Social Sciences: The Big Issues

By Kath Woodward | Go to book overview
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Chapter 6


All over the place?


Globalization has become a familiar term in recent years. It may even have become a commonplace and overused term for a whole range of diverse developments in politics, economics and culture, where the term is broadly used to cover the growing connections between societies worldwide. At one level it seems as if we live in a world where globalization has become part of everyday life. In almost any major world city you can see the familiar yellow M signalling the presence of a McDonald's fast food outlet. Globalization can be seen as focusing on the marketplace and the availability of goods around the world. Brands such as McDonald's have global status because of their market availability. This is an availability that is the result of the successful promotion of US products across the globe. This has extended to parts of the world that it was previously thought the US market could not reach, for example Russia, China, the states of what was formerly Eastern Europe. This is a success measured by the presence of a McDonald's in Beijing and Budapest and even the advertisement shown on US television in 1997 of the Russian President Gorbachev in a Pizza Hut restaurant. Terms such as 'McDonaldification' and Disneyfication' have been coined to describe, albeit somewhat simplistically, this marketing phenomenon. The whole process has become much more sophisticated, as Naomi Klein argues, taking a critical stance on global marketing, in her book No Logo (2001). Klein argues that it is no longer possible to identify the signs of US-dominated marketing and we are presented with a cultural mix, what she calls a 'market masala'. This 'masala' involves a cultural mix, for example in advertisements targeted at young people in the 'teen market' of black and white 'Rasta braids, pink hair, henna hand painting, piercing and tattoos, a few national flags Cantonese and Arabic lettering and a sprinkling of English words' (2001:120). Klein claims that this kaleidoscope represents a new departure in globalized markets.

Today the buzzword in global marketing isn't selling America to the world, but bringing a kind of market masala to everyone in the world a bilingual mix of North and South, some Latin, some R&B, all couched in global party


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