Adverse Impact of Globalization on Culture: its Consequences
The agreed upon rule of a dynamic society is that complacency prevents social change. If the established order is something that the majority of society feels is adequate, then there will not be any motivation to improve upon the system, whatever that system may be. I chose the concept of Globalization and its adverse effects for this impact of globalization on culture essay because it is generally acceptable in society to state that the current implementation of global interdependence in the social, economic and cultural realm is the only feasible way a modern man will survive. The argument is that while in the past, citizens of different nations and regions could live without each other; this is not the case anymore. This argument is correct. However, the concept of Globalization is far from perfect. I believe that while the idea of globalization is crucial and overwhelmingly valuable; effects and opinions of globalization seem only to represent the beneficiaries. While many may argue that the immoral practices and negative ramifications of globalization do not affect them, this issue affects everyone. Whether they consider themselves to be a part of general society or Canadian society, in this essay, will be explaining the impact of globalization on culture, politics, and economy.
Firstly, the globalization has impacted through its effect on the forms of individual and collective identity. Entire cultures now have to question what values truly define them, and many people around the world are abandoning parts of their personalities in an attempt to conform with the world society’s new ideas of normalcy and conformity. There are two very significant effects of this popular move toward involuntary social change are Americanization of physical beauty standards, and loss of native culture.
One impact has been in the beauty industry. While the paradigm of fashion is constantly changing, and the concept of beauty is subjective, common definitions of beauty have been slowly shifting towards American ideals. These ideals tend to focus on fair-skinned people being the epitome of elegance. An extremely negative e ramification of this “Americanization of the beauty industry” is the widespread existence of shadism in countries such as China and India. Shadism is the concept of prejudice towards individuals based on the colour of their skin, and exists around the world, the impact of this form of discrimination varying depending on the region. The source of this prejudice often being from people within the victim’s own race. The idea dates back to the concept of the social hierarchy on plantations in the American colonial era. To sum up the concept of shadism, the whiter your skin is, the more beautiful you are. As a result of this, thousands of Asian people, predominantly women, use a variety of techniques to attempt to lighten their skin. This has become a widespread epidemic among Asian cultures, and in the fashion industry worldwide. Techniques range from skin lightening “creams” to simply avoiding sunlight from touching the skin. These practices make the people who use them to feel more physically beautiful. The existence of these misguided actions is a direct effect of the widespread promotion of American values as perfection, and is caused by the globalization of ideas. While the spreading of ideas is essential to the education of international society, the increasing influence of some cultures creating negative ramifications in others is not healthy for a community hoping to progress past the infighting we’ve seen among humanity throughout history. Shadism is, unfortunately, not a foreign concept. Allowing this form of discrimination to continue has affected minorities, and is not just felt in distant countries thousands of miles away, but here in Canada.
Another negative cultural impact of globalization is the loss of language and culture, sometimes leading to total extinction. This, like the evolution of beauty ideals, is also due to the overwhelming influence of some cultures being imposed on less influential nations and regions. It is caused by the existence of a small isolated community being merged into a larger entity, usually another country at a time or rapid progression and expansion. Over time, this formerly separate community loses its sense of identity as the original population disperses into the larger over-taker. As a result, the character of the city as a whole is lost, often for good. Native languages and cultures are being lost around the world as the further merging of nations continue as greater society continues its rapid march towards true globalization. In Australia, Central America, and here in Canada, indigenous people are slowly losing their history due to the forced assimilation of their nations into greater society, for fear that they will be left behind as society progresse. A prime example of this issue, as previously mentioned, happens here in Canada; specifically, in the province of Ontario. While it is not necessarily the extinction of a language, in this case, the slow demise of a former indigenous Nation is starkly evident. The people of First Nation tribes have two options in modern Canadian society, either they relocate to an area far away from the land their elders were forced onto centuries ago in hopes of achieving a better life; or suffer in third-world living conditions on reserves that have been deemed cruel and inhumane by the informed general public. Give up your traditional values in pursuit of a better life, or preserve your culture and suffer in communities plagued by mass suicides and limited access to necessities for human life. A choice that is not just found in Canada, but many areas that native people have been living for thousands of years. This wave of societal assimilation and cultural extinction is causing the slow but steady disappearance of cultures here in Canada, and around the world as well.
Another of the main effects of globalization are population increase in more industrialized first-world countries which affects the question of the existence of different cultures of the world, because in fact cultures mix with each other, developing only the leading ones. Cities in countries such as the United States, Canada and Great Britain have doubled or tripled in size due to the population influx caused by people emigrating from their native countries hoping to achieve a better life for themselves. As a result of this, globalization has forced created a class system in many countries where this influx is occurring, where necessities of life are often not a priority of many governments whose preferences should be on the wellbeing of its citizens, not the growth of its GDP. An example would be housing in an urban area, while a few decades ago a house was considered the social norm for urban residents, it is now wholly unsurprising to find a family of 8 living in a one-bedroom apartment in an over-inflated housing market, and barely being able to make ends meet in an economic environment not concerned for the livelihood of its average citizens. Equitable distribution of food, adequate health care facilities, and the quality of education are sadly no longer real concerns, as it does not benefit the political agendas of the governments in some of these countries.
Besides, the main arguments of people in favour of unregulated globalization are the citing of the decline of inequality between nations and cultures. Through modernization and globalization, countries are now moving from unreliable primary industries such as farming to more stable secondary sectors such as manufacturing. While this point is correct in saying that countries considered to be third or second world have more money and resources than they have in the past and inequality between countries has declined, the economic gap between citizens within a country has risen drastically. An example of this would be the electronic waste manufacturing town of Guiyu in the People’s Republic of China. The city of Guiyu is a former farming community that, out of desperation, has turned to recycle electronic waste and to sell the valuable materials found inside back to the manufacturers who make the products. Theoretically, this industry is easier to work in than in farming, but the workers in Guiyu who break down the waste do not genuinely benefit. The environmental turmoil in the local community is apparent, and while it is less work to do than farming; they make roughly the same amount of money that they would be farming. The real benefactors are the original manufacturers, who buy the salvage at a discount price. They then turn around and make products for first-world consumption, making massive profits off of this. The people do not advance; they have enough to survive, while the corporations continue to profit and expand. The wealth of China grows because of globalization, but the wealth gap between individuals within the country develop as one group benefits, and one group has just enough to survive. My belief is that this is not economic equality, but a form of economic autocracy. With an elite ruling class that continues to strive; and no opportunities for the lower level to rise up in the economic hierarchy of society.
While globalization needs to continue for modern civilization to progress further than it already has; the inhumane treatment and disregard for fellow human beings by benefactors of the system is not logical. The means of success do not justify the abuse of anyone, let alone a large percentage of the world’s population. While globalization will continue with or without the approval of this paper, the message of it is that progress cannot go unchecked. Humanity as a whole needs to decide what boundaries for social, political and economic ramifications need to be created for not only society itself to progress, but all of the people who make up our society whether they’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company in New York City, United States or a garment worker in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Only then, when true equity is established for every member of our global society, can we genuinely state that we’ve learned from our mistakes and progressed beyond our inhumane history.