Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Economic Globalization: An Episode in Cultural Homogenization?

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Economic Globalization: An Episode in Cultural Homogenization?

Article excerpt

Abstract

Globalization is one of the latest dominating issues of the everyday ways of life. The lives of ordinary people everywhere in the world seem increasingly to be shaped by the roles of local-global power dynamics. The global development agenda on the notion of empowering the local people incorporates this coordination of power dynamics, which indicates the notion of changing the traditional forms of everyday life. In this process, the western development partners promote the economic globalization with their own agenda, which organized and shaped the standpoints of local people. In this paper, I explored the interrelationships between economic globalization and the changing forms of local cultural lifestyles in Bangladesh. In this process, I chose (1) to pose the topic of culture in the title as the form of a question; and (2) to define culture in its broadest context. I am struck by the dominant presumption in the literature of the inevitability of globalization and the inference of its permanence. What is required is a new and inclusive perspective that has the capacity to embrace a wider domain beyond economics and which is driven by the imperative of social justice and the integrity of national cultures.

Keywords: Bangladesh; Culture; Development; Globalization; Homogeneity; Social Process; Technology.

Introduction

Globalization is the latest 'spin-off effect' of the 1970s New International Economic Order (NIEO). Those who champion globalization seem to want to replace the Scandinavian style democratic socialism as the engine of reform preferred by developing countries (Francis, 2004: 76). The by-products of capitalism, including modernity (since, replaced by post-modernity), urbanization, industrialization, and technology are the 'instruments' used to promote globalization. With the help of information technology, the developed countries have seized the opportunity to try and reshape the world order to their likeness. This new political-economic environment is a mix of intense competition among the developed countries for strictly economic advantage that is combined with a condescending and paternalistic outreach to the developing countries. Although there has been lots of talk and ink spent in promoting globalization, the picture emerging is one that is heavily skewed in favor of the economic rationale supporting business, dismissal of the complex world of the labor sector and only scant attention given to non-economic issues (i.e. social structure). The best example of a one-sided orientation was the last (July 2005) failure of developed countries (notably USA and France) to reach agreement on ending the national farm subsidy programs by their governments. The cheaper agricultural products of the developed world (reflecting the national subsidy programs) and the application of the World Trade Organization protocol on 'open markets' allow products from developed countries to enter developing countries at prices lower than the cost of production incurred by the Third World farmers.

The world witnessed the spectacle of the Presidents of France and USA, each claiming to be willing to end farm subsidies in their country if the other would guarantee that they would do the same. Each blamed the other and neither one would offer a guarantee, and so the conference ended and was recorded as a failure. Was it a lack of personal trust or a game to accommodate a powerful domestic political farmers lobby back home? This power dynamic reshaped the lives of ordinary people everywhere in the world, many times for the better: globalization is "the process of strengthening the worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local events are shaped by circumstances at other places in the world" (Giddens, 1990: 64). For example, many rural people of Bangladesh used "Fa" soap, which is allowed to sell in the context of local-global power dynamics. It is under those circumstances that I will explore the relationship between economic globalization, technology, and the threat of global cultural homogeneity in the context of Bangladesh. …

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