Tomlinson, J. (2004) critiques the view that global integration is leading to cultural homogenization. Identify the differing positions in this debate about cultural globalization and, using examples, justify your own conclusion regarding which position you think is most valid.
In the argument that Tomlinson puts forward in his critique, I want to look at and analyse the different positions he presents when considering a globalised culture, “a single, unified culture encompassing the whole world” Tomlinson (2004a pg 22). He commences by moving away from the “utopian global visions”(2004b pg22) of cultural globalisation to the late-modern idea that is broadly debated today in considering global integration, focussing on the critique of the overall “masterful scenario” of cultural domination that Hannerz (1999 pg23) speaks of. Various theories about the impact of global integration on cultural diversity are covered in regards to cultural homogenisation, for example Robert Holton’s work on the options of assimilation, rejection and amalgamation (see Inglehart and Norris 2009 pg13) of culture, and I want to look at the validity of such theories. Culture definined by Raymond Williams as one of the most complicated words in the English language (see Allen and Skelton 2009 pg 2). Karim Murji (2008 pg 157) describes it simply as “what is distinctive about a group, a community a nation or a people” that is to say their “way of life” “It embodies their ways of making sense of the world, the meanings that they attach to things and practices, and how they are expressed.” One aspect of Tomlinson’s critique is on western culture, and westernisation. The debate that Tomlinson discusses in his writing is in criticism of the idea of a “master scenario” of cultural domination (Hannerz 1999 pg23), looking at it and considering the uncertainties that may mean that cultural globalisation is leading towards homogeneity. He brings forth the idea of globalised culture as westernised culture and the worries that the term “Westernisation” reflecting homogeneous western culture, “threatens cultural diversity”, and brings “the ills of the West on other cultures”. (Tomlinson 2004c pg 23) This argument that westernisation is akin to cultural imperialism in its imposition of its own commodities and ideologies upon other cultures. Spreading assimilation, or “convergence of national cultures around western values”(Inglehart and Norris 2009a Figure 1.1 pg13) Friedman (1994), Hannerz (1991) and McQuail’s (1994) critique of western cultural imperialism mentions the threat of westernisation on fragile and vulnerable cultures on the peripheral of global networks. The example of Bhutan, being the “last nation on earth to switch on television” in 1999, has brought to that land said “social-ills” through technology that is ingrained firmly in the culture of the West (Inglehart and Norris 2009b). Through the exposure via television to other ways of life outside of the pacifistic Buddhist culture, common standards of the West have crept through, changing the traditional peaceful norm, to a more violent, crime featuring way of life that is to an extent, standard, in western culture. Thomas McPhail would no doubt specify the case in Bhutan as an example of “electronic colonialism” and hold it up as an example of the dangers of cultural imperialism. (See Inglehart and Norris 2009c pg 28) Boyd-Barret (1982), Schlesinger (1991), Sinclair (1992), Tomlinson (1991, 1995, 1997) reject that it is possible to place scenarios such as this under the broad term of westernisation. Simply because there are many aspects to what is deemed western culture and westernisation, not all of which are transferred and assimilated into a culture, and definitely not all at once. Commodities and ideas have their own time flows. Tomlinson(1991, 1995) also notes alongside Hannerz(1991) the concept of Westernisation is not a practical possibility in the sense that it is an ethnocentric view...
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