Globalization entered everyday English usage in the early sixties, following the periodical of Marshall McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy (1962). Malcolm Waters, a principal authority on the subject, defines globalization as a “process in which the limits of geography on social and cultural arrangements retreat and [as a consequence] people become ever more aware that [such constraints] are retreating” (1995, p. 3). The term global is an astoundingly recent creation, appearing for the first time in the 1986 second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.
The OED’s definition of globalize is easy and to the point: “to render global. ” In globalization “a large and increasing proportion, whether native or immigrant backgrounds, are also people with little or no education and few Marketable skills” (Cohen and Kennedy: 75). The impact of the new world economy has been just as great on North South relations as on North-North. For one thing, as Manuel Castells suggests, some parts of the South are becoming increasingly irrelevant and marginal to the world economy.
In other parts, the possibilities for information-based development are there, but a totally different set of new policies is required. These policies would have to be based on the development of human productive potential. In the closing chapter, Fernando Henrique Cardoso makes this case and goes a step farther. In popular usage, globalization is associated to the idea that advanced capitalism, aided by digital and electronic technologies, will ultimately obliterate local traditions and creates a homogenized, world culture.
Critics of globalization argue that human experience everywhere is becoming fundamentally the same. Homogeneity-Heterogeneity Globalization is both Homogeneity-Heterogeneity as it “refers to both of the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole”; in other words, it covers the acceleration in concrete global interdependence and in consciousness of the global whole (Robertson 1992: 8).
It involves the crystallization of four main components of the “global-human circumstance”: societies (or nation-states), the system of societies, individuals (selves), and humankind; this takes the form of processes of, respectively, societalization, internationalization, individuation, and generalization of consciousness about humankind (Robertson 1991: 215-6; 1992: 27). Rather than referring to a multitude of historical processes, the concept above all captures “the form in terms of which the world has moved towards unicity” (1992: 175).
This form is practically contested. Closely linked to the process of globalization is therefore the “problem of globality” or the cultural terms on which coexistence in a single place becomes possible (1992: 132). What is identity? Identity as “the incorporated pattern of human behavior that includes thought, speech, action, and artifacts and depends on man’s competence for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations” and “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material behavior of a racial, religious, or social group.
” These definitions point to numerous important aspects of culture. First, culture permeates all human behaviors and interactions. Second, culture is shared by members of a group. And third, it is handed down to newcomers and from one generation to the next. This description of culture is not aimed at organizations but is very appropriate to them (AAhad M. Osman-Gani & Zidan, S. S. 2001, pp. 452-460). Stuart Hall writes on the question of cultural identity in the Caribbean:
“The issue of cultural identity as a political quest now constitutes one of the most serious global problems as we go into the twenty-Wrst century. The re-emergence of questions of ethnicity, of nationalism—the obduracy, the dangers and the pleasures of the rediscovery of identity in the modern world, inside and outside of Europe—places the question of cultural identity at the very centre of the contemporary political agenda” (1992).
The actual process of globalization has been erratic, chaotic, and slow. Some observers of modern politics argue that a basic version of world culture is taking shape among extremely educated people, particularly those who work in the rarefied domains of international finance, media, and diplomacy. Hyper elites of this nature make up what Samuel Huntington (1996) calls a “Davos culture,” named after the Swiss town that hosts yearly meetings of the World Economic Forum.
Whatever their ethnic, spiritual, or national origin, Davos participants are said to follow a identifiable lifestyle characterized by consistent behavior (social ease, aristocratic manners, and the ability to tell jokes), technological complexity (knowledge of the latest software, communications systems, and media innovations), complex understanding of financial markets and currency exchange, postgraduate education in influential institutions, common dress and grooming codes, similar body obsession (dietary restraint, vitamin regimes, fitness routines), and a control of American-style English which they use as a main medium of communication.