Three Questions of Cultural Globalisation

by Hiroki Matsukura

We have several issues around cultural globalisation, such as the conflict between globalism and localism. On this post, I would like to focus on three topics which cultural globalisation is facing, in my opinion. These three topics, or questions, challenge us on whether we continue to cope with cultural globalisation in the way we are doing at the present.

The first question about cultural globalisation is a suspicion on the equality of each culture in midst of the globalisation. In other words, when we treat cultures in globalisation, each of them has its own power to influence people’s lives in the world. Some are stronger and others weaker. For example, as we experience now, the American and the Western European cultures affect our lives around the world very much. They are so powerful that globalisation seems to mean the global access to the Western cultures. On the other hand, taking a look at the Bolivian culture, for instance, we notice the difference of treating between them. With an extreme strong expression, people perhaps will see globalisation as a Western non-territorial invasion. In international society, culture can be a form of soft power. Thus, cultural globalisation has a competitive nature among cultures as one of its characteristics. That may be associating to exclusiveness of one culture from others.

The second is the possibility to strengthen the situation in which culture leaves its essence. Cultures can be stated as consisting of the home land and/or ethnicity. However, because of the globalisation, cultures are leaving them. Last Christmas, I went to my Italian friend’s place in Rome, and experienced a traditional catholic Christmas. It was totally different from what I had imagined. In the dinner of Christmas and its Eve they did not eat meats, and the cake was not decorated. They visited churches in the night. They celebrated Christmas for almost whole a week since the Eve. They visited their kin and ate together. Actually, it was quite similar to the tradition of the Japanese New Year’s Day fiesta. There is a possibility that others’ cultures we got to know through globalisation are not genuine, or are faked. Moreover, when we read foreign books, see foreign films, and listen to music from overseas, we may face a difference of norms. We might get completely different feelings from the native people’s feeling while touching on the culture. Even though we do not notice the difference, the norms, the basis of culture, should be completely different from what we, outsiders to one culture, imagine about it. We possibly will misunderstand the cultures from others. Thus, the questionable point is whether the globalisation can transport real and genuine culture toward others.

The third is a point that cultural globalisation is not moral globalisation. Similarly to the difference and gap of each cultural norm, the idea of morality on each culture is not same. Even if we would like to transport our moral idea to others, we might not know whether we could or not. Culture as form can be easily transported, but when it comes to think about the mentality on culture, the transportation will be not easy as the norms show us. Which side, left or right, of escalators standing on is still a cute matter. Probably, respect toward lives or the value of violence will be not same on each culture. This is not a small gap.

With these three questionable points, however, we cannot stop globalisation. It already has preceded our recognition. It cannot be helped as a fact though we have to try not to let the situation be. This is because the gap of recognition and the exclusiveness of our cultures might be leading us to much larger misunderstanding and turmoil. In the situation that the values and goals of each culture are different, the cultures are facing power-relationship and a sort of race now. Since our mixture and co-existing with others through cultural globalisation, we will need to strive to revise the influence of our cultures.

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