Does Globalization Kill Ethos and Diversity?

By Cowen, Tyler | Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

Does Globalization Kill Ethos and Diversity?


Cowen, Tyler, Phi Kappa Phi Forum


Basketball, Nike[TM], McDonald's[TM], and Madonna are now available in most parts of the world, no matter how poor or remote. It is therefore no surprise that critics, such as Benjamin Barber and John Gray, fear for the future of world culture. They charge that the world is becoming one big shopping mall, causing non-Western cultures (and perhaps Western culture as well) to falter in their artistic creativity.

The notion of ethos describes the special feel or flavor of a culture. We can think of ethos as a background set of assumptions for viewing the world. The combination of ethos and technique gives a creative era its particular "feel," or its stylistic and emotional core. In short, the fear is that the world will end up with a single ethos, and an unattractive one at that.

I wish to offer a more optimistic perspective on global culture. My vision of globalized culture looks to Hong Kong cinema, the novels of Garcia Marquez, the Cuban music of Buena Vista Social Club, the successes of Australian Aboriginal art, and the amazing proliferation of ethnic dining. Culture lovers have never had more quality choices than today, and artists have never had more opportunities to reach audiences. Insofar as we have a "global shopping mall," it delivers many diverse styles to eager fans around the world. To see why I hold these optimistic views, let us step back and examine how trade influences ethos.

FRAGILITY AND THE PROBLEMS OF ETHOS

An ethos can be weakened or destroyed by external influences. Artists can lose their creativity if they learn too much about other approaches. Contemporary musician Beck, an eclectic purveyor of rock, country, and blues, makes the point succinctly: "You can't write a pure country song any more. You can't write a pure Appalachian ballad. Because we live in a world where we've all heard speed-metal, we've all heard drum-and-bass, we've all heard old-school hip-hop. Even if you're not influenced by it, or you're not using elements of it, they're in your mind."

Some degree of isolation can inject self-confidence and a sense of magic into an art. Many creators view their endeavors as imbued with great religious and mythic significance, and as having central importance for the unfolding of history, in reality, they may be just another craftsperson in the eyes of most observers, but their creativity will be greater if this knowledge is not rubbed in their faces. Art and creative power, to some extent, rest on illusion and delusion, most of all in the minds of artists.

That being said, ethos relies on trade as much as on isolation. It is no accident that Classical civilization developed in the Mediterranean, where cultures used sea transport to trade with each other and learn from each other. Trade relations spread the spirit of learning throughout Europe during late medieval times, starting in northern France, the Low Countries, and Italy. The mobility of scholars, painters, manuscripts, and scientific ideas gave birth to the Renaissance and its artistic glories. The development of the United States, another formative event in Western history and cultural history, owes its existence to trade and resource mobility.

It is impossible to look at culture without noticing the importance of trade. For instance, Jamaican music did not take off until African-American rhythm and blues music was imported. Jamaican migrant sugar workers were exposed to R&B during their trips to the American South in the late 1940s, and they brought back a taste for the music. In the 1950s, Jamaican listeners picked up rhythm and blues broadcasts from New Orleans and Miami radio. Louis Jordan, Fats Domino, and Chuck Berry were especially popular in Jamaica. (Jamaicans tended to prefer loping, less hurried rhythms, rather than the Delta Blues of Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters; this continues to be reflected in reggae music.) The Jamaican ska tunes of the early 1960s, the first breakthrough for Jamaican music, reveal strong influences from doo-wop, swing, crooners, and the softer forms of rhythm and blues. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Does Globalization Kill Ethos and Diversity?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.