Imagine all the cultures in the world. Listen to the music—from the gentle drum beats of Africa, to the melodic didgeridoo of Australia, to the scream of the electric guitar. Taste the curry from India, the coconut milk from Thailand, the cheeseburger from the United States. Now imagine that all these cultures are compressed into one super-culture.
The individually unique music is now a raucous disharmony. The individually savory flavors are a muddled sludge. All the countries in the world are united under one government and one religion. How would we deal with that? In light of rapidly accelerating globalisation and expansion of technology, it becomes relevant to discuss the implications of a potential overarching culture with respect to the potential clashing of cultures.
The late Marshall McLuhan, a media and communication theorist, coined the term “global village” in 1964 to describe the phenomenon of the world’s culture shrinking and expanding at the same time due to technological advances that allow for instantaneous sharing of culture. The claim that it is possible for all the cultures of the world to become one global village is controversial, though. On one hand, people believe that if it continues, cultural globalisation will lead to a marketplace where countries of all economic opportunities are represented and where more fortunate countries come to the aid of less fortunate ones with humanitarian efforts. On the other hand, people are afraid that the evolution of a global village will raise conflicts between cultures, cause a division of culture, or lead to cultural domination by more developed countries and possibly create “hybrid cultures” (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler, 2012, 458).
Critics of globalisation charge the phenomenon of globalisation, especially seen through pop culture, is perpetrating a kind of cultural extermination on the world. In this view, globalisation is in fact another word for Americanisation. America is blamed mostly for its alleged burden of culture and mass media; however, other developed countries in China and Europe are also at fault as they reinforce American Culture globally. A primary example used to justify this claim is MTV and Hollywood, both large American media networks that extend their influences far outside of American borders.
However, others argue that globalisation offers the potential to enrich the world culturally. To these people, globalization is not an evil change being thrust upon society. It is a progression of how people interact with each other given advanced capabilities to communicate. With enhanced communication, though, comes the realisation that some nations are less financially capable of supporting their citizens than others. The harsh realities of poverty, starvation, disease and civil war are now made more evident to those who live in privileged countries. It would make sense, therefore, if individuals used the excuse to not help less fortunate people in the world because they were not aware of their suffering, they could no longer ignore the pain that exists outside their comfort zones.
With these changes comes a responsibility to consider the implications of our shifting realities. If we are in fact becoming a global village, will we be able to reach some sort of agreement about how these issues should be addressed in order to benefit all members of our village equally? If we cannot determine respectful cultural boundaries in the simplest manner with regards to language, economy, and basic means of survival, it is presumptuous to assume that we can identify as a global village at all.
O’Shaughnessy, M and Stadler, J (2008) ‘Globalisation’, Media and Society (fifth edition) Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 458-471.
Khorana, S 2015, ‘International Media and Communication’, powerpoint slides, BCM111, University of Wollongong, viewed 5 August 2015