Does Globalization Render People More Ethnocentric? Globalization and People's Views on Cultures

By Machida, Satoshi | The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, April 2012 | Go to article overview

Does Globalization Render People More Ethnocentric? Globalization and People's Views on Cultures


Machida, Satoshi, The American Journal of Economics and Sociology


Introduction

In recent years, the world has gone through a number of drastic changes. As our lives go through significant transformation, the term "globalization" has become extremely popular as a concept describing various phenomena in the world. However, despite a large number of studies on globalization, no agreement exists regarding the real impacts of globalization (Guillen 2001). While some scholars emphasize positive impacts of globalization (Bhagwati 2004; Wolf 2004), others warn of its potential danger (Kim et al. 2000; Rodrik 1997).

Clearly, one of the most controversial issues regarding globalization is its impacts on cultures (see Holton 2000; Wimmer 2001). Some scholars claim that globalization tends to destroy the diversity of local cultures, emphasizing the strong forces of American and Western influences (Schiller 1976; Van Elteren 2003). Since globalization creates a similar culture around the world, this perspective is called the "homogenization" thesis (see Holton 2000). However, other scholars present different views on cultural globalization. They argue that cultural globalization can lead to "hybridization" (Hannerz 1992, 1996; Tomlinson 1999) or "polarization" (Barber 1995; Huntington 1993, 1996) among different cultures (see Holton 2000). These different perspectives predict divergent outlooks of cultures in the era of globalization.

As these debates represent, we have not fully understood the relationship between globalization and cultures around the world. One of the most serious shortcomings of these previous studies is that they have not paid enough attention to individuals' attitudes toward cultures. Because most of these studies focus on a small number of cases, they fail to draw a widely applicable conclusion (see King, Keohane, and Verba 1994). Therefore, the purpose of this study is to systematically analyze the relationship between globalization and cultures. More specifically, this study explores how globalization affects "ethnocentrism" at a cultural dimension, since the notion of ethnocentrism is highly useful in examining people's cultural attitudes (see Sumner 1906). I address this research question by adopting the Pew Global Attitudes Project of 2002 and 2007. Also, one of the innovative approaches in this study is that I employ the KOF index of globalization (Dreher 2006; Dreher, Gaston, and Martens 2008). The multilevel analyses relying on these datasets find that social and economic dimensions of globalization reduce individuals' tendency toward ethnocentrism. Consequently, this study advances our understanding of the relationship between globalization and people's cultural attitudes.

In this study, I address the research question by taking several steps. First, I review key studies exploring the relationship between globalization and cultures. Second, after explaining the notion of ethnocentrism, I present testable hypotheses regarding how globalization can influence ethnocentrism. Third, I describe the data and the measurement strategy of the variables that are used in statistical analyses. Fourth, I conduct multilevel analyses by relying on hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). I also report the findings from the statistical analyses. Finally, I conclude this study by discussing the implications from the statistical analyses. Dissecting the mechanisms through which globalization affects ethnocentrism, this study makes an important contribution to the literature of globalization.

Globalization and Cultures

As the term "globalization" becomes more and more popular, numerous studies have been conducted on the impacts of globalization. The popularity of the term reflects its critical importance in a rapidly changing world. Mittelman (1996: 2) suggests that globalization is deeply related with various issues including "the spatial reorganization of production, the interpenetration of industries across borders, the spread of financial markets, the diffusion of identical consumer goods to distant countries, massive transfers of population within the South as well as from the South and the East to the West, resultant conflicts between immigrant and established communities in formerly tight-knit neighborhoods, and an emerging world-wide preference for democracy.

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