The omnipresent trend of globalization affects all spheres of human life, imposing significant shifts in the way people view their daily activities, as well as their identity. Commonly, the concept of globalization is referred to as the economic field, where international trade and business relations allow for effective trans-border cooperation. However, there exist other dimensions of globalization, namely political and cultural, which are affected by globalization trends and derive from the economic implications. In recent decades, the topic of cultural globalization has been particularly addressed by academic circles. Overall, this phenomenon is perceived as an extensive interaction between people, societies, businesses, and cultures. Various theories and concepts are applied to this problem to investigate the observed shifts in cultural particularities of separate nations under the influence of Western culture’s imposed global dominance. With the intensification of international ties, the development of global telecommunications, the internet, and social media, the differences between the nations, countries, and cultures become blurred, thus endangering the uniqueness of national cultures.
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The objective of the current paper is to explore the cultural dimensions of globalization from the perspective of its relation to countries and nations. The choice of this spatial area is justified by the direct interrelation between culture as a concept best interpreted in the context of a nation and a country where a given nation resides. It is anticipated that the perspective of discussing cultural globalization from the perspective of how it affects countries will allow for obtaining the most informative argument. Thus, this paper argues that the process of globalization imposes irreversible shifts in cultural dimensions of separate countries and nations by altering such nation-specific dimensions as language, religion, traditions, communication, and arts.
General Implications of Cultural Globalization
Cultural Globalization Conceptualized
Globalization, as a well-known concept, has evolved within recent decades and has signified the diffusion of interactions between people internationally. The term was not known or recognized by the public until approximately 25 years ago when it started being used to define the processes that followed modernization (Simelyte et al., 2017). Having emerged as a complex, multifaceted phenomenon, globalization includes the various stages of human interaction on a level where geographical borders are not an obstacle. Under such circumstances, the mutual influence of different countries on one another is inevitable.
Although this process originated within an economic realm, its impact is strongly associated with the ways people individually and collectively change their lifestyles. In scholars’ opinion, “cultural globalization is a large-scale human cultural activity, including languages, thoughts, customs, and other elements” (Chen et al., 2017, pp. 808). The relationships between national culture and cultural globalization are particularly relevant to the discussion of the dimension at hand due to the interrelation between the two. On the one hand, cultural globalization is based on national culture and is composed of the intertwined relations between various national cultures (Chen et al., 2017). On the other hand, national cultures become influenced and even shaped by globalization trends, which predetermines the complexity of the changing processes. Thus, such activity has both positive and negative implications on national cultures and societies due to the facilitation of changes and the overall development of the world.
General Positive Effects
Firstly, there are multiple positive aspects of cultural globalization, which might be most commonly experienced by developing countries. Since “cultural globalization is the product of the development of human society,” it leads the improvement in the spheres where it is required (Chen et al., 2017, p. 808). In other words, the exchange of ideologies in political, economic, and cultural domains between the developed and developing countries allows the latter to obtain growth opportunities under the guidance of the developed world. Moreover, cultural globalization enhances the integration of national cultures on a worldwide scale, stimulates effective communication, and “provides a broad space for the prosperity and development of these native cultures” (Chen et al., 2017, p. 808). The opportunities for information and experience exchange promote the growth and development in all countries of the world, striving for higher standards.
Since national identity consists of the individual identities of the people living in a given country, it is relevant to address the positive influence of global networks on social identity. According to Grimalda et al. (2018), social identity is perceived as the identification of an individual as a member of a group. It was found by the scholars that people living in the modern-day globalized world identify themselves as members of the local and national community, although a high level of global impact on their self-identification is observed. It is particularly manifested through global connectivity and the ability to cooperate on a worldwide level (Grimalda et al., 2018). Moreover, Grimalda et al. (2018) demonstrate by their collected data that people who are more actively involved in global communication and cooperation “do not reduce contributions to local accounts while increasing contributions to global accounts, but rather are overall more generous” (p. 1). Thus, people’s continuous participation in global networks and easy access to and close communication with any person in the world using technological means enhances their social identity at a country level, which leads to enrichment of the national culture.
General Negative Effects
Secondly, there are significant adverse implications associated with the susceptibility of nations to globalization. Indeed, with the merging of several cultures due to their collision, dominant cultures, prosper, and weaker ones become displaced or even lost (Chen et al., 2017). Indeed, these effects might be illustrated by an example of a developing country’s youth’s particular interest in western traditions, the adherence to which causes rejection of their native customs. On a national scale, countries’ identities and uniqueness become blurred and are at risk of vanishing because of their possible substitution by a so-called invading culture. In such a manner, the whole history and cultural heritage of generations are exposed to the dramatic and irreversible changes under the influence of globalization.
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Moreover, the process of globalization is predominantly directed in one way, namely from the highly developed countries onto underdeveloped ones, or those identified as a minority in comparison to a dominant one. This tendency means that globalization might be perceived “as an attack on the national spirit or personality” (Chen et al., 2017, pp. 808). Since these issues are felt by locals and seen as a threat to national identity, globalization becomes a reason for cultural anxiety. Even though local cultures absorb the developments and benefits of foreign cultures, they also alter their vision of culture as a national value. The frictions and challenges of adopting a new culture cause fear and unease in response to foreign influences. Therefore, the local reaction to cultural globalization is derived from particular situations in a given context, where societal stability and inclusion are important (Ozer, 2020). If the invasion of a dominant culture, such as the western one, is perceived differently by various populations in a country, there is a threat to stability and inclusion.
Importantly, the ways in which the representatives of a country whose culture adopts alterations of a foreign origin respond to globalization vary. One of the possible and frequently occurring responses “to an experience of fear and societal insecurity is essentialism” which embodies reinforcement of fundamental aspects of the local culture (Ozer, 2020, p. 28). The negative implication of globalization, from this perspective, is that locals might utilize illegal or radical means of influence to facilitate the dominance of the national cultural concepts and eliminate the adversities of the foreign culture imposed by globalization. Ozer (2020) provides some examples of such actions, namely nationalism and religious orthodoxy, which might result in extremism and consecutive impairments to the societal order. The research on this matter implies that this side of globalization-related effects is bound to cross-cultural tensions and radicalization, which constitute a significant threat not only to the cultural domain but also to the safety of the population (Ozer, 2020). Thus, cultural globalization triggers various responses on the local level that are not always favorable.
Another important aspect related to the negative outcomes of globalization on culture is its enforcement of inequality. As Tang et al. (2020) emphasize, on the verge of the first observed globalization tendencies, its numerous benefits were strongly anticipated. For example, economic development on a global scale was expected to induce the growth of the developing countries under the guidance of the developed ones. Also, with the intensification of international trade and professional exchange, the inflow of qualified staff was expected for the developing world.
However, in reality, globalization emerged as a trigger of the opposite change, when qualified individuals strive to move to a better-developed country to seek growth opportunities, better salaries, and higher standards of life (Tang et al., 2020). Indeed, the anticipated improvement of opportunities available to all failed to become a reality. Instead, “there appear to be so many losers and so few winners” under the influence of globalization, which in turn alters the cultural processes and the societal perception of life values (Tang et al., 2020, p. 2). Importantly, the neoliberal ideology behind globalization implies an uneven distribution of benefits, which, for example, was vividly observed in China where people obtain more jobs but the irrelevant distribution of income perspectives (Tang et al., 2020). Consequently, globalization has negative implications since it triggers inequality that has an ultimate effect on cultural shifts and changes in the national identity of particular countries. The paradigms within which cultural globalization is theorized are represented by several approaches.
Theories Applicable to Cultural Globalization
There are several theoretical frameworks that allow for interpreting the changes in national culture and their relation to the effects of globalization. As Chen et al. (2017) state, there are two generally applicable approaches to theorizing the national culture shifts in response to globalization. They include two opposite views: one completely dismissive of any alterations to the local culture and another one treating national culture without allocating it any significance.
These two contrary approaches to theorizing national culture are ethnocentrism and national nihilism. Ethnocentrism is a theory that “overemphasizes the cultural characteristics and advantages of its own group, denies or despises other cultures, and even refuses to communicate with others” (Chen et al., 2017, p. 808). In the opinion of the followers of this theory, no effective communication between several cultures is possible, as well as there is no need to integrate one culture into another for any reason. In other words, cultures should exist separately and facilitate their own unique ways of development. On the other hand, national nihilism “ignores national characteristics, denies national cultural traditions and historical heritage, and holds that national culture is useless and cannot keep pace with the development of times” (Chen et al., 2017, p. 808). Following this logic, the supporters of the theory of national nihilism justify the transformations to national cultures under the influence of foreign ones, thus favoring globalization as a positive process.
Nonetheless, both theories are somewhat extreme and take radically opposite positions that do not seem to be able to compromise with reality. The aftermath of globalization results in the exposure of developing countries to the capitalistic and neoliberal models of interpersonal and business relations that cause the complete decay of national cultures and ethnicities (Chen et al., 2017). Therefore, it is vital to consider the implications of globalization within the cultural domain, as well as its other realms, from a more moderate point of view that would allow for obtaining a constructive vision of the changes.
Vygotsky’s views on socio-cultural processes might also be interpreted according to the evolving globalization in the cultural dimension. Since Vygotsky’s theory is particularly applicable to learning, the discussion of his approach allows for relating the globalization trends to education as one of the cultural phenomena. Global changes and related shifts in human communication and behavior might be explained by the process of mediation between several concepts. From Vygotsky’s perspective, global mediation takes place when “the cultural-historical domain is volatile and multi-dimensional” or when global media is used to enhance learning in educational institutions (Marginson & Dang, 2017, p. 127). The new ways in which people perceive their cultural artifacts and adopt foreign cultures evolve with the emergence of new information exchange means.
Indeed, now that space is instantly perceived on a global scale when traveling and exploring opportunities are easily available, the importance of national culture becomes diminished because people tend to integrate into the global community regardless of their physical location or place of residence. As a consequence, there appears a hybrid culture of the world where many national features are blended without specific recognition of separate ones. These threats to national identity and uniqueness are vividly illustrated by the influence of globalization via Americanization and technological advancement.
National Culture and Identity Under the Influence of Globalization
Instant access to any information around the world enables continuous human connection that is a core of globalization processes. According to Simelyte et al. (2017), globalization might be divided “into three different historical processes: expansion of information technology, renewal of capitalism structure and the collapse of the bipolar system” (p. 2). Since the expansion of information technology is the core driver of globalization, its influences play a key role in understanding the cultural implications of this process.
The progress in the technological domain has allowed for international communication and consecutive instant exchange of all sorts of information and goods between the countries. With the enhanced interaction between nations and the migration of people, there appeared a tendency to the integration of various cultures into each other. On a more modern level where technology is predominantly perceived as social media, internet, TV, and other spheres, the implications of globalization on culture are more vividly observed. As Grimalda et al. (2018) state, “more and more people access the same sources of information or forms of entertainment worldwide,” which facilitates the “world as a whole” mindset across nations (p. 1-2). Moreover, internet-based remote jobs that prevail now induce a globalized vision of labor and professional growth opportunities, which might be inconsistent with some countries’ traditional views, thus causing conflicts of values.
Americanization as the Dominance of Western Culture
When taken to the cultural level, globalization is commonly associated with the dominant diffusion of western culture, and that of the USA, in particular. This process is called Americanization as derived from the omnipresence of the US-originated companies and products that are produced for the global market and popularize the American lifestyle (Pieterse, 2019). These products incorporate multiple items ranging from food, snacks, and beverages to outfits and devices. Apart from the material products produced by the US-originated corporations dominating the global market, there is arts-related content, such as music, cinema, art, and others. Indeed, as Simelyte et al. (2017) state, the world’s most famous music genres, including “rock, rap, and hip-hop, have American roots” (p. 3). Similarly, such sitcoms and TV shows as “Friends,” “Big Bang Theory,” “Simpsons,” or “American Dad,” as well as mass-market-oriented Hollywood films, are produced in the US and spread all around the world (Simelyte et al., 2017). People in every corner of the world are familiar with these examples, while they might be unaware of their local cultural heritage.
These cultural products are aimed at delivering esthetic messages and representing the realities and values of a given society, as well as attracting people’s attention to the most tentative social issues. In such a manner, any piece of art ever created places its role. However, since all the enlisted products are created specifically in the US and distributed across the globe, only American people are depicted in them, the issues that are represented pertain to American culture and values. From this, it follows that Americanization as the process of the US culture’s integration in the societies of multiple countries has a negative effect on the development of national cultures and identities. Importantly, many researchers, as stated by Simelyte et al. (2017), define Americanization as a type of globalization, which is explained by the dominant position of American corporations in the global economic market. Therefore, the influence of America is inevitable under the circumstances of emerging cultural globalization.
One of the most vivid types of Americanization is the phenomenon of McDonaldization. It is defined as “the process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as of the rest of the world” (Simelyte et al., 2017, p. 3). Indeed the corporate culture of the chain of these fast-food restaurants is based on the adherence to franchising that induces complete standardization of production and services regardless of location. Such an approach that values regulations and standards is perceived as a hallmark of a successful business. Consequently, the cultural implications of this process are that the identical presentation of McDonald’s restaurants in all corners of the world implies the tendency of different countries to unify and blend in one global culture.
Moreover, the impact of Americanization is observed within global media that aligns with the standards and traditions of the American one. The layout and communication styles are adjusted to those created by the US media. Importantly, such an effect is spreading to other vital domains, such as politics. According to Simelyte et al. (2017), the candidates in many countries of the world plan their campaigns following the American scenarios. Consequently, the illustrated examples demonstrate that the world is highly susceptible to American culture in all domains of daily human life, entertainment, and product consumption. The particularities of this process might be depicted in several cases of developing regions impacted by Americanization.
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The impact of Americanization as a part of globalization is particularly observed in non-western countries, where the changes are vivid due to their radical difference in comparison to local cultures. For example, the impact of this process on India is illustrated by the so-called “vacuum between the traditional society and the modern society” or globalized one (Gogineni et al., 2018, p. 304). The gap between the cultural advancement of the underdeveloped Indian regions and the globalizing world triggered the adoption of dominant foreign cultures, the US’s in particular, by the population of India. This has led to changes in the perception of family values and the daily life of the citizens the contrary to the traditional local approach.
A similar effect was established in South Africa, where the traditional extended family type became substituted by the inclination to a nuclear family. In both India and South Africa, extended families cannot exist in the world evolving under the global economic rules; thus, people’s national identity embedded in societal structure and family ties becomes altered (Gogineni et al., 2018). Consequently, people who do not adjust to the globalization patterns, experience significant psychological and socio-cultural challenges of alienation and insecurity, which is foreign to extended family support traditions. Thus, such negative implications of globalization result in cultural imperialism, which is comprised of “culture contact and dislodgement in which the dominant culture is subtly or imposed on the recessive culture” (Amadi et al., 2016, p. 27). Thus, cultural globalization in general and Americanization, in particular, have significant negative implications for national identity and impose a high level of insecurity, inequality, and homogenization in developing countries.
To summarize, the cultural dimensions of globalization are commonly addressed from their two-fold effect on national cultures, namely positive and negative changes the global network induces. The anticipated advantages of prosperity and cultural growth for the developing countries are associated with the adoption of the benefits of foreign cultures to improve local ones. However, the reality of cultural globalization triggered and reinforced by information technologies and manifested through Americanization brings more disadvantages to national cultural identities. The traditional values become diminished and ignored, inequality and social insecurity expand, while the standardized and homogenous global culture guided by the US invades ethnicities around the world.
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