Culture and Global Change

Culture and Global Change

Culture and Global Change

Culture and Global Change


Culture and Global Change presents a comprehensive introduction to the cultural aspects of third world development. It contains 25 chapters from leading writers in the field which each offer their own particular take on "culture" and explore the significance and meaning of cultural issues for different people in different parts of the contemporary world. With chapters dealing with the importance of "Third World" cultures but also with changes in Russia, Japan, the USA and the UK, this book considers the relationship between culture and development within a truly global context.


Tracey Skelton and Tim Allen

This is a book with a very grand title. We need to begin by explaining what it means, and, equally importantly, what it does not. This is a little easier with respect to 'global change' than it is for 'culture', so let us start with the former term.


Global has become a popular adjective in recent years. There are three main reasons for this. The first is simply the lack of an alternative way of indicating the whole world. The expression 'worldly change' would carry quite different connotations. Indeed, it might suggest that this book is about the promotion of moral values.

The second reason is that there is a generally recognised need for terms to describe world-wide events and processes. A variety of factors, including the end of the Cold War and the rapid economic growth of several East Asian countries, has rendered conventional ways of categorising the world into parts redundant, or at least much more problematic. If there is still usefulness, for example, in a label like 'Third World', it is to point to shared histories rather than to regions which can be lumped together as a clearly delineated category. Moreover application of the expression 'Third World' has to be tempered with awareness of the growing integration of aspects of social life in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Oceania with aspects of social life in the 'First' and 'Second' Worlds, particularly (though not exclusively) for élite groups.

A third reason for the choice of the word 'global' relates to this integration. Several chapters presented here specifically focus on it and comment on some of its consequences (e.g. Tomlinson, Atkinson, Lidchi and Beckles). Since the mid-1980s a fascination with connections across the world has resulted in a large literature on 'globalisation'. Some of the analysis has focused specifically on matters like the radical changes in financial transactions or the spread of CNN-style real-time television. Other scholars have viewed globalisation as a more pervasive phenomenon which is transforming, or may be about to transform, virtually everything. From this perspective, globalisation is understood as the key quality of the contemporary situation. In numerous publications, a great deal of space has been allocated to the elaboration of a sophisticated, diffuse, and often rather obscure, range of general models and hypotheses, all of which attempt to come to terms with the enormity of what is occurring.

This book has determinedly avoided such an approach. It is likely to be of most interest to students of globalisation not for its abstractions, but for its investigation of examples (of which there is a striking paucity in most publications on the subject). Several of our contributors are in fact very sceptical of the far-reaching assumptions and vague assertions made in the globalisation discourse, and suspect that there is a considerable element of 'old wine in new bottles'. Certainly for millions

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