Football Goes East: Business, Culture, and the People's Game in China, Japan, and South Korea

By Wolfram Manzenreiter; John Horne | Go to book overview

15

Globalisation and football in East Asia

Paul Close and David Askew


Introduction

Globalisation is the set of processes, whereby - facilitated by enhanced global flows of such things as industry, investment, individuals and information (Ohmae 1990, 1995) - the world is becoming structurally (economically and politically) more integrated (see Baylis and Smith 2001) and culturally (ideationally) more homogenised (cf. Berger and Huntington 2002). The world is becoming, in other words, a 'borderless' (Ohmae 1990), 'single place' (Robertson 1992; Scholte 2001).

Ideationally, globalisation is the vehicle whereby the 'Western cultural account' (Axford 1995:2) is being globally diffused, if somewhat unevenly and erratically. Western cultural forms, expressions and items are being adopted, albeit at different speeds, more or less everywhere, including throughout East Asia (see Kim 2000). The growing popularity of football (otherwise known as soccer) in East Asia matches what is occurring elsewhere in the world, and provides a highly instructive example of how the Western cultural account is being presented, or purveyed, to and acquired by a significant non-Western-cultural Other.

For us, an unqualified orientalised interpretation of developments in East Asia - according to which an active, assertive Occident is the font of a cultural complex which is being successfully foisted upon a passive, supine Orient - is misleading. In our view, football provides a case study which demonstrates that East Asia is actively engaged in a dialogue with the West rather than simply accepting the Western cultural account, or for that matter simply rejecting it. To an extent, East Asia is, first, carefully scrutinising what is coming from the West; second, selectively blending Western culture (or cultures) with its own; and third, projecting - or playing - back the results. The outcome is a not insignificant amendment to the cultural content of globalisation. In this way, indeed, East Asia is proactively contributing to the shift towards a truly globalised world: one which in the fullest sense is a single place. What is emerging is not necessarily a world with a single culture. Instead, what may be evolving is a world in which persistent diversity amounts to variations on a single cultural theme. Such an outcome may or may not be conducive to greater global order and stability, dependent as this is not (at least just) on cultural homogeneity, but also on underlying, more fundamental material, or structural factors, rooted in the global political economy.

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