With the development of globalization, the whole world has become a ‘global village’ and cultures are becoming mixed.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this change?
Historically, the idea of a continuous homogeneous culture is actually quite rare: through trade, expansion, conflict and integration cultures have constantly adapted and changed throughout time. Yet the present age, with technological-enhanced speed and scope, is unlike any ever seen before as items, ideas and people can venture across the globe and reach into every corner. The result of this globalization is that geographical and cultural boundaries are increasingly obsolete, creating social melting pots with both positive and negative effects.
There are numerous benefits to having a ‘global village’, and perhaps the greatest is that knowledge is no longer walled within communities or reliant on slow evolution. Progressive ideas such as education, modernisation, health care and environmentalism can all swiftly reach any audience, raising the living standards of many in developing countries and creating positive international discussion. Further to this, skills deficits can be met with immigration, whilst increased contact with overseas nationalities and cultures raises the level of cultural awareness. Finally, businesses and trade can also prosper thanks to expanded and varied markets, rather than being confined by geographic location.
Yet, for all these positives, there is also a flipside to globalization. As those previous cultural boundaries become more liquid or vanish, so conflict and xenophobia are toxic by-products. This is compounded by a perceived threat to entrenched viewpoints and identities by an incoming wave of international products and politics. Persecution and ‘nimby-ism’ (‘not in my back yard’) result from insecurities caused by change and a loss of control. Finally, just as local businesses can bloom so they can also suffer as mass identical consumerism and global brands have proven potential to pulverise individuality and small-time traders in such a way that they are frequently given the adjective ‘rampant’.
All in all, globalization and multiculturalism still have much to give to the world, and the potential of making mixed cultures work far exceeds the benefits of bolting the doors and keeping the status quo. Unfortunately it is also guaranteed to catalyse ill-feeling as cultures come into direct conflict and, as people have discovered throughout history, adaptation is going to be required in order to achieve success. Yet, no matter whether it creates harmony or not, such is the might of finance, technology and politics it appears globalization is not leaving any time soon.