Are Globalisation and Cultural Imperialism Destroying Traditional Culture?

Globalisation is a driving force in today’s international society that is being pushed forward by the innovations and advancements in technology. But what is Globalisation? According to O’Shaughnessy and Stadler (2012 p. 458) “Globalisation refers to an international community influenced by technological development and economic, political, and military interests,” and that it “…could lead to the homogenisation of world cultures, or to hybridisation and multiculturalism.” Some people fear that globalisation has an insidious nature and see it as a force that will allow certain cultures to dominate others, this is what we call cultural imperialism.

A form of cultural imperialism that is quite popular could include the culture of online gaming. Online gaming allows players to engage in a characteristic of globalisation called interconnectedness, the “…communication and the formation of communities and relationships across geographic, racial, religious, and cultural barriers” (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2012 p. 459). Curran et al. (2005 p. 623) talks about gaming consoles like the Xbox and how players are now more sociable than ever with the use of headsets which allow them to carry out conversation “…easily between team mates in squad- based wa[r] games like ‘SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals’.”

Online gaming allows players from around the world to engage with each other, but, this gaming culture could be viewed as an aid to cultural imperialism as it might distract youths and adults from engaging and learning about their traditional culture, thus, eliminating it. Through Appadurai’s five dimensions of global cultural flows, we can hypothesise that a downward spiral of cultural imperialism could be causing the erosion of traditional cultures. Appadurai’s five scapes are the: technoscape, financescape, ethnoscape, mediascape, and ideoscape, and do not “…look the same from every angle of vision but, rather, that they are deeply perspectival constructs…” (Appadurai 1996 p. 33).

  • Technoscape: gaming technology is distributed and made available globally
  • Financescape: companies profit from disseminating games to the public and use their acquired monies to make better games
  • Ethnoscape: a wide variety of ethnic people play these games and sacrifice their time which they could be spending engaging with their traditional culture
  • Mediascape and Ideoscape: people engage in playing these games, engaging with games that may or may not promote violence through the act of playing violent games.

These five scapes help to illustrate the downward spiral of cultural imperialism that could be eating away at traditional cultures. Despite this hypothesis, there does not seem to be any real need for concern as O’Shaughnessy and Stadler find that cultural imperialism is undermined by a number of things. One such thing is that globalisation has not lead to dominance of traditional cultures or global harmony but has rather created a “…complex process of adaption, appropriation, hybridisation, and mutual incorporation of different cultural texts and traditions as the media spread knowledge of different cultures around the globe” (2012 p. 468). In relation to gaming, people are not likely to be playing games 24/7 and probably engage in a type of hybridisation that is more common in today’s society.

References:

Appadurai, A 1996, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimension of Globalisation, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Curran, K, Canning, P, Laughlin, M, McGowan, C, Carlin, R 2005, ‘Online Gaming’, American Journal of Applied Sciences, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 622-625

O’Shaughnessy, M, Stadler, J 2012, Media and Society, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Pattberg, T 2012, a picture of black and white text in English and a language of Asian descent, image, The East-West Dichotomy, viewed 18/08/2014, <http://www.east-west-dichotomy.com/what-is-language-imperialism/>

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