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Globalization which is a process characterized by integration of economies and cultures has increased rapidly in recent years bringing about a profound change in the way society operates. As communication technologies advance and transportation means become faster and more affordable, the world is slowly turning into a global village.
Globalization has resulted in some positive attributes such as increased trade between nations, and a fostering of amicable relationships as people of various cultures interact. However, this attributes of globalization have made some people view it as a major threat to cultural diversity since it in some cases results in homogenization.
There is therefore a fear that cultural diversity will be impeded as harmonization is encouraged by differences being reduced and similarities expounded on. Such arguments fail to consider the positive impacts that globalization has on cultural diversity. This paper shall argue that globalization does not present a threat to cultural diversity and in some instances can be an agent for explosion of cultural diversity. To reinforce this claim, this paper will discuss how globalization has played a positive role in cultural diversity.
Globalization’s Positive Impact to culture
One of the things that globalization is accused of by its opponent’s is that it results in the doing away of local traditions. This is because globalization results in cultures changing even as they encounter others. Giddens asserts that it would be wrong to think of traditions as impervious to change since traditions do evolve over time and with each passing generation (40). As such, the traditions that people hold dear are bound to change naturally over time with or without the globalization process playing a part.
Giddens goes on to suggest that for a practice to be traditional, it must not have necessarily existed for centuries (41). Instead, it only needs to have been practiced repetitively. This “detraditionalisation” brings about the possibility of greater freedom as people are freed from the constraints of the past (Giddens 47). As such, while globalization has been responsible for rapid changes in traditions, these changes would inevitably have happened.
Globalization has been accused of trying to create a homogenized American culture through cultural imperialism where more established powers prevail over the younger more impressionable ones. Cultural imperialism is said to dissolve local cultures and promote American values.
This alleged imperialism is said to be perpetrated mostly through the electronic media which creates multiple cultural exchanges that are consumed all over the world (Blum 92). Pickering reveals that these fears are unsubstantiated since recent research shows that people “do not generally absorb culture passively but actively engage in cultural exchange” (51
Globalization results in people being exposed to cultures that are foreign to them. While some view this to be a negative attribute of globalization since it may result in a cultural diffusion which will negatively impact diversification, it may be a positive trait. This is because people from foreign cultures may be more likely to point out interesting facts about alien cultures. Pickering reveals that some previously unnoticed features of a culture may be highlighted by intercultural interaction (52).
This can not only help the local people to better understand their culture but it can also spark new interest in aspects of the culture that may have been previously ignored. This is a notion that is corroborated by Legrain who asserts that “globalization not only increases individual freedom, but also revitalizes cultures and cultural artifacts through foreign influences, technologies, and markets”.
Globalization can also be credited with the great tolerance that currently characterizes the world. As people from various cultures interact, they get to appreciate each other and hence avoid conflict. Globalization also results in increased trading hence interdependence among nations. In the past when globalization was not there, violent conflicts which resulted in the destruction of entire communities and their culture were common. Marquardt asserts that “the greatest value of globalization is its potential for creating a world of peace”.
One of the primary characteristics of globalization is the widespread immigration of people. This phenomenon has resulted in people leaving their traditional societies and joining other societies which are alien to them. While some view this as a negative attribute since it the person who moves to the new location may lose their cultural identity, this is not the case.
Legrain suggests that the outcome from cultures mixing is an even richer and more novel culture (2). Globalization even results in the emergent of new hybrid cultures. As such, globalization does not pose a threat to cultural growth and diversity but rather is an agent for promoting the same.
This paper set out to demonstrate that globalization does not pose a threat to cultural diversification. To reinforce this claim, this paper has viewed some of the arguments that demonstrate that globalization dos not impede cultural growth.
The evidence is overwhelming that the fears about globalization threatening cultural diversity are unfounded. From this paper, it is clear that globalization has a positive impact on culture. It can therefore be authoritatively stated that globalization is not a threat to cultural diversity and may in fact result in diversification and/or more appreciation of local cultures.
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Blum, Douglas. National Identity and Globalization. NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print.
Giddens, Anthony. Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping our Lives. Routledge, 2003. Print.
Legrain, Philippe. “Cultural Globalization Is Not Americanization”. The Chronicle Review Volume 49, Issue 35, 2003.
Marquardt, Michael. “Globalization: The Pathway to Prosperity, Freedom and Peace”. Human Resource Development International, Vol. 8, No. 1, 127 – 129, March 2005.
Pickering, Jonathan. “Globalization: A threat to Australian culture”. Journal of Australian Political Economy No 48, 2001.