Diverse Homogeneity – An Oxymoron to Ponder

Dawei Wang in his essay “Globalization of the Media: Does It Undermine National Cultures?” questions a very relevant point, “does globalization turn our planet into a world society, a “global village”? or, conversely, does it disintegrate the nation-state system, and dissolve stable national identities?”. The essay discusses the current arguments about the relationship between media globalization and national cultures. The different functions of global media in context of economic, technological and cultural situations, from a cultural perspective is done to look at how it influences national cultures. With the important point made that “media may affect a nation’s culture but not sufficient for cultural resistance or submission”. It really all comes down to how strong a particular culture is. Globalization’s positive effect definitely can be visualized economically and technologically with the emergence of new media continually growing. In the essay globalization is referred to as ‘the rapidly developing process of complex interconnections between societies, cultures, institutions and individuals world-wide’ or ‘the entire world system, the global human conditions’. Globalization reduces the time taken to cross distances between cultures that physically separate them, making the world seems smaller and bringing people in closer contact with each other. Wang argues that because of American dominance in mass media, it was viewed as a channel of westernization, going against socialism and totalitarianism. Now more so seen as ordinary entertainment and mass audience enjoyment of culture. Those against globalization see it as cultural and media imperialism, aimed at controlling, invading or undermining cultures with fear of everyone speaking English and thinking ‘like an American, with cultural diversity engulfed in a tidal wave of crass Hollywood values’. However, others will see it as an expression of the free market with benefits for all, having little predatory effect because the audience is voluntary and content being neutral and ideologically innocent. “The media does not work as simply as conveying ideas from one place to another, the active audience can shape the content and their wants and needs must be responded to” this is a point I highly agree with.

Another interesting essay found discussing globalization and homogenization of culture yet with a closer focus on fast-food restaurants “Globalization and Homogenization of Culture: Taking a Closer Look at Fast-Food Restaurants” By Abigail Datuin, (2014), looks at a concept known as ‘McDonalidisation’ or ‘Mcdonaldiliation of society” a term coined by George Ritzier suggesting “the socially-structured form of the fast-food restaurant has become the organizational force representing and extending the process of rationalization into the realm of everyday interaction and individual identity”. Similarly, to Wang, Datuin’s blog essay post draws close attention to witnessing the rise of an “increasingly homogenized popular culture” heavily influenced by the Western world—ideals, values, and culture. The same positive aspect of this “sense of a global community founded” is shown in Datuin’s essay yet in relation to sameness through global brand cultures. A reference to Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright “Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture” summarises – “By looking at the different food items on menus around fast-food restaurants, we see that many styles of food have been appropriated—“the borrowing and changing the meanings of commodities, cultural products…by putting them into new contexts”—rather than made in the exact same manner”.  So are we creating a “global village”? Or is homogenization stripping us from cultural diversity? It’s a tough question in which I still fail to come to a conclusion.

 

Wang, D. (2018). Globalization of the Media: Does It Undermine National Cultures?. [online] Web.uri.edu. Available at: https://web.uri.edu/iaics/files/17-Dawei-Wang.pdf

Datuin, A. (2014). Globalization and Homogenization of Culture: Taking a Closer Look at Fast-Food Restaurants – COMM 100C. [online] Quote.ucsd.edu. Available at: https://quote.ucsd.edu/comm100c/2014/12/16/globalization-and-homogenization-of-culture-taking-a-closer-look-at-fast-food-restaurants/

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