Is Globalization, Cultural evolution or an Orientalist Project?

Globalization is an urban sociological phenomenon , which has been well documented by social theorists such as Manuel Castells and Saskia Sassen, Globalization as a force is breaking down traditional values in some societies but at the same time nurturing them in places which are not their ‘home grounds’. Korean Pop for example is superbly popular in SE Asia and with Asian Diaporas globally. Globalization in its cultural avatar, as an expression of soft power started with Satellite TV with CNN beaming the 1990 Gulf War in to our living rooms.  The MTV-ization of popular culture with American TV music and TV shows flooding our TV screens was the first phase of cultural globalization. The internet catalysed the second wave of globalization with Google powering this era. Social Media has been the harbinger of the best aspects of technology surcharged Globality; free information exchange between borders and turning a passive consumer into a prosumer, a person can create content as this blogger and post it online and try to form opinion in the community of the like-minded.  Information cross-fertilization and cross pollination can help evolve cultures. Twitter helped information exchange which led to the Arab Spring making an ordinary ex Google Executive Wael Ghonem a Hero. Well, now Wael Ghonem is an entrepreneur trying to make daily commute in Cairo better.  Cultural Transformation requires the crutches of good old politics to make the ‘change’. Cultural Change is often carried out on a slow, civilization scale based time metric. The FMCG-ization of culture is a by product of globalization but real change and not superficially deep alterations take time and a lot of effort to sink in its roots.

Globalization initially was considered a manifestation of the Americanized Ethos. American ‘Soft Power’ as coined by Joseph Nye, a Harvard Academic has been at the forefront of the trifecta of Culture, Media and Politics shaping cultural conversations globally. Globalization can also be considered An Orientalist Project; a cultural invasion to carve the social landscape of the developing world in the image of the declining west.  With the advent of Web 2.0 with the power of the web in our smartphones, the west is in reverse being exposed to a ‘PSY’ doing his Gangnam Style moves or kids jiving to a A R Rahman track in the clubs of Berlin.

These anecdotes symbolize, the opening up of a two way street which brings out a cultural concoction which is a synergy rather than a subtraction.  Traditional values cannot be stuck up in a time wrap. They are contextual with time-space coupling. Time always progress and technologies will always change and hence alter cultures. Its better to embrace rather than resist.  The Question in the Title is always open for debate.


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