Transnational Learning Network
Ein Schulentwicklungsprojekt
im Comenius-Förderprogramm


Cultural Globalisation - by Ulrich Pappa

While economical questions of globalisation are discussed controversially in the public, the consequences for culture and everyday-life seem – for peculiar reasons -  not to be of any interest.

Especially the USA have - beside their political and economical importance - also got very much influence on cultural issues. Many people are concerned about a “cultural melting-process”, which could become a dreary homogeneous soup.

Another point is, that this is not going to happen under equal participation of all nations, because there are a few mighty nations and still very many weak ones, which could possibly go down during this process.

The distribution of products of western origin throughout the world is increasing. The term “westernisation” or “americanisation” is, what you have to imagine as a fast food eating, jeans wearing and pop-music listening society. And for sure the English language is getting more and more important.

To mention is that even the consumption of imported goods is standardizing. Thus, when an Inuit quietly eats his hamburger, he automatically distances himself from his traditional way of life, in accepting imported goods and philosophies. This way he adapts to a strange way of living. The fact that only the craven industries are responsible for this, most people don’t even think of.

But while there are many ideas to improve globalisation in politics and economics, it is still much more difficult to stop wrong developments in cultural globalisation. This is because laws, taxes etc. are mostly not possible in that field.

But the question is why so many people (especially in developing countries) just take over other cultures, languages and philosophies. The problem is mostly a psychological one, which comes to weight more and more heavy in these times of globalisation. Like linguists say, those languages that are threatened to die out have the appearance to be inferior in relation to the successful world-languages. At first this is English for sure, but also Hispanic (Spanish?), Chinese, Russian and Arabic. Because the European and American culture is flooding the world these times, and because it is economically very successful, this success is automatically linked to the specific culture and language. A language community is only able to resist such a pressure, when it has got a healthy and self-confident connection to its own language. This principle can be transferred to all fields of culture. Thus, the taking over of other cultures has got something to do with a lack of pride towards the own culture.

On the other hand there is more and more intercultural interaction. Well, although many old traditions and ways of living are getting lost, this global interaction is also creating many new culture-forms. Such an interaction has already existed in very old times. At the same time, through institutions like museums, schools and archives less knowledge is getting lost, and through new communication-technologies the access to information is easier. It should also be mentioned that outlines of cultural characteristics are getting better defined against the background of global structures. ‘Cause when you are able to make up your mind to what else is out there, you will soon realize how unique your own and all the other cultures in the world are.

Still globalisation is combined with many problems. Nevertheless it makes no sense to completely turn away from the global movement or to try to reverse the process. For removing those negative aspects of globalisation there have to be well thought out strategies.

To save themselves from the flood of American culture-products, many European states have already set lower value-added taxes for domestic culture products. Additionally there are often minimum-rates for domestic shows in the TV-program. ...these are measures to save domestic culture-goods, but also the culture-industry!

The great losers of globalisation are the developing countries. They are economically weak and mostly still very dependent on the USA - economically and politically.

But nowadays there’s a movement going on, a movement back to their own and original culture. This is a defence reaction, but mostly also a process of self-finding after hundreds of years of colonialisation. Kind of curious… in Africa Christian teachings and philosophies, which had been brought there upon by missionaries, are mostly deeply connected with nature-worships. New - sometimes quite strange seeming - cultures/religions were created. This general process of recollection is happening in parallel with a stronger getting voice of African scholars against globalisation. That is because it is obvious that African countries are going to be the losers of the globalisation process. Most criticised are the statesmen of these countries, who are much engaged in the exploitation of their own country. “More investments in foreign countries”, that is the concept of those governments. This means concretely: Export of natural recourses shall be continued while the people are suffering more and more. This way these countries are getting even more dependent on western economies.

Generally there are often uncertainties about globalisation. So there is also the tendency of turning around the development of globalisation. Then people want to hold on to their intimate region. But this should never mean a cutting off from the rest of the world, but to get the domestic economy back into their own hands.

In my eyes it is most important that people get to know what globalisation concretely means. They should know why USA flags on clothes are modern and why Mc Donald’s can be found in every town. They should come to realize that also much human suffer is combined with this. So that they then can ask themselves the question if this is the right way to go. Because if only economy bosses shall decide the way, I’m sure only they will be the ones who will profit from that.


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