Globalization and Cultural Identity

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TGT2eC23 19/03/2003 10:40 AM Page 269 23 Globalization and Cultural Identity John Tomlinson It is fair to say that the impact of globalization in the cultural sphere has, most generally, been viewed in a pessimistic light. Typically, it has been associated with the destruction of cultural identities, victims of the accelerating encroachment of a homogenized, westernized, consumer culture. This view, the constituency for which extends from (some) academics to anti-globalization activists (Shepard and Hayduk 2002), tends to interpret globalization as a seamless extension of – indeed, as a euphemism for – western cultural imperialism. In the discussion which follows I want to approach this claim with a good deal of scepticism.…show more content…
The drive towards ‘globality’ combines a logic of capitalist expansion with the rapid development of deterritorializing media and communications technologies. But this drive is opposed by various processes and practices expressing different orders of ‘locality’. Amongst these we can count the cultural identity movements that Castells focuses on, but also less formally organized expressions of identity, for example, those involved in local consumption preferences (Howes 1996). And, on quite another level, we have to add the considerable cultural effort exercised by nation-states in binding their populations into another culturalpolitical order of local identification. This more complex formulation clearly implies that cultural identity is not likely to be the easy prey of globalization. This is because identity is not in fact merely some TGT2eC23 19/03/2003 10:40 AM Page 271 Globalization and Cultural Identity 271 fragile communal-psychic attachment, but a considerable dimension of institutionalized social life in modernity. Particularly in the dominant form of national identity, it is the product of deliberate cultural construction and maintenance via both the regulatory and the socializing institutions of the state: in particular, the law, the education system and the
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