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Argument: Globalization does not lead to the homogenization of culture

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Argument summary

Globalization does not homogenize cultures. Instead it brings people of different cultures together, where they continue to uphold their cultures. In New York, commonly cited as a globalized metropolis, diversity exists to the extreme. A diversity of foods, performances, celebrations, and other cultural expressions exist. This is one of the appeals of the city, and something that its residents and visitors come to expect and demand. For sure, most people want to experience diverse things in the place that they live. Thus, there is a demand for cultural diversity. Demand is naturally met by supply. In this way, it is natural to expect that a continued demand for diversity in the world will be met by a continued supply of diversity. Globalization, therefore, will probably propagate the New York model, where global diversity is demanded and preserved in cities and countries. Homogenization of cultures is, in this way, an unlikely outcome of globalization.

Supporting evidence, quotes, links...

  • “Dynamic Traditions: Why globalization does not mean homogenization” By Richard Volkmann “Culture is a framework of meaning, as aspect of virtually any causal factor one might identify, not a separate causal factor of its own. It is the background that provides the linguistic framework with which we understand the world around us.” [Lavoie and Chamlee-Wright, 2000,14] In this sense, culture does not impact social change; rather, it gives the very vocabulary of social change.This alone should make it clear that “market forces” are only causal vectors in an already given cultural context.“Market forces” are an expression of a culture.They are not independent of or opposed to culture, since it is only in virtue of one’s antecedent culture that one can evaluate and pursue or reject competing courses of action.As already noted, “cost” and “quality” are abstract notions that refer to the willingness of market participants to buy or sell at a given price. Cost and quality are thus relative to the choices of buyers and sellers; it is their perception of cost/quality that entirely determines market incentives. Those perceptions, in turn, are informed by the background culture that gives agents their particular framework of meaning.Economists as diverse as Friedrich Hayek and Amartya Sen have emphasized, “Economic considerations are merely those by which we reconcile and adjust our different purposes, none of which, in the last resort, are economic." [Hayek, cited in Sen, 1999, 290] Seen in this light, “market forces” cannot determine or compete with culture,since culture entirely determines the relevant market values.Since the description of market forces is an abstract representation of competition within a cultural framework rather than in competition with culture,market analysis offers a powerful tool for understanding the dynamics of cultural evolution,and it is precisely the product of run-away cultural evolution that most worries critics of globalization.To be adaptive and functional in a changing environment, cultures need to leverage vast quantities of decentralized, local,and tacit knowledge. The marketplace of ideas does exactly that."

Counter argument

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