Culture Convergence

Topics: Culture, Globalization, Intercultural competence Pages: 7 (2441 words) Published: April 17, 2013
In recent times, the globalization topic is one of the most discussed issue across the world. With globalization, countries has started to build stronger economic ties and be increasingly reliant on each other as it has never be. Some researchers argue of cultural convergence; that is, as two countries become closer with each other, they will be more likely to influence each other's culture, thereby bringing the two different cultures to be more similar. For example, the popular culture, which originates from Western European and America, is often to be said to influence the developing Asian countries' culture, and is often dubbed as Westernization (Leung et al, 2008). Conversely, there are many that argue also of cultural divergence; which is the belief that each nation's culture are deeply rooted in the countries' history, so that even if outside culture try to influence the belief and attitude of the people, the difference between cultures can still be maintained, and can even increase over time (Axelrod, 1997; Turnbull & Sheehan, 2012). Hofstede (1980) defined four dimensions of culture that describes the fundamental similarities and differences of human behavior and decision making process that forms part of culture. These dimensions will be valuable for measuring cultural convergence or divergence. They consist of masculinity/femininity, power distance, individualism/collectivism and uncertainty avoidance. Power distance is the dimension of which inequality of power is expected and accepted as normal by the less powerful members of organization and society. Masculinity/ Femininity is the measure of which society is oriented towards 'masculine' value : competitiveness, assertion, success , good performance, etc. instead of 'feminine' value: kindness, caring, empathy, etc. Individualism/Collectivism measures to what extent society lets each individual care for their own: more individualism means that the ties between individuals in the society is more loose. Uncertainty Avoidance is the measure as to how much the members of the society avoid risky behaviors and stay the conservative way. This essay will try to discuss whether countries has experienced cultural convergence or divergence, by first looking to the cultural divergence phenomenon, and then the cultural convergence phenomenon, and finally comparing both and giving recommendation as to how the risks of the phenomenon observed can be mitigated. Discussion

Cultural Divergence
Axelrod (1997) argued in his model that local convergence may cause global polarization. He contends that the convergence in society will stay in local area only, as the culture converge in a region that have nothing in common with neighboring regions. This causes local regions to have culture convergence, but in the bigger area, the difference between cultures remain stable, thus increasing polarization or cultural divergence. Axelrod (1997) also argues that polarization level gets higher if there are a few dimensions of the culture, many alternative traits on each dimensions, and if the size of the region is large enough to allow for many cultures, but small enough for the change process to finish before all cultural boundaries are dissolved by the spread of cultural traits. Further, Klemm et al. (2003) argued that the level of perturbation to a culture influences how the culture drifts. They argued that perturbation, up to a level, will bring a culture to converge together, but when the perturbation or influence is high enough, the culture will split into several sub-culture, meaning the culture has been polarized or diverged. This phenomenon can be attributed to several reasons, such as preference for more extreme views, geographical isolation, social differentiation (tendency for groups to differentiate themselves compared to other groups), drift, the in and out of fads and fashions, specialization and changing environment or technology (Axelrod, 1997). There are...
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