Globalization and Culture: Global Mélange

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Globalization and Culture: Global Mélange

In discourses of globalization, there have traditionally been two schools of thought. The first is that globalization leads to homogenization of culture worldwide, while the second is that globalization leads cultures to become rigid and unyielding in order to protect themselves from the outside influences. In Globalization and Culture: Global Mélange, Jan Nederveen Pieterse argues a third concept: that globalization leads to cultural hybridity. Hybridity is the spaces in between, the mingling and intermixing of cultures. A unique factor of Pieterse’s analysis is that it takes a historically deep and geographically wide perspective, arguing that the globalization of culture is not an exclusively modern phenomenon. This book strives to separate globalization from the bonds of modernity, where it has traditionally been analyzed, and apply a long-term human evolutionary perspective. It provides an alternative to the idea that cultures don’t mix, they only overrun or resist. In the hybridity arguments presented, cultures have been mingling and mixing for the entirety of human history. The book first provides a general introduction to the question of globalization, laying out areas of agreement and difference in the existing literature on the subject, as well as the diverse perspectives found in the varying branches of the social sciences, which sometimes disagree on even the most fundamental aspects of globalization. The crux of Pieterse’s argument comes as he lays out three fundamentally varied paradigms of globalization: the “clash of civilizations” view, in which cultural differences are rigid and enduring, leading to conflict; the “McDonaldization” view, where cultural convergence is the direct result of global contact; and the hybridization view, which says that cultures and identities have become mixed as a result of global interconnectedness. The book argues that there are two forms of hybridization at work here:...
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