Globalization, a process characterized by major integration of economies and cultures, is becoming rife and with it a shift in the way society operates. As communication technologies advance and transportation means become faster and more affordable, the world is slowly turning into a global village where reduction of barriers between nations is upper most in the mind of all. This trend has as its basis the philosophy the notion that a harmonized world whereby cultural differences are reduced and similarities expounded on is feasible. Globalization has resulted in some positive attributes which have made people view it as a benevolent phenomenon. However, globalization does pose some significant challenged to the society especially with regard to cultures. This paper shall argue that the intercultural connection that arises from globalization helps to fuel greater cultural conflict.
To reinforce this claim, this paper shall review some of the significant effects that are as a result of globalization. The various manners in which globalization has resulted in conflict will also be highlighted.
Globalization Leading to Conflict
One of the key features of globalization is that it seeks to create cultural homogenization. For this reason, globalization has been accused of eroding local cultures as well as the national identity of a people. This has been perpetrated mostly through the electronic media which creates multiple cultural exchanges that are consumed all over the world (Blum 92).
The homogenization in question is mostly along the Western culture lines and this might lead to discourse in a nation. Blum asserts that a state which has always relied on its unique cultural environment might find its ability to govern undermined by cultural homogenization (94). As such, the state may be unable to perform certain aspects due to its being undermined as a result of cultural integration which arises as a result of globalization. Local values, rights afforded to the individual and even human rights differ from one culture to another.
Globalization purports to harmonize these by importing or exporting values which are to be adopted by all nations. This has resulted in conflict as some countries remain opposed to some of the practices that are interchanged through globalization. Schwirtz and Yaffa elaborate on this by giving an example of the gays in Moscow who are persecuted for their sexual orientation (1). This is because homosexuality is viewed as an imported Western value and the Russians are unwilling to embrace or even tolerate this practice which is viewed as perverse. The rights of gay members of the society are therefore not respected and instances of violence against this minority group are rife in Moscow. One of the primary characteristics of globalization is the widespread immigration of people. This phenomenon has resulted in people leaving their traditional societies and joining other societies which are alien to them. Fukuyama reveals that once a person moves to a new locality, they run the risk of losing their personal identity which might previously have been supported and therefore protected by their local society (2).
This might result in radicalization as in the case of radical Islamism and jihadism. On the same note, Giddens directly connects globalization to the psychological health of a people by stating that as a result of rampant globalization in the Western countries, people have been forced to seek more therapeutic and counseling services to help them cope (Giddens 47). This is because globalization has resulted in the shrinkage of tradition and custom as cultures are integrated at previously unprecedented frequencies. As such, the individual’s sense of self which was previously sustained through the community is eroded and this “self-identity” has to be recreated over and over again (Giddens 47). Huntington proposes that with time, civilization identity will take prime importance in the lives of people and as such, “conflicts will occur along the cultural fault lines that separate one civilization from the other” (25).
The author proposes that the difference between cultures has taken centuries or even millenniums to cement and as such, these differences cannot be expected to disappear overnight. Globalization has resulted in increased interactions between people of different civilizations. This has led to the intensifying of “civilization consciousness and awareness of differences between civilizations” (Huntington 25). This invigorated differences result in animosity towards the people of different civilizations.
Positive Attributes of Globalization
Not all effects of globalization are negative and globalization has been seen to lead to more interdependency of countries which results in an increase in positive diplomatic relationships among nations. If properly handled, globalization can result in prosperity as opposed to cultural conflict. Fukuyama demonstrates that by use of tools such as citizenship tests and classes for young citizens, the negative effect of cultural erosion by globalization can be offset and national identity preserved (6). In addition to this, immigration results in an economic dynamism which has positive implications for the country.
Opponents of globalization state that it leads to the doing away of local traditions. Giddens asserts that “it would be wrong to think of traditions as impervious to change since traditions do evolve over time and with each passing generation” (40). As such, the traditions that people hold dear are bound to change over time with or without the globalization process playing a part. Giddens goes on to suggest that for a practice to be traditional, it must not have necessarily existed for centuries (41). Instead, it only needs to have been practiced repetitively. This “detraditionalisation” brings about the possibility of greater freedom as people are freed from the constraints of the past (Giddens 47).
Discussion and Conclusion
Historically the most violent conflicts have resulted from differences between cultures. Most of the products of globalization have a western influence owing to the power of the Western civilization. This has led to a trend whereby non-West nations have taken up active measures in attempt to shape the world in “non-Western” ways. Bearing this in mind, local culture and traditions should not be rubbed out for the sake of uniformity which is what most proponents of the globalization process advocate.
Instead, the local identity of a people should be preserved but made accommodative to the outsiders who join the local community as a result of globalization. Measures can be taken up to ensure that globalization does not cause the absolute disappearance of local culture. Some countries have proposed coming up with national cinema which are viewed as safeguards to “prevent society from being utterly corrupted by global popular culture (Blum 92).
This paper set out to demonstrate that globalization may result in the fueling of cultural conflicts. To reinforce this claim, the paper has reviewed some of the cultural consequences that have been attributed to globalization. From the discussions presented herein, it is clear that globalization has the potential of fueling conflict between cultures since globalization results in the bringing together of different cultures which would otherwise not have interacted.
To offset this effect, measures should be undertaken to ensure that cultural integrity of a people is respected. Local culture should also take precedence over universal values and practices which globalization seeks to instill on people.
Blum, Douglas. National Identity and Globalization. NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Fukuyama, Francis. Identity and Migration. Prospect Magazine Issue 131, February, 2007. Giddens, Anthony. Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping our Lives.
Routledge, 2003. Huntington, Samuel. The Clash of Civilizations? Foreign Affairs; Summer 1993; 72, 3; ABI/INFORM Global pg. 22 Schwirtz, Michael and Yaffa, Joshua. A Clash of cultures at a Square in Moscow.
The New York Times, July 11, 2007.