Monday, November 01, 2004

10 30

Dilip 10 30

What are the cultural dimensions of globalization?

Bhagwati suggests that globalization is socially benign. Interdependent economies can drive nations to war, e.g. regime change in Iraq to create a democratic and U.S.-friendly government in the Middle East. Because of globalization, democratic ideas will go from the West to the Middle and Far East…but what form will they take in Eastern countries? Ideologies are moving as well; Christianity is the basis of some Western ideology, but Islam is the basis of much of Eastern thought (Black Muslims adopted Islam’s ideas). Are ideas moving faster than before, as a result of globalization?

Appadurai believes that there are 5 Tracks or “Scapes” of globalization:

1) Ethnoscape – movement of people
2) Finance-scape – movement of money
3) Ideascape – movement of ideas
4) Mediascape – how media images move, how they are portrayed differently in each country, who controls it…self-censorship is more powerful than formal censoring, the news is biased.
5) Technoscape – how does technology move

Why do people move? They move for economic betterment. Trading between civilizations led to technological and ideological exchanges, (diffusion). Adventurers found new civilizations, and trading outposts were established to buy and sell…religion and politics were simultaneously sold by evangelical religions in the countries that established outposts…religion moved, Christianity from Europe to Asia, Buddhism from India to China and Tibet (Hinduism is a diffuse religion, not a “religion of a book”, while other religions were easier to export, more centralized). Western trading powers’ political aims were advanced militarily in countries in which outposts were established…led to colonialism. After the dark ages, the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism established the idea of a nation-state, and national identities, a cultural expression. Popular sovereignty developed from this, and subsequently democracy, in Europe. Religious intolerance also developed from this, and some people moved to practice their religions freely. The “new world” went from a religious refuge to the center of economic and political activity; colonialism begins, and by 1800, most of the world is controlled by European powers. Colonialism made slavery desirable to colonial powers. In America, the motivation for slavery was strictly economic; a slave industry was necessary to run the agricultural economy. Demand for slaves decreased when the demand for cotton decreased, but the invention of the cotton gin increased the demand for cotton, which became cheaper and easier to process.

What is the impact of modernity? The U.S. is at a high level of modernity, Europeans also enjoy a high level, other nations are catching up…every country is headed in the same direction, want to create democratic governments and treat women as the U.S. does. All modernity started in the West…it’s a set of institutions like rule of law, religious freedom, literacy, urbanization, free association, personal rights, free elections/popular sovereignty. Modern people don’t frame the world in religious terms, but are motivated by a secular outlook, a scientific world-view. Individualism is primarily important; connectivity to country, tribe, et al is less important. (The cultural message of our time is to “be yourself”) Modern values are inherently valuable, not religious or cultural constructs, not valuable because a religious book suggests it is. Modern values may not be universally interpreted in different contexts around the world…modernity is all over the place, but it is different things to different people. In the minds of the Western civilizations from which it came, modernity is independent of its origins, but an idea like freedom means that as the church is not an intermediary between God and man, so is there no intermediary between the market and consumer or businessperson; in societies with class systems (Brahmin caste is the religious authority), the idea of freedom may not include a lack of intermediaries. Eastern cultures may cherry-pick parts of Western culture without embracing Western culture altogether. Immigrants are regarded differently in the U.S. than in Europe; cultural differences, even in the Western world, are apparent, and manifest socially in the treatment of immigrants. “Alternative modernities” or “multiple modernities” develop; globalization is not a single phenomenon, a lexus/olive tree dichotomy; cultural products are traded as much as goods and services. “Multiple modernity laminated onto multiple globalization.”

How did migration, the ethnoscape, happen? Gandhi took legal training in England and spent 20 years in South Africa before going to India; he was a very global figure before returning to liberate India from British colonial rule. Indentured labor and slavery moved people, albeit against their will, some of who returned to their home countries with foreign ideas. Australia may not stay predominantly white.

The movement of money occurs differently among different groups; in China, local sources of capital are tapped, there is a Pan-Chinese capitalization of Chinese business interests. Costs of labor and materials, and technology are competitive factors; markets for not only finished products but technology to produce finished products are established. European manufacturers sold outdated technology to developing countries, to prevent competition at home from abroad…protected home industries. The Pentagon can only buy so many of the latest fighter plane, and sold outdated fighters to allies. Globalization has ended this technological gap; IBM was kicked out of India for selling older computers in India, but now they are back, and hiring more Indians than before, Outsourcing could not have happened without a level playing field in technology; labs are now opening in Asia. Ideas have moved; novels are the dominant literary form, though only a 300 or 400-year-old form, and began in Europe. Ideas are contained in novels; gender equality was incorporated into novels, in a story about love, in which a woman is a complex character, or the protagonist. Magical realism, as in 100 Years of Solitude, is a Latin American creation, and has become a dominant form. Hollywood movies have also been influential, but Hong Kong gangster films are now the most popular, and a kung-fu fight is an action film requirement.

Reterritorialization – immigrants recreate their worlds in new countries, imagination plays an important role in creating that world, since everything from the old culture cannot be transferred. People who move sometimes try to be truer to their home culture than those in the home country, e.g. Eritriens and Sikhs get more money from those abroad than can be raised at home, those abroad may be inclined to support radicals. Diasporic communities can be more fanatical because they are constructed, imagined.
Globalization will create homogeneity but also heterogeneity; the mixture of homogeneity and heterogeneity will vary from place to place. Globalization produces as much difference as sameness, and different kinds of difference.
Disjuncture is the opposite of convergence, or a general trend in which the direction of culture, economics and politics go together. Not only may there be different levels of convergence in each country, but there may be influences that create disjuncture between cultural, economic, and political practices. Cultural influences in business and politics may prevent convergence, and will not change overnight.


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