5. Does globalization diminish cultural diversity?
There are many reasons to think that globalization might undermine cultural
- multinational corporations promote a certain kind of consumerist culture,
in which standard commodities, promoted by global marketing campaigns
exploiting basic material desires, create similar lifestyles--"Coca-Colanization"
- backed by the power of certain states, Western ideals are falsely
established as universal, overrriding local traditions--"cultural imperialism"
- modern institutions have an inherently rationalizing thrust, making
all human practices more efficient, controllable, and predictable, as
exemplified by the spread of fast food--"McDonaldization"
- the United States exerts hegemonic influence in promoting its values
and habits through popular culture and the news media--"Americanization"
But there are also good reasons to think that globalization will foster
- interaction across boundaries leads to the mixing of cultures in particular
places and practice--pluralization
- cultural flows occur differently in different spheres and may originate
in many places--differentiation
- integration and the spread of ideas and images provoke reactions and
- global norms or practices are interpreted differently according to
local tradition; the universal must take particular forms--glocalization
- diversity has itself become a global value, promoted through international
organizations and movements, not to mention nation-states--institutionalization
To some extent, the issue of diversity is now the subject of global cultural
politics, and therefore unlikely to be settled by argument and evidence.
Scholars can offer some cautions:
- whether diversity diminishes depends on what yardstick you use (e.g.,
linguistic diversity may be more threatened than culinary diversity)
- homogenization and heterogenization may actually operate in tandem
or even reinforce each other
Center for World Indigenous Studies
Center focused on disseminating knowledge about and supporting democratic
relations among diverse cultures; produces Fourth World Journal and has
link to virtual library on indigenous reosurces
Site devoted to disseminating knowledge in support of indigenous people's
rights and autonomy; publishes quarterly journal (online)
Article by Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa argues that while some
past ways of life will be eclipsed in globalization, the process also
liberates people culturally by undermining the ideological conformity
Materials in French on conference held in June 2001 in Benin by ministers
from French-speaking countries to counter homogenizing effects of globalization
and assert the value of (cultural, linguistic) difference
Turning Point Project coalition of NGO's criticizes rise of monoculture
in newspaper advertisement
Organization opposed to McDonaldization, clearinghouse on issues related
INGO devoted to battling extinction of minority languages and indigenous
The Myths of
Paper by Joana Breidenbach and Ina Zukrigl disputes homogenization and
clash of civilizations scenarios by showing how ethnographic work points
to diversifying effects of globalization
Webster's World of Cultural
Web resources on cultural policy, several with global dimension, from
site promoting cultural democracy
World Culture Reports
1995 UNESCO world culture report (available online) and 2000 report (overview
and statistical tables) chart extent of cultural diversity, promote inclusion
of culture in development policies, and foster respect for all tolerant
cultures in "rainbow river"; site also contains other material on UNESCO's
work to preserve cultural heritage and stimulate pluralism
(back to the top)
- What is globalization?
- How does globalization affect women?
- Does globalization cause poverty?
- Why are so many people opposed to globalization?
- Does globalization diminish cultural diversity?
- Can globalization be controlled?