While there’s probably a general agreement that “globalised cultural forms” – from fast food to films to football – are increasingly coming into existence, students need to be aware there are debates over both the exact forms these globalised cultures take and the impacts they make.
They need to consider this in terms of how local and national cultural forms and behaviours may be changed by globalising tendencies and, counter-intuitively perhaps, how local and national cultural forms and behaviours modify and change various forms of globalising culture.
To this end, this PowerPoint Presentation outlines some of the key features of three different interpretations of the impact of globalised cultural forms:
1. Convergence and Homogenisation: The main thrust of this view is that cultural differences between societies gradually breakdown and, in some cases perhaps, disappear, as societies adopt cultural ideas and attitudes that are broadly similar in style and content. Key ideas here include McDonaldisation, McWorld Culture and Coca-Colonisation – ideas that suggest one of the key drivers of “globalised culture from above” is the behaviour of large-scale global corporations.
2. Diversity and Heterogeneity: This view reflects the claim that the ebb-and-flow of different cultural ideas and influences across the globe creates hybrid cultural forms: different cultural ideas and practices meet, mix and match to create “new forms of difference”.
Where convergence and homogenisation reflect a rather pessimistic view of the “destructive” and “smoothing” cultural influences of massive global corporations – global cultural forms overwhelm, crowd-out and replace indigenous cultural practices – this view suggests the reverse: globalised culture involves the spread of local or national cultural ideas and practices across the globe. These are picked-up, shaped and changed to suit the needs of different groups across and within different societies in a way that could be handily described as “globalising culture from below”.
3. Homogeneity and Diversity: The third view recognises and combines elements of both previous views. It argues there is convergence and homogeneity within global cultural groups but diversity and heterogeneity between such groups. Groups of like-minded individuals, for example, share certain cultural similarities across national boundaries, but these groups are potentially many and varied.
The Presentation provides a general outline of these views and acts as a starting-point for further exploration and discussion – particularly around the implications of each view for our understanding of globalised cultures.