Do we have global culture?

There are significant resonances here with academic depictions of globalization. I have argued elsewhere that an ‘economic-homogenization’ model of globalization is becoming increasingly dominant, in both academic and popular usage, which focuses attention on the improved combination of the global economy and its homogenizing effects on state policy and culture (Eschle 2004). Such a model is prevalent in International Relation (IR).

It is characteristic of liberal IR approaches that support globalization, skeptical refutations of globalization as exaggerated and ideological, and critical IR theories that condemn globalization as profoundly damaging. It is with this last, critical, approach in IR that we find the strongest resonance with activist discourses. Both activist and academic critics share the assumption that globalization equates with the neo-liberal economic developments described above.

Then, in an extremely significant move, these developments might be linked to the underlying structures of the economy and globalization reinterpreted as the latest stage of capitalism. According to Klein, ‘the critique of “capitalism” just saw a comeback of Santana-like proportions’ (2002:12). The global culture is usually used in contemporary academic discourse to distinguish the experience of everyday life in specific, exclusive localities. It reflects ordinary peoples’ feelings of suitability, comfort, and precision attributes that define personal preferences and rapidly varying tastes.

In this framework, it is hard to argue that an overarching, global culture in fact exists. Jet-setting sophisticates can feel comfortable operating in a global network severed from specific localities, but the numbers involved are, as yet, insufficient to comprise a rational cultural system. For the majority people, place and locality still matter. Even the diasporic discussed by Appadurai are entrenched in local communities (sometimes several) tied together by universal perceptions of what constitutes a proper and fulfilling lifestyle.

Many software engineers and Internet entrepreneurs who live and work in Silicon Valley, California, maintain homes (and strong social ties) in the Indian states of Maharashtra and Punjab. Rather than searching for substantiation that a world culture already exists, a more productive approach is to focus on features of life that are affected by the globalizing process. Modern research by anthropologists and media specialists makes obvious that globalism is not an invincible, unidirectional force that levels everything in its path.

David and Anthony McGrew have depicted recent debates over globalization as divided among three general positions: the hyperglobalist, the skeptic, and the transformationalist. Briefly, the hyperglobalist understands contemporary globalization as heralding a new epoch of human history driven by the free movement of global capital and characterized by the inevitable rise of a world civilization that will result in the end of the nation-state. The skeptic, on the other hand, argues that this understanding of globalization is greatly exaggerated.

Focusing on economic factors, the skeptic argues that there is nothing unprecedented about current levels of national interdependence, and that nation-states continue to be and will remain the primary political and economic actors in international affairs for the foreseeable future. In contrast, the transformationalist understands the current epoch as one of unprecedented change. But unlike the hyperglobalist, the transformationalist argues that the direction of this process remains uncertain and in contest.

The transformationalist disputes the claim that the sovereign state is a thing of the past, but also challenges the claim that states remain as strong as ever. He argues rather that globalization transforms the relationship between states, markets, sovereignty, and the transnational sphere. It challenges the governing and legitimating capacities of old political arrangements, domestically and internationally. And it thus adds new incentives to the search for political innovation. (David and Anthony McGrew, 2002) To understand cultural changes one must draw a feature between form and content.

Outward appearance and first impressions are approximately always deceptive; what matters most is the inner meaning that people consign to a cultural innovation. numerous theorists, including both opponents and proponents of globalism, task their own attitudes onto the people they assert to represent assuming that all humans see the world in the similar way. The perceived “sameness” of global culture often reveals the expectations of the analysts, relatively than the perceptions of those who are the subjects of analysis. Misunderstandings of this nature thrive in the literature devoted to globalism.

Basically, the world emerges to be poised on the edge of an enormous cultural change. But if Modernism is finished as a society, what will take its place? The unenthusiastic assessment is that nothing will. Some statesmen, such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, have claimed that the world is already “out of control” (Brzezinski 1993). Others, like Daniel P. Moynihan, have warned of the cultural anarchism and “pandaemonium” that might result if tribalism runs amok and Modernism as a set of civilized principles is permissible to collapse (Moynihan 1993).

These writers advocate that modern civilization be cosseted and preserved before it is too late. But conceivably it already is too late. If it is true that the forces that reason the corrosion of modern values are mainly the result of technological and demographic changes on practically a global scale, they are not easily dismissed. In this rising world society, the great question is not whether modernisms will invasion in the coming clash of civilizations, but whether any civilization will survive at all.