Globalizing Trends … Essay
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¶ … Globalizing Trends on the National Culture of the United States
Globalization has a number of different meanings, with economists regarding globalization as a process that is more completely integrating the world marketplace, while political scientists may consider globalizing trends as a gradual move from conventional definitions of the state that are characterized by territorial sovereignty and the development of nongovernmental actors in the world order (Farazmand, 2002). Likewise, many academicians view globalizing trends as being so many steps towards a so-called "borderless world" while other analysts consider the trends as being fueled primarily by the private rather than the public sector (Farazmand, 2002). Irrespective of the precise definition that is used, a common feature of globalizing trends is the issue of national borders and how these borders have become more porous in recent years. A good example of this process can be found in the highly multicultural United States. To determine the facts, this paper provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature to determine the impact of several key globalizing trends on the national culture of the United States, namely homogenization, deterritorialisation, hybridisation and transnationalisation, followed by a summary of the research and important findings concerning these issues in the conclusion.
Review and Analysis
Some analysts believe that globalizing trends that are reshaping the national culture of the United States are destroying the traditional "American way of life. Although the traditional American way of life may have only applied to a certain demographic in the past (read rich white Americans), these critics are lamenting the impact of homogenization on the national culture nevertheless. In this regard, Giardina and Metz (2003) note that, "American cultural critics have argued that in 1990s America the nation has been involved in a crisis of identity, a struggle between who and what counts (and will count) as ideal 'American' subjects" (p. 203). Rather than making the United States a more egalitarian country, the theory goes, the globalizing trends that are driving the homogenization of the nation are manifesting themselves in spheres of influence, each with a different set of interests. As Giardina and Metz conclude, "This perceived crisis of national identity is grounded in the belief that what has traditionally been deemed the 'American way of life' has become threatened at the hands of various bodies operating within the space of the nation, each exerting more and more influence on the nation and its citizens" (2003, p. 203). Indeed, if this theory holds true, globalizing trends are having the opposite effect from homogenization, making the United States a nation of enclaves of self-interested actors uninterested in assimilation or learning the English language who share little in common except time zones and geographic borders.
Other analysts, though, argue that globalizing trends are homogenizing the United States in fundamental ways. Although the United States is no longer referred to as a "melting pot" but rather a "tossed salad" today, it is clear that globalizing trends are fueling homogenization of the national culture of the United States. For example, Hamilton and Huntley (2001) report that, "In this age of political and economic centralization, mass communications, and increased physical mobility the trend is undoubtedly in the direction of homogenization. In the United States today, for example, the North and South differ much less in the character and quality of black-white relations than they did in the past" (p. 15).
Certainly, race relations remain at the forefront of the American political discourse, particularly in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri shooting and the nationwide demonstrations that have ensued, but the fact that Americans of all colors and creeds are taking part in these demonstrations is proof positive of the increasing homogenization of the national culture of the United States. In this context, homogenization does not refer so much to the blending of bloods but the blending of cultures, with people electing to take what they like from one and applying to their own. In fact, President Barack Obama's recent efforts to reform the nation's immigration laws to provide illegal aliens with an opportunity to become legal naturalized citizens speak volumes concerning the willing acceptance of the American culture for the cultures of other nations.
The United States is an enormous country that contains more than a third of a billion people with several different ethnic groups, religions and even languages as shown in Table 1 below.
Demographic breakdown of the United States
Ethnic groups* white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61%
Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4%
English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%, other 0.7%
*A separate listing for Hispanic is not included because the U.S. Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean persons of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin including those of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republic, Spanish, and Central or South American origin living in the U.S. who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.); about 15.1% of the total U.S. population is Hispanic
** The U.S. has no official national language, but English has acquired official status in 28 of the 50 states; Hawaiian is an official language in the state of Hawaii
Source: CIA World Factbook at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook / geos/us.html
Some other indications concerning the current national culture in the United States can be discerned from Geert Hofstede's several culture dimensions. The Hofstede cultural dimensions for the United States are set forth in Table 2 and depicted graphically in Figure 1 below.
Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions for the United States
Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. It has to do with the fact that a society's inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders. One of the most salient aspects of inequality is the degree of power each person exerts or can exert over other persons; power being defined as the degree to which a person is able to influence other people's ideas and behavior.
This score is the highest in the world. The American premise of "liberty and justice for all" is evidenced by an explicit emphasis on equal rights in all aspects of American society and government.
This score is high and can be seen in the typical American behavioral patterns. This can be explained by the combination of a high Masculinity drive together with the most individualistic drive in the world.
Americans tend to be more tolerant of ideas or opinions from anyone and allow the freedom of expression.
The United States scores normative on the fifth dimension with a low score of 26 as reflected by the fact that the U.S. is the one of the only "Caucasian" countries in the world where, since the beginning of the 20th century, visiting church has increased. This increase is also evident in some post-Soviet republics such as Russia.
This dimension is defined as the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised. This score makes the U.S. A relatively high indulgent society
Source: Adapted from Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions (2014) at http://geert-hofstede.com/united-states.html
Figure 1. Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions for the United States
Source: Based on table in Hofstede (2014) at http://geert-hofstede.com/united-states.html
Taken together, the score on individualism, the highest in the world, with its emphasis on "liberty and justice for all" makes it clear that despite being a "Caucasian" country (this is changing rapidly as noted in Table 1 above), the United States has an increasingly homogenized culture that embraces and celebrates cross-cultural differences, but this generous tolerance level only applies if these cross-cultural differences are not viewed as being threatening to the "American way of life." Another globalizing trend that has affected the national culture of the United States is deterritorialisation as defined and discussed further below.
While the national culture of the United States has become more homogenized as a result of globalizing trends, these same trends have served to deterritorialised the nation's laws far beyond its own borders. Without even taking into account the military adventures that the U.S. has waged over the past century, this process has become even more intensified in the post-September 11, 2001 United States as evinced by the actions of the national government. For instance, Ciomos (2010) emphasizes that, "We have all noticed how the authentic deterritorialisation of law as in the famous Patriotic Act decreed by the president of the United States two days after the attacks from September 11, 2001" (p. 18). In fact, some analysts maintain that deterritorialisation is an inevitable concomitant of… [END OF PREVIEW]
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