Globalizatoin the Face of Globalization: Forecasts, Trends Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1329 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Anthropology


The Face of Globalization: Forecasts, Trends, and Possibilities

Critics of globalization have charged that one of the most significant dangers of the global phenomenon is the threat of cultural homogeneity. This is the process by which local and regional cultures are absorbed or destroyed by multinational corporations that replace local culture with a standardized monoculture. In general, this monoculture is characterized as either American or Western; usually when critics relate homogenization with Westernization, however, they exclude many European cultures, which are seen as allies in the fight against globalization. The reality of globalization is not so simple. Corporate powers are not colluding with power-players in American culture to re-make the world in the American image. Cultural homogeneity, to the degree to which it occurs, is a product of consumer and individual choice less than of corporate design. Consequently, we can imagine the formation and continued development of a global society that is not necessarily Americanized, or even Westernized.

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First, it's important to understand the economic impetus behind cultural globalization. In "Economic Globalization and Political Atrophy," Carl Boggs writes: "Economic globalization is the systematic expansion of corporate capital across national boundaries in search of markets, raw materials, low-cost labor, and technological advantage" (303). All globalization, whether it is cultural, political, or technological, occurs as a result of economic globalization. The flow of capital across national boundaries is the medium through which globalization occurs. The charge by critics of globalization is that the transnational flow of capital is also culturally transformative and modifies local markets and cultures by rooting out sources of competition and replacing them with Western/American-friendly cultural expressions.

Term Paper on Globalizatoin the Face of Globalization: Forecasts, Trends, Assignment

An oft-cited example of this process is Starbucks, the Seattle-based coffee chain that has achieved near global ubiquity. In 2003, Starbucks opened its first store in Zurich, Switzerland -- the reported birthplace of European coffee. Critics of this opening believed the corporate chain would run local businesses out of the market and replace the local variety of coffee with corporate-designed coffee drinks. Some even called for the implementation of "strong democracy," which would use government-controlled bureaucracies to control the expansion of transnational corporations like Starbucks and protect local shops (Kuhl 55). Such a system is one means by which we could create a global society that was not necessarily Americanized. After all, if another level of bureaucracy can simply rule on what characterizes appropriate and inappropriate corporate growth, then there would be little fear cultural homogenization.

This solution does not produce a truly free global society, instead producing a totalitarian one. Large transnational corporations such as Starbucks and Wal-mart and McDonald's provide easy targets for globalization critics. All are powerful corporations with extensive holdings and very visible and recognizable storefronts. When a new McDonald's opens up in a small town in China, no one mistakes it for a local mom-and-pop operation. It is branded as a product of economic globalization that is actively engaged in supplanting local cultural offerings. Critics are quick to argue that corporate expansions such as Starbucks' Zurich opening represent the vanguard of wholesale cultural homogenization.

There are two major problems with this approach to the development of a global society. First, it assumes that culture is entirely a consumable product. While it is true that culture is largely material in nature, which is not the same as saying that all culture can be bought and sold in the same way as hamburgers and cups of coffee. Even if the products introduced into new markets can completely supplant local offerings, which is not the same thing as saying that those products are also replacing the local culture -- as if local culture is little more than a collection of mom-and-pop storefronts.

For the moment, however, let's assume for the sake of argument that cultural homogenization really does hinge on the expansion of corporate interests into transnational markets. This still does not lay any blame on the corporations, when we consider what is actually happening when Starbucks opens a new coffee shop in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Globalizatoin the Face of Globalization: Forecasts, Trends.  (2006, November 19).  Retrieved March 30, 2020, from

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"Globalizatoin the Face of Globalization: Forecasts, Trends."  19 November 2006.  Web.  30 March 2020. <>.

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"Globalizatoin the Face of Globalization: Forecasts, Trends."  November 19, 2006.  Accessed March 30, 2020.