Beyond shared economic, environmental and political concerns, globalization is having a profound, and in some ways unexpected, effect on world culture. Only a few years ago, as markets integrated and the Internet extended its reach across the globe, many nations viewed globalization as a threat to their individual cultures, fearing that globalization would result in a watered-down, banal and bland worldwide pop culture. In many cases, the opposite is occurring.
A Cultural Tug-of-War
While globalization does have a leveling influence, providing the same sort of goods and services to every corner of the globe, that influence is being countered by broader access to information, education and opinion made available on the Internet. While humans are inherently social creatures, with hard-wired propensities to participate in social groups, they also have built-in desires to differentiate themselves from outside groups. Culture is both being threatened by globalization and sustained by it.
As time spent in front of computers and mobile devices increasingly isolates people from physical interactions, online communities continue to flourish. The startling and overwhelming success of social networks is evidence of this phenomenon. Even those with the most obscure interests, beliefs or tastes can now participate in communities filled with like-minded individuals. Rather than further isolate people, participation in these online communities is encouraging real-life cultural participation as well. From political protests to flash mobs, instant and constant communication is propelling people into the broader community.
Globalization and Participation
Globalization has made it easier for people to differentiate themselves from one another while at the same time allowing people to join together in culturally diverse groups. The implications and repercussions of this cultural tug-of-war over time are still unknown. A worldwide reliance and dependence on Internet technology presents its own set of challenges. While it’s clear that globalization is a paradigm shift for humankind, the effect of globalization on world culture over the long term remains clouded.