In this extent, cultural mixes aid in adapting and transforming continually multiple cultures. This situation leads to renewing a myriad of global cultural forms. This position is consistent with Roy Wagner’s, as quoted by Sparks (2007, p.119) position, ‘culture is historically continuously changing and being recreated as part of an ongoing process.’ This claim implies that internal aspects and pressure influence the development of global cultures.

Implication of the Effects of Globalisation on Local Cultures

Aborioshade (2004) associates deterioration of global cultural diversities with negative impairment of the indigenous cultural identities, which have been replaced by westernised cultures. Challengers of cultural globalisation cite this occurrence as a major reason of their discontent with globalisation phenomenon. Indeed, cultural globalisation results in the disappearance of unique and bounded cultural tastes and preferences, especially among minority people whose cultural values have a little significance in the international arena (Burri 2010). Consequently, channels that are responsible for the spread and integration of global cultures such as Hollywood may be indebted to embrace values of different cultures in their productions. However, minority cultural diversities may fail to be recognised (Thussu 2006). Cultural globalisation may lead to minority people’s cultural fragmentation, disintegration, and/or reduced cultural integrity. Many cultures that are not recognised constitute minority cultures that are found in Africa. Such cultures are often less influential in the global arena compared to the European and American cultures. Globalisation fosters growth and the spread of dominant cultures while supplanting a myriad of indigenous cultures, especially in the developing world (Kerr 2006, p.145).

Media carries an enormous portion of people’s cultural attitudes, beliefs, and values across borders (Rantanen 2004). With the immense dominance of American-based television programmes across the globe, globalisation critics contend that the programmes carry with them the American products’ consumerist influences and business cultures (Escobar 2004). This situation has the effects of stereotyping local business cultures as inappropriate and inferior, especially in developing nations. Akin to the concerns of deprival of a room for cultural identities to blossom in foreign nations is the influence that a nation’s product has in the global fronts. Examples of companies, which are caught up in this predicament include McDonald’s and Coca Cola. The terms McDonaldisation and CocaColalisation are coined to describe their influence across different cultures across the world (Akwen 2010).

Although globalisation faces challenges in the extent that it negatively influences local cultures, it fosters massive exchange of information, which may serve to advantage various people. Cultural globalisation may promote the exchange of information and knowledge. By creating homogeneity in cultures, the business environment becomes easier to operate in and/or sell large quantities of products (Held 2004). Such an advantage is evidenced by global acceptance of Coca Cola and McDonald’s products among other products and services that have a global appeal. Benefits that accrue from economic globalisation are heralded by cultural globalisation. Promotion of multiculturalism is central to the cultural globalisation concept. In fact, the adoption of multiculturalism aids in alleviating cultural clashes and conflicts. This move translates into good international relations, especially where religious social organisational structures and values become homogeneously global.

During the interaction process of people who belong to different nations, interaction of cultures also occurs. This case has the repercussion of intercultural diffusion. Unfortunately, during the interaction process, critics have cited that this cultural diffusion is disproportionate (Held 2004). Some cultures dominate others to the extent of resulting in some sort of forced acculturation (Hachten & Scotton 2007). From the local cultural context, this claim is particularly true, especially when it is viewed from the dimension of globalisation, which has attracted mixed and valid controversies with respect to cultural globalisation where African nations regard western cultures as normal and globally acceptable ways of life (Tong & Lin 2011). This observation places the traditional cultural values into prejudice. In the evaluation of the repercussion of globalisation, many political, economic, and cultural scholars express divergent views. While they largely contend that globalisation has cultural, political, and economic effects on the entire world, they fail to concur on the exact effects. Some people claim that it has more positive effects than the negatives (Tong & Lin 2011). Hence, the overall impact is positive. Others contend that the cultural globalisation has overall negative effects on local cultures (Aborishade 2004).

A discussion of the impact of globalisation on local cultures is perhaps well discussed in the consideration of a case example. For instance, from the perspectives of socio-cultural impacts of globalisation on Nigerian cultures, globalisation may be defined differently from the original definition that is deployed in this paper. Scholars who are sensitive to the negative impacts of globalisation on African cultures define it from a negative perspective. Aborishade (2004, p.6) defines globalisation as ‘western imperialism, particularly American imperialism, that seeks to impose its hegemony on other subjugated and exploited nations’ threat of economic, political, or cultural coercion.’ The three instruments that are captured in this definition play a central role in setting people’s norms and values, which dictate the way people live. Norms and values refer to African culture, religious beliefs, roots, languages, clothing, symbols, and foods among other things that are unique to a specific society. Culture is learnt via deliberate instructions, socialisation, and absorption of values and norms in the social-cultural environment. This claim implies that it can also be unlearnt. Africans and minority local cultures have a lot to unlearnt lesson from western cultures as revealed in the next section on the implications of globalisation on Nigerian local cultures as a case example.

Discussion of the Case Example

Media constitutes one of the institutions that have significant impacts on local Nigerian cultures. Media is an essential means of transmitting people’s culture globally (Thussu 2006). Nigerian films, records, and even television shows depict large-scale American cultures (Abdi 2010). Erosion of Nigerian local cultures by western cultures through the media is attributable to factors such as inadequate funds to cater for programme production. Hollywood culture proliferation also plays an immense role in the failure to portray Nigerian local cultures adequately in the media (Kerr 2006). The media content in Nigeria depends enormously on news agencies in foreign nations, particularly the developed world. The contents of media in Nigeria foster the concepts of Americanisation of media products whilst neglecting the local Nigerian cultural influences on media. Radio and TV programme possesses conspicuous amounts of alien cultural influences. For instance, even though a myriad of Nigerian home videos depict Nigerian characters and themes, they are characterised and inspired by Hollywood fashion styles, violence, and sex among other cultural artefacts (Abdi 2010). This inspiration is largely inconsistent with African local cultural beliefs and values.

Global cultural integration has prompted and heralded the end of language as an important cultural artefact of Nigerian local cultures. Nigeria has three major ethnic groups, namely Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa. If globalisation integrates and strengthens local cultures, these languages can be integrated into one language. Nigeria should homogenously use such a language rather than adopting a foreign language (English) as a national language. In fact, Nigeria comprises one of the African nations where indigenous languages have started to shrink due to the impacts of globalisation (Abdi 2010). Her experience following the onset of globalisation is much in disfavour of the spread and existence of indigenous local languages. The modern Nigerian generation is born in an English speaking society, taught in it throughout its education systems, live with it in both public and private sectors, dress according to the way its native speakers dress, and/or eat according to its natives’ eating habits. Most probably, the generation might die practising the cultural ways of the English people.

Nigeria is not the only nation that is experiencing challenges of deteriorating local cultures due to globalisation in the African continent. Ghana is also caught in the same predicament. Elite Ghanaian communities are unable to communicate in their native languages (Abdi 2010). Parents are neither free nor willing to teach their children their native languages. With modern trends, English is a rich and valuable commodity. Therefore, parents get more pleased when they hear their children communicating fluently in it. The Nigerian situation is not even better as compared to Ghana’s situation. Nigerian students hardly enrol to study indigenous languages in their higher institutions of learning willingly unless they are forced by circumstances (Abdi 2010). This situation shows how they devalue their languages, which form part of their cultural identity. Incentive schemes by the government do not value the indigenous languages. The Nigerian government spends millions of naira in incentives that favour foreign languages, including English, German, French, or even science subjects in its educational curriculum.

African cultures are placed on strong foundations of moral awareness that is often embedded in indigenous languages, heritage, myths, and folklore (Al Mamun 2008). With foreign cultures engulfing African nations’ local cultures, an interrogative emerges on how people can abandon their cultures and yet claim to be working towards a rich cultural future. This situation is perhaps analogous to treating an ailment whose cause is unknown. In this context, African-rich local cultural artefacts are being vandalised, re-imaged, and even diluted by western cultural artefacts that are spread homogeneously across the African continent by globalisation in the form of cultural integration.

Local Responses

Globalisation has enhanced cultural learning and spreading of concepts of respect to human dignity across the world. However, local responses to the concerns of respect for human dignity are evident, although they are not codified. These responses are founded on the platform of the notion of humanness and a strong tradition on the need to observe human dignity. Murithi (2007) discusses one of such local responses, namely Ubuntu. Murithi (2007, p.277) states Ubuntu ‘is an ancient African code of ethics; it emphasises the importance of hospitality, generosity, and respect for all members of the community, and embraces the view that we all belong to one human family.’ Ideally, this concept defines of what it implies to be regarded as human in the African context and/or in the African understanding.

Despite the fact that African cultures are diverse in many ways, they share common beliefs in terms of promotion and advocating certain moral rights and wrongs. These beliefs are closely related to the established international human rights laws. For instance, international human rights laws provide that people have rights of life and that no one should deprive individuals this noble and universal right. However, in the African cultural moral principles, the unconditional moral rule holds that it is wrong to kill. This rule means that those who kill are inhumane just as human rights protection codes provide that those who kill violate universal human rights. This claim is the concern that is expanded by the Ubuntu concept. Murithi (2007, p.279) reckons, ‘the notion of Ubuntu sheds light on the importance of the promotion of human rights through the principles of reciprocity, inclusivity, and a sense of shared destiny between people.’ Extending it to circumstances that involve wars, the concept can promote forgiveness among the aggrieved parties. This situation curtails the acerbating of circumstances that give rise to the violation of human rights in the context of international human rights provisions. As a local response, African moral principles may provide strong backbones for the rationale behind the promotion of human rights as advanced by globalisation. They form the basis of justification of forgiveness and shunning from quests of revenge.

Ubuntu encompasses one of the concepts that are framed on the African realm of morality. It serves ‘to re-emphasise the essential unity of humanity and gradually promote attitudes and values that are predicated on the promotion and protection of human rights, including emphasising the sharing of resources’ (Murithi 2007, p.279). If African responses to the concerns of human rights observance are to receive global attention as part of mechanisms of instilling strong ethics for safeguarding human rights, it is important for them to be incorporated in the internationally recognised human rights codifications such as the UDHR. Unfortunately, globalisation has the impact of painting anything western as the as the best approach to human dignity. The contribution of local cultures for the developing nations becomes negated. It is considered inferior.

Influence of western cultures began to creep slowly into the African local socio-cultural district when Europeans were exposed to African people during the Berlin conference. Europeans were looking for African resources to boost their growing economies. The pace of proliferation of African cultures was later enhanced by unstoppable fast spreading waves of globalisation. However, this wave favoured western cultures in comparison with indigenous local cultures (Abdi 2010). Western cultures are associated with modernity. Unfortunately, Africa is widely dependent on the dominance of institutions that uphold the concept of modernity for decision-making. Consistent with this argument, Al Mamum (2008) contends that models of mainstream cultures have become a serious threat to non-western countries in terms of how the west along with authorities such as the United Nations, the IMF, and the World Bank control the international affairs. These institutions enact policies that bear elements of western cultures. They enhance their application globally. For instance, the concept of population control was widely absent in the indigenous African cultures. However, these institutions set policies that sought to make Africa control its population. Africa has little options if at all it needs to gain from the benefits that are extended by such institutions in the form of monetary aid and other financial rewards.

Domination, which is spread through globalisation of western cultures over African local cultures, threatens Africans’ rich cultural heritage to extinction. Western cultural dominance has compelled ancient African local cultural practices to give a satisfactory room for foreign methodologies of accomplishing certain societal tasks to guide how Africans do certain things. For instance, the once rich and diverse African dressing style is being replaced by western dressing codes. Western cultures’ dominance has resulted in making the western way of life that is now being used as a benchmark of the extent modernisation (Kerr 2006). African culture is labelled primitive and inappropriate, regrettably unacceptable, and archaic within the sphere African public domain. Some elements of African material cultures have been completely lost or even destroyed. The erosion of African sense of cultural continuity as evidenced by Nigeria’s departure from struggling to promote its indigenous languages is dangerous with reference to the preservation of cultural identity.

During the process of acculturation, interaction of western and African cultures is largely imbalanced. Western cultures fail to learn from African culture. Instead, they force African cultures to learn from the western civilisation (Abdi 2010). Since globalisation carries with it the concepts of westernisation, western cultural dominance and the effects it has propagated with it on African cultural diversities are attributable to the ever-spreading globalisation. Hence, although it is important in some aspects, it is equally dangerous. Outside the sphere of the impact of globalisation on African local cultures, it has effects on the cultures of the minorities, even in the western nations. Minority groups experience marginalisation due to major groups’ cultural dominance. Minority groups involve all immigrants and territory-based groups of people whose population number is insignificant in comparison with the dominant groups’ population numbers (Akwen 2010). Minority groups advance a myriad of complaints while seeking recognition of their cultural identities and incorporation in democratic politics. Their claims are diverse. They include quests for a room to exercise their cultural rights such as language.

Diversities that exist among the minority groups explain the large consensus on the need for respecting minority rights. After First World War, despite the fact that League of Nations endeavoured to develop various pacts to foster the protection of minority groups’ rights, the United Nations charter was enacted following the Second World Wars’ failure to incorporate minority groups’ rights explicitly. The UN charter was much concerned with human rights codifications. An assumption was made that those human rights codes that were applicable to individuals were sufficient to cater for minority groups. In modern days, although provisions for the rights of various indigenous minority groups are evident in the international law human rights codifications, cultural rights of various sub-states minority groups remain contentious (Holton 1998). With this kind of paradox, in the globalisation era, large cultures’ influence has eminent advantages in terms of boosting minority groups’ diverse cultures.

With western cultures being considered more superior than traditional African local cultures and minority cultures, minority cultural groups have experienced an immense deterioration of their traditional life forms. The overall effect of cultural globalisation on minority groups in Africa and minorities who live elsewhere across the globe is the presentation of cultural dualist dilemmas. This claim infers that globalisation creates high amplitudes of cultural tensions in every corner of social and communal settings. Cultural diversity my then end in terms of being the defining and distinction criteria for particular groups of people, thus prompting the re-emergence of other ways of societal groups’ distinction mechanisms such as racism, which will likely lead to more segregation of people in the global platform.

Conclusion

Associated with the concept of globalisation is the concept of westernisation. In this paper, westernisation has been considered a process of assimilation of western cultures in local cultures. Western culture incorporates aspects such as western industries technologies, lifestyles, diets, values, language, politics, religion, and law among other elements. The paper has confirmed that acculturation results in the erosion of local rich cultural heritage. It also heralds the end of local cultural identity. The case of Nigeria and Ghana where indigenous languages are severely threatened to extinction has evidenced this line of argument. In Nigeria, local media contents contain an immense volume of western cultural influences, despite the displaying of Nigerian characters and themes. In this context, the paper has held that the dominance of western cultures prompts the inculcation of perceptions that African cultures are inappropriate and primitive. Thus, they are mistakenly interpreted they can be improved by adopting and incorporating aspects of western cultures in them. Western cultures hardly learn anything from local African and minority cultures. Thus, the idea of cultural globalisation does not directly imply the promotion of cultural diversities and cultural integration. People whose local cultures are dominated by other cultures, which are promoted by globalisation, need to start by decolonising their minds. They need to appreciate the superiority of their cultures.

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