Global Culture

Globalisation has brought connections to countries through the flow of people, goods, information, and capital. From being introduced to various cultures and the interconnections created, cultures have been influenced and adapted to the encounters. It sounds great. However, there are positive and negative impacts of sharing a global culture. Let's look into the effects of globalisation on cultures around the world and having a global culture.  

Global Culture Global Culture

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Table of contents

    Global Culture Definition

    From the TNC (transnational corporations) brands, global media, and tourism due to globalisation, there are shared experiences, symbols, and ideas that exist on a global level. But what definition do we give to global culture?

    Global culture is shared by many worldwide and is based on western ideals on consumption, and attitudes towards the physical environment. Pop music, fast food chain restaurants, and Hollywood films are examples of global culture, spread to all corners of the world.

    The importance of global culture is exposure to different languages, religions, and interactions, which can create connections and show diversity. The development of global culture can give opportunities to marginalised and disadvantaged groups. Examples are the worldwide exposure of the broadcasting of the Paralympics, sexual discrimination cases, and gay pride celebrations can raise awareness and help face prejudices in emerging or developing countries.

    Read the article 'Globalisation' for a further understanding of globalisation and where it comes from.

    Characteristics of Global Culture

    Global culture comes from Europe and North America, which has spread through globalisation. The culture focuses on wealth creation, earning money to spend on consumer goods and high consumption levels; success depends on how much money is earnt and how many things you own. Technology, trends, and fashion are also important and support consumerist behaviours. People prefer private enterprises as opposed to government-owned businesses. Natural resources are exploited for the creation of wealth.

    Being exposed to and influenced by global culture positively and negatively impacts cultures worldwide and can create cultural diffusion, homogenisation and cultural erosion. Let's take a look at these characteristics.

    Cultural Diffusion

    Cultural diffusion is the process of transferring, adopting, and merging cultures from one to another due to globalisation. Cultural diffusion has spread western culture through the migration of people, tourism opening people up to new cultures, TNCs taking their brand and products around the world such as Apple, Louis Vuitton, and Nike, and global broadcasting organisations such as CNN, BBC, and Netflix showing the western point of view on events.

    Cultural Homogenisation

    Cultural homogenisation, also known as Americanisation, is the reduction in cultural diversity from the popularisation of cultural symbols of physical products, values, customs, and ideas. Fast food companies are often considered a symbol of cultural homogenisation, with brands such as Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, and Burger King dominating the fast food market and are found in many cities worldwide.

    Global Culture A McDonalds restaurant  in Marrakech StudySmarterFig. 1 - McDonald's in Marrakech

    Cultural Erosion

    Cultures exposed to global culture can experience sudden change and reduction to their own culture; this is called cultural erosion. The impact of cultural erosion is the loss of traditional food, clothes, music, and social relations.

    Cultural erosion can lead to the decline of people speaking a minority language and endanger the language.

    People who have lived isolated, traditional lifestyles with strong cultural connections are at risk of cultural erosion from globalisation. The exposure to and imposition of global culture can dilute the culture of people such as tribal groups of Amazonia and Arctic Inuits. It can also be exploitative as they are put on 'show' to tourists who have discovered their existence on global media.

    There are a few examples of countries that have reacted to cultural changes. In France, the government has limited foreign language media by having 40% of all broadcasts in French. In Iran, there was a ban from the government of Barbies in the 1990s who wore miniskirts and swimsuits as they were seen as threatening and eroding Islamic culture where women must wear headscarves. In China, there is a firewall from the government that stops unfavourable and politically sensitive information. 'The Great Firewall of China' prevents BBC, Google, and Twitter access.

    Local and Global Culture

    Global culture focuses on connecting with many countries and connecting globally, whereas local culture focuses on culture in one place with a common interest and connects locally. The two cultures seem like they wouldn't mix, but diversity in the UK is an example of glocal culture. Glocal culture is when there is a global culture at a local level and is caused by many years of inward migration. This can be seen in places such as Manchester's curry mile or London's China Town, where ethnic enclaves create a space adopting their culture, which is then acknowledged by the city and helps strengthen cultural diversity.

    Global Culture Photograph of Curry mile in Manchester StudySmarterFig. 2 - Curry Mile in Rusholme, Manchester

    Glocalisation

    Glocalisation is the TNC adapting services and goods to the local needs and tastes to increase the custom in a region. Examples would be McDonald's having a localised menu for each country, such as Big Spicy Paneer Wrap in India and creating dishes that don't have beef or pork as there are Hindu and Muslim populations. Tesco has a wet market in Thailand to cater to the needs of the locals that judge the food through touch. In Disneyland Tokyo, there are souvenirs of rice crackers, which are elements of Japanese culture in an American brand.

    Global Culture Examples

    Particular countries have been impacted by global culture. Examples are Cuba coming out of a strict communist regime to face global culture, China and the influence on a diet, and Papua New Guinea and the struggle with keeping their languages. Let's look into how they are impacted by global culture.

    Cuba and Cultural Diffusion

    Cuba decided to protect itself from western capitalism for 50 years whilst Fidel Castro declared it a communist state. Cuba had the support of the USSR till 1991, when it collapsed. This was a catalyst to develop and accept foreign investment. After 2008, Fidel's brother Raul took over when Fidel resigned to ill health. Raul allowed free enterprise businesses to set up, similar to China's open-door policy, which led to new cultures entering the once-strict communist state. With the growth of tourism and global media such as Netflix available in Cuba, global culture is diluting and challenging Cuban culture. This can result in cultural erosion with loss of language, traditions, and food, and also influence from new cultures is changing music, architecture, and food and causing cultural diffusion.

    China's Change in Diet

    In China, the influence and change in diet have led to an obesity crisis. The rapid growth of fast-food chains that have entered the country, along with the use of cars, city life, television, and lack of exercise, have all contributed to the crisis.

    Papua New Guinea and Loss of Language

    In Papua New Guinea, there are around 1,000 languages. These languages have been affected by political change and deforestation. As the natural barriers that kept Papua New Guinea isolated are removed, the more the languages decline. There have been clear correlations between the decline in biodiversity and the disappearance of languages.

    Global Culture War

    There has been opposition to globalisation because of the adverse effects of cultural erosion, cultural homogenisation, and cultural diffusion. Economic repercussions and environmental exploitation have also occurred because of globalisation and global culture. Because of the negative impact, there have been protest groups such as the Global Justice Movement and Occupy Wall Street. These movements could just be the beginning of the global culture war.

    The Global Justice Movement is a social movement for global justice through the equal distribution of economic resources and is against corporate globalisation.

    Occupy Wall Street was a protest in New York's financial district, Wall Street, which was against the influence of money in politics and inequality in wealth. The rally used the slogan 'we are the 99%' to highlight the difference in wealth between the top wealthiest 1% of the US compared to the rest.

    Global Culture Protester on Wall Street holding up a sign that reads we are the 99 percent StudySmarterFig. 3 - Protester on Wall Street

    The arguments against globalisation and global culture point out that the exploitation of natural resources and consumption leads to global warming, deforestation, pollution, and loss of biodiversity because of global culture. It also exploits workers in emerging countries where wages are low, working environments are precarious, and have no union representation. There is an increase in wealth inequality, where a small group of powerful, rich people created wealth at the expense of others.

    Global Culture - Key takeaways

    • Global culture is a culture shared worldwide based on western ideals on consumption and attitudes towards the physical environment.
    • Global culture comes from Europe and North America, focusing on wealth creation, earning money to spend on consumer goods, and success depending on material wealth. Natural resources are exploited for the creation of wealth.
    • Cultural erosion, cultural diffusion, and cultural homogenisation are negative impacts of global culture, whereas glocalisation can be seen as a positive impact on global culture.
    • There are examples of negative impacts of global culture in Cuba coming out of a strict communist regime, China and the influence on the diet, and Papua New Guinea and the struggle with keeping their languages.
    • There have been protests by groups such as the Global Justice Movement and Occupy Wall Street against globalisation and global culture.

    References

    1. Fig. 1: McDonald's in Marrakech (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mc_Donalds_in_Marrakech_(2902151808).jpg) By mwanasimba (https://www.flickr.com/people/30273175@N06) Licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)
    2. Fig. 3: Protester on Wall Street (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:We_Are_The_99%25.jpg) by Paul Stein (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kapkap/6189131120/) Licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)
    Frequently Asked Questions about Global Culture

    What are the three impacts of globalisation on culture? 

    Cultural erosion, cultural diffusion, and cultural homogenisation are impacts of globalisation on culture. 

    What is an example of Americanisation? 

    Examples of Americanisation are Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, and Burger King, dominating the fast food market and are found in many cities worldwide. 

    Why is global culture important? 

    Global culture is important because it can be exposure to different languages, religions, and interactions, creating connections and showing diversity. 

    What is the difference between global and local culture? 

    Global culture focuses on connecting with many countries and connecting globally, whereas local culture focuses on culture in one place with a common interest and connects locally. 

    What is global culture? 

    Global culture is a culture shared by many worldwide based on western ideals on consumption and attitudes towards the physical environment. 

    What are some examples of global culture? 

    Pop music, fast food chain restaurants, and Hollywood films are examples of global cultures. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Which of the below are examples of global culture?

    TRUE or FALSE: The development of global culture can give opportunities to marginalised and disadvantaged groups.

    Which of the below is not a global culture?

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