A globalizing world

Recounting the pros and cons of global assimilation


Consumerism - Jessi Wood
Graphic by Jessi Wood

When we think of globalization, it is almost impossible to forget the benefits of technology the process wields along with it.

We think of how interconnected the world has become, we think of the many opportunities that we now have access to because of the increased amount of online services and developments in technology, transportation, media and communication.

We think globalization and we think inevitable. On the other hand, as the world becomes interconnected it also gets disconnected.

Cultural diffusion engulfs new societies and the cultural collage is framed into one big picture as opposed to skipping through an album. Take for example a multinational corporation like McDonald’s.

At present, McDonald’s operates over 35,000 restaurants worldwide in at least 118 territories and countries — in countries as far as Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Thailand.

We’re all having happy meals and Big Macs. We’re all familiar with the tag ‘Made in China’ that’s on 90 per cent of our clothes, shoes and accessories.

The economies of these exporting countries benefit tremendously, but this easily leads to a case where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

The reality of this also shows us that while we are somewhat different we are gradually moving towards “sameness” — a sameness that is being driven and extended by the forces of globalization.

While some may see this as a relatively good thing, it calls into question the truth behind cultural diversity.

It beckons others to think of the de-popularization, or even elimination, of what is unique to different cultures. Globalization, according to Manfred Steger in his book Globalization: A Very Short Introduction, is the buzzword of our time that describes a variety of changing economic, political, cultural and technological processes that are transforming our experience of the world.

It goes unquestionably that the introduction of new, varied ideas, health practices, political ideals and technology to different places are a relatively good thing.

The processes by which these relatively good things are brought to different spheres in the world are often seen as advantageous, but the extent to which it is advantageous differs greatly in different countries.

Regrettably, the spread of Western culture, more so the predominance of American pop culture as well as political and economic influence around the world, cause many developing countries to regard globalization as a form of “Americanization” that weakens the fabric of their traditional societies.

Native traditions lose their place in the society as the spread of a language and other elements of culture cannot be interpreted outside of a social context.

One cannot help but imagine what the world will be like 10 or 20 years in the future.

While the continuous expansion of a multinational corporation like McDonald’s may employ thousands of persons and introduce different foods to different countries, the drawbacks to its popularization often go unnoticed.

Many cultural foods, dishes, languages are lost and replaced by those that embody the cultures of Western societies.

According to the National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project, every 14 days a language is lost.

English has become one of the most popular languages for doing business in the world and while this is a great achievement, every time another language dies we lose part of the picture of what our brains can do.

Needless to say, it is an ongoing, inevitable process that provides both negative and positive impacts.

However the degree of these impacts is almost never the same across the board.

Globalization will have different effects on each country and only time will tell how far the boundaries will stretch or disappear.

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