Globalization and cultural identity


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Globalization and cultural identity

  1. 1. GLOBALIZATION AND CULTURAL IDENTITYFernando Alcoforado *1. IntroductionThe process of globalization is not a recent phenomenon. He began in the fifteenth andsixteenth centuries with the discovery of America and the sea route to the Indies.Throughout human history, the process of globalization has produced a growingintegration in the whole planet, not just economic, but also political, social and cultural.This integration between nations and people did not always so idyllic. Many peopleworldwide were integrated through the subjugation economic, political, social andcultural, when they were not decimated by force of arms by the great powers of thetime.One of the main impacts produced by the process of globalization occurred in culturalterms, given that the dominant powers have always sought to impose at all times theirideology on countries and peoples dominated. This ideology, which is, according toBobbio (1986), a set of ideas and values relating to public order and having the functionguide collective political behavior, need to express themselves in cultural terms.Throughout history, the dominant powers sought to impose their culture at the expenseof local cultures. Many of these cultures were annihilated and others who survived,adjusted to the culture of the dominant powers.In the contemporary era, the process of globalization is to make the globalization ofcapital to take root in all corners of the Earth. Every nation of the world faces today, notjust with the threat of social exclusion of the fruits of economic progress and loss ofnational sovereignty of their countries, but also with the possibility of missing theircultural traditions as a result of the spread of globalized culture. To understand howcontemporary globalization threatens national cultures, we need to know its origins andits consequences.* *Fernando Alcoforado, 73, engenheiro e doutor em Planejamento Territorial e DesenvolvimentoRegional pela Universidade de Barcelona, professor universitário e consultor nas áreas de planejamentoestratégico, planejamento empresarial, planejamento regional e planejamento de sistemas energéticos, éautor dos livros Globalização (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC- O Brasil e a Nova(Des)ordem Mundial (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, SãoPaulo, 2000), Os condicionantes do desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia (Tese de doutorado.Universidade de Barcelona,, 2003), Globalização eDesenvolvimento (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento do Século XVI ao Século XXe Objetivos Estratégicos na Era Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions ofthe Economic and Social Development- The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. MüllerAktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e CatástrofePlanetária (P&A Gráfica e Editora, Salvador, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil ecombate ao aquecimento global (Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011) eOs Fatores Condicionantes do Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012), entreoutros. 1
  2. 2. 2. Origins and consequences of contemporary globalizationThe process of globalization or global economic integration that is recorded today is theresult of the occurrence of five major events. The first one concerns the end of the ColdWar resulting dismantling of the socialist system in Eastern Europe led by the formerSoviet Union, a fact that led to the end of the bipolar world opened after World War II.This event led to the expansion of the world capitalist system with the incorporation ofthe countries of the former socialist bloc in Eastern Europe. Some remaining socialistcountries such as China and Cuba, have also opened their economies to foreign capitalin order to attract investment.The second major event that contributed to globalization was the exhaustion ofindustrial growth model based on the production of consumer durables, with highlycapital intensive technologies, the demanding high energy consumption and pollutingthe environment. The exhaustion of the capitalist model of industrial growth isdemonstrated by the decline in growth rates as well as the productivity of capital andprofit margins of industrialized countries over the past three decades. This situationmade it to become a requirement on the one hand, the changing technological paradigmsand business management aimed at raising levels of capital productivity and profitmargins and on the other, to promote the integration of the economies of developedcountries with the developing countries in order to promote their growth.The third major event determinant of globalization concerns the rapid expansion ofglobal financial markets in the late 1970s, stimulated by their deregulation and theadvent of new information technologies. According to Oman (1994), with exchangetransactions exceeding $ 600 billion per day to the end of the 1980s and a trillion dollarsper day in 1993, financial globalization has considerably reduced the power of thecentral banks control over the amount of currency, exacerbated financial instability andfluctuations in exchange rates due to speculation and decreased the autonomy ofmonetary and fiscal policy of governments.The fourth major event that decisively contributed to the process of globalizationconcerns the globalization of multinational enterprises both in manufacturing and inservices. The expansion of the financial markets and the "real" economy was stimulatedby deregulation and new information technologies. The globalization of multinationalenterprises has resulted, according assertion Oman (1994), the spectacular growth offoreign direct investment especially in the second half of the 1980s.The fifth major event determinant of globalization concerns the ecological threats suchas population growth, thinning of the ozone and global warming due to the greenhouseeffect which now deserve a comprehensive approach to global character especially inthe late 1980s. The prospect that the Earths population, which will reach 10 billionpeople by the year 2050 impact negatively on the resources of the planet and theunsustainability of the current development model, which is responsible for the 2
  3. 3. depletion of forests, animal and plant species and soil that sustain life, the pace ofdeterioration in drinking water and oceans, the destruction of the ozone layer and thegreenhouse effect, are demanding a comprehensive global treatment in the formulationand implementation of solutions.Petrella (1995), professor at the University of Louvain in Belgium, says that thedevelopment of capitalism in the current historical moment as demand puts the need for: Globalize finance, capital markets, companies and strategies; Adapt production systems to the scientific and technological revolution underway in the fields of energy, materials, biotechnology and especially information and communication; Make each individual, each social group, each territorial community work from the perspective of becoming better, stronger, winning. The principle of cooperation between individuals, social groups and communities is replaced by the competition; Liberalize domestic markets to build a single world market where goods circulate freely, capital, services and people. In this context, it should be condemned all forms of national protection, should not exist nor the interest of society and the sovereign will of the people; Deregulate the mechanisms of direction and orientation of the economy. In this case, cease to be citizens, ie the democratic state, through elected or designated representative institutions, the power to set standards and principles of operation and yes of the market. State to settle compete to create the overall environment more conducive to business and action; and, Privatize entire sectors of the economy such as urban transport, railways, health, hospitals, education, banking, insurance, culture, water supply, electricity, gas, administrative services, etc..These six points above reflect the fundamentals of the development model that theprocess of globalization intends to carry out worldwide. The implementation of thismodel will engender, however, the following scenario: Mass unemployment resulting from the modernization of the productive sectors required to raise their levels of productivity and competitiveness in world markets. Loss of control of the national economy by the nation-state in the face of the high power of international economic groups. Transfer out of the nation-states power to decide on investments and production of broad economic sectors, especially the more modern, denationalized with the privatization process. Loss of national sovereignty with the subordination of the nation-state to the WTO - World Trade Organization, the decisions of industrial companies and multinational financial and economic blocs. 3
  4. 4. Social exclusion of much of the worlds population will be on the sidelines of the fruits of economic and social progress. Commitment of the global environment in the face of overwhelming power of capital and weakening of the nation-state.This scenario tends to sharpen the social contradictions in every nation and deepeninternational conflicts in an environment characterized by economic war betweencompanies, nations and economic blocs. Alongside the centripetal forces that contributetowards global economic integration, the centrifugal forces also work generatingfractures and fragmentations between social classes, races, nations and economic blocs,many of them excluded from the fruits of economic progress. In this scenario, theprevailing logic of competition and not the logic of cooperation between nations,peoples, ethnic groups and social classes.The Cold War, a product of World War II gave way to the War Economy dominanttoday. It seems that in the future, the prevailing logic of competition, may resurfacesocial revolutions, ethnic strife, regional wars and localized, even a new conflagrationof world of serious consequences for humanity. It is therefore important to search for anew development model, even within the framework of capitalism, based on the logicof cooperation, to avoid the catastrophe that unfolds into the future.3. Cultural globalization and its impacts and consequencesThe big change produced around the world in the twentieth century is, without a doubt,that contemporary globalization, according Defarges (1993), is characterized by theexplosion and acceleration of all order flows: goods, services, information, images,fashions , ideas, values, everything that man invents and produces, at the moment thisis rooted in a land even if it is taken also by the frenzy of travel (business trips, tourism,migration, temporary or permanent).According to Naisbitt and Aburdene (1990), the world is becoming increasinglycosmopolitan and were all influencing each other. Trade, travel, film and televisionestablish the foundations of global lifestyle. It should be noted that cinema andtelevision broadcast the same images throughout the global village.This whole process of transformation was due largely to the scientific andtechnological revolution in progress, especially in transport and communications,which enabled an unprecedented thrust of finance and international trade under theauspices of multinational companies. To Defarges (1993), the movement of everythingthat man thinks and does today reaches an intensity, density, unprecedented speed.Several factors accumulate to impose economic globalization that causes deepimbalances both international and national.Defarges (1993) argues that the globalization of trade results from three phenomena: 1) 4
  5. 5. the power and refinement of technical skills, 2) the ocean and finance, 3) theglobalization of business. In this flow of globalization, the nation-state maintains itstraditional functions. Its borders, fully recognized or foreclosed by old disputes, aretroubled by differences between the right, which claims sovereignty over the state, andthe new reality imposed by the globalization process. In the twentieth century, thepolitical-juridical concept of sovereignty was in crisis in the theoretical and practicalangles.For Ianni (1992), capitalism produces both global interdependence as produces andreproduces located and general contradictions, national and global. Simultaneouslyforces operating in the direction of cooperation, division of labor, interdependence,integration and complicity, divergent forces operate, fragmentary and contradictory.According Ianni (1992), the forces of fragmentation include nationalism, tribalism,fundamentalism, Islam, defense of the Third World and other.According to Huntington (1996), culture and cultural identities, which at the broadestlevel, civilizations are identities, are shaping the patterns of cohesion, disintegrationand conflict in the post-Cold War World. He also states that in the post-Cold WarWorld, culture is both a divisive and unifying force and that societies united byideology or historical circumstances, but divided by civilization, or bursts, as happenedin the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Bosnia, or are subject to severe stress, such asUkraine, Nigeria, Sudan, India, Sri Lanka and many others.Among the contradictions generated by globalization stands out that among theglobalized culture and local cultures or national. According to Waters (1995), theglobalized culture is more chaotic than well structured. It is integrated and connected sothat the meanings of its components are made relative to each other, but are not unifiedor centralized. The globalization of culture involves the creation of a common buthyper differentiated field values, tastes and style opportunities accessible to everyindividual irrespective of whether in self-expression purposes or consumption.For Waters (1995), a globalized culture admits a continuous flow of ideas, information,responsibility, values and tastes mediated through mobile individuals, symbols, signsand electronic simulations. These flows give a particular form of globalized culture.First, it connects primitive and homogeneous cultural niches closed forcing them torelate to others. This relationship may take the form of a reflective self-examination inwhich the principles are again assumed facing absorbing elements of other cultures.Second, globalized culture allows the development of genuine transnational culturesnot linked to a nation-state-society which may be new or syncretic.According to Waters (1995), based on argument of Appadurai, flows mentioned aboveinclude: etnoscapes, the distribution of mobile individuals (tourists, migration,refugees, etc.), tecnoscapes, distribution technology; finanscapes, the distribution of 5
  6. 6. capital; mediascapes, information distribution; and, ideoscapes, the distribution ofpolitical ideas and values (freedom, democracy, human rights).Waters (1995) underscores the argument of Lechner that a direct effect caused byglobalization has independent characteristics of modernity. They include: The universalization of Western culture; The globalization of the nation-state-society; The abstraction and the secularization of law as the basis of social order; and, The establishing the fact that the world is pluralistic and that there is a unique and superior culture.The indirect effect of globalization lies in the fact that it can promote the peripheralcapitalist countries, an imitation of the culture of the great powers or syncretism of acommon set of elements from different traditions, but in fact provoke discontent arisingfrom the threat that modernization and post-modernization represent against culturaltraditions. It is worth noting that globalization has also contributed both directly andindirectly, to the broader development of fundamentalism.Morin (1993) emphasizes that the crisis of modernity, ie the loss of the certainty ofprogress and faith in tomorrow elicited two types of responses. The first is that newfundamentalism constitutes re rooting and will return to the source of the very principleof Tradition lost and the second, is that postmodernism is the awareness that new is notnecessarily superior to the foregoing. The new fundamentalism adopt forms sometimesreligious, sometimes national, sometimes ethnic, and reach maximum virulence whichare both ethnic, national and religious, while postmodernism is blind judge when all issaid, that everything repeats itself, that anything goes, that there is no history orbecoming.According to Waters (1995), fundamentalism is not the only possible religiousresponse against globalization and pressures post-modernizing. One such response wasthe emergence of ecumenical movements related to Christianity that sought to build inthe decades of 1960 and 1970, the unification of several Christian religious currents.However, there is no better example of the impact of globalization than the resurgenceof Islamic fundamentalism in the 1970s. Islamic fundamentalists, especially thoselinked to the Iranian clergy, mark their rejection of modernization and Westernsecularism.According to Hall (1997), in the modern world, national cultures within which we areborn are a major source of cultural identity. Hall (1997) argues Ernest Gellnersargument that without a sense of national identity, the modern subjects experience adeep sense of loss subjective. He reinforces this argument explaining the thoughtSchwarcz that a nation is not only a political entity but something which producesmeanings-a system of cultural representation. People are not only legal citizens of a 6
  7. 7. nation, they are part of the idea of the nation as represented in their national culture. Anation is a symbolic community and this is what explains its power to generate a senseof identity and loyalty.Hall (1997) states that the identification, which was in a pre-modern or traditionalsociety, was given to the tribe, people, religion and region was gradually transferred, inWestern societies, to the national culture. The ethnic and regional differences weregradually subsumed under what Gellner calls "ceiling" of the state national policy,which thus became a powerful source of meaning for modern cultural identities.However, the full power of the national state is in its twilight. This is due to theglobalization process by the movement gestated by an international collaboration evercloser in many areas, especially in matters relating to finance, international peace andsecurity, the environment, the integration of the world market, as well as the formationof a world public opinion provided by the new means of mass communication.The independence of the Nation-States, large and small, is now compromised by theprocess of globalization. Three of the functions of the state as, for example, to ensureinternal security, legislate and build national solidarity are threatened. The defense ofthe national territory is central to the idea of nation. The imperative of the idea ofnational defense is associated with a threat from abroad. In the environment of the XXIcentury, the threats do not disappear but become multiform.The state lies between two contradictory concerns in the vision of Defarges (1993):save, preserve their territory which is responsible without distorting all movements ofgoods, money, tourists, images, ideas, essential sources of prosperity and vitality whosedevelopment demands its connection to global networks. Globalization undermines, inturn, the ability of states to legislate independently because the laws tend to be tailoredto the requirements not only domestic but also overseas. Likewise, globalization wavesto the prospect of building pacts supranational rather than focusing on exclusive pactsnational interest.According Defarges (1993), the flow of integration - trade, investment, technology,money and also people - does not eliminate the substance of the States, their rootednessin a territory, a people, but make the borders porous, and static decoupling limitseconomic realities, social, cultural. Despite its weakness in the current context, thenational state continues to function as a basic reference. This is the true center. Whenan institution or a person reproduces, it does so in reference to an unconscious logic,logic nationwide.According to Hess (1983), the national state functions as a center through which eachof us, either as an individual or as a member belonging to social groups, organizationsor institutions should be located. Just as every individual unconscious is structuredaround the father or mother, every citizen is structured in relation to the state. Whatever 7
  8. 8. the place where it is located, its relationship with the state and, more generally, thenode of the state institutions that structure (currency, police, laws, etc.) works asfundamental structuring of their institutional self. Hess (1993) argues that this politicalunconscious presides not only the structuring of private persons (individuals, citizens),but also the creation and organization of all institutions.For Hess (1983), the political unconscious would be the engine at a given historicalmoment, the phenomenon of production of the state as we know it. The state, which isin the center that represents the elements of the political unconscious, takes anincreasingly strong autonomy and dissociates from its periphery which also functionsas another element in this dialectic.Other authors prefer to speak of a collective and not historical consciousness andsocial, rather than a political unconscious. They defend the thesis that the mechanismsof acquisition of knowledge and social practice at the individual level are developed ina given social context. Thus, there exists a constant interaction between the individualsubject and collective subject that is all over the national plan. The integration ofideologies, values, modes of behavior that are common to a given society and are oftenstructured by the state is not conscious. She does not take place only by contact withother societies. According to Hall (1992), modern nations are cultural hybrids.One aspect that may be considered also as a consequence of globalization is theprospect of rising ethnic conflict and its political expression, nationalism. Hall (1992)identifies two possible adaptive responses on the part of ethnic groups to theglobalizing tendencies: translation and tradition. Translation is a response based onsyncretism in which groups living with more than one culture looking to develop newforms of expression that are entirely divorced from its origins. Tradition ethnicfundamentalism is facing the rediscovery of the origins of an ethnic group in history.The tradition involves the search of the certainties of the past in a postmodern world inwhich identity is associated with lifestyle and is constantly changing and beingchallenged.People who are minority in one country, as is the case of Kosovo in Yugoslavia, theBasques in Spain and France, the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq, among others, seek toconquer their independence by building their nation, whether to assert itself asethnicity, is to break free from the oppression they perhaps are. Nationalism mustassume large proportions, not only among ethnic minorities seeking to build theirnation-state, but also among people who, despite being possessed of their nation-state,feel threatened in their interests by international capital and by the big capitalistpowers.In the contemporary world, ethnic conflicts are often domestic objects of treatment inan international environment, as well proves the issue of Kosovo in Yugoslavia. Thereis a marked trend of internationalization of ethnic conflict. Four aspects of the 8
  9. 9. contemporary global system are significant in this process. The first concerns the trendsof the global economy affect the economic situation of each country and due to this,contribute to the exclusion of various social groups as a result of changes in nationalpolicies. The second concerns the ability of states and groups of states seek to shapepolicy and institutional arena and even countries intervene in their domestic conflicts.Third, as a result of high growth of global migration, there is now a trend of expandingethnic conflicts on neighboring states. Finally, the fourth is the globalization ofcommunities. Each of these questions has major implications for international politics.Analyzing the issue of cultural identity of Yugoslavia, Škvorc (1999) states that, first ofall, what we to understand the contextual factors are that form a minimum specificcultural identity. These factors are: 1) the existence or not of a common cultural center,2) the consensus of the people who belong to a culture in a minimum set ofcommunicative elements which constitute the common basis for dialogue, and 3) theexistence a significant number of factors that contribute to the establishment of acommon cultural identity and historically conditioned such as literature, art, folkloreand other experiences, a common tradition or an interaction between different culturalelements to produce a new cultural identity in which, while not unique identities arelost or pushed aside by the force.In Yugoslavia, besides not having a cultural center common to all people who werepart of it, there was no consensus among the ethnic groups they belong to a commonculture based on which to establish dialogue between them. When the dialoguebetween ethnic groups does not take place, as in the case of Yugoslavia, conflicts tendto escalate in a dramatic and cruel as happened recently in Kosovo.The process of globalization by promoting the liberalization of world markets tends toproduce population migrations between countries and, consequently, generate newethnic problems. According Schaetti (1999), one of the effects of the migration processis what is called for “cultural marginality” that describes a typical experience for globalnomads who are exposed to two or more cultural traditions. Such people do not tend tostand comfortably in any of the cultures in which they were exposed, but whetherputting the margin of each.Besides the “cultural marginality”, another effect of migrations is “encapsulatedmarginality” which corresponds to the situation of people who feel insecure in the newenvironment. They may have difficulty in making decisions, define its boundaries andidentify personal truths. They often feel alienated, weak, and dissatisfied with lifemeaningless. The marginal encapsulated isolate themselves. They do not see a groupwith which to establish a relationship. The “global nomads” can respond to thissituation by abandoning its international character to try to be assimilated into a societyin which they find themselves.Finally, Schaetti (1999) concludes that the third effect of migrations is that of 9
  10. 10. “constructive marginality” that describes the situation in which the nomads are able tomove easily and powerfully between different cultural traditions, acting appropriately,feeling at home, and while maintaining a multicultural integrated sense of self. Peopletend to put marginal constructive multicultural experience to good use. Global nomadsrecognize that the knowledge and skills they have acquired through their internationalmobility can help them in their personal and professional goals.Nationalism is, in turn, according to Waters (1995), while a global phenomenon andglobal. It is a component of culture that is transmitted over the planet as part of theinternationalization process. The establishment of the Nation-States provides the basison which companies can be connected to each other.It should be noted that in the late eighteenth century, there was special attention inEurope and other parts of the world in order to raise the national consciousnessfavoring a new and modern form of political organization, the Nation-State. Hobsbawm(1991) argues that the goal of the first nationalist movements was to invent thecoincidence between four landmarks, people (ethnic group) - the nation-state-government-that is, between common identity, the political system, the community andadministration. To these one can also add another important component is the territory.The political elites and intellectuals, who lead an action nationalist engage generally ina series of ideological practices and seek to represent the nation as a social fact, andhistorical space that is real, continuous and meaningful. These leaders, to implementthe action nationalist: Tell stories or stories of the nation indicating common experiences, triumphs and defeats; Emphasize the national character; Invent new patterns of ritual, symbolism and ceremonies that give collective expression to the nation; Establish myths and legends that are located outside the nations history and give an almost sacred and a sense of originality; and, Promote the idea of common origin or racial purity.Importantly, these practices are evident not only with the emergence of national statesin Europe early nineteenth century, but also, in the contemporary era with the advent ofNazi-fascism and the national liberation struggles of the emerging countries againstimperialism and economic Western politician.Waters (1995) summarizes the impact of globalization on national and ethnic issuesstating that: 10
  11. 11. Globalization is generally a process of differentiation, as well as being homogeneous. Globalization pluralizes the world by recognizing the value of cultural niches and local skills; Globalization weakens the connections between nation and state releasing ethnic minorities and allowing reconstitution of nations within the limits of the previous state. This is especially important in the context of states that are confederations of minorities; Globalization brings the center to the periphery. It introduces new possibilities of ethnic identities for cultures of the periphery. The vehicles for this cultural flow are electronic images and affluent tourism; and, Globalization brings the periphery to the center. An obvious vehicle is the flow of migrants.BIBLIOGRAPHY Alcoforado, F. Globalização, Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1997. Bobbio, N., Matteucci, N. et Pasquino, G., Dicionário de Política, Editora Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, 1986. Defarges, P., La mondialisation, Dunod, Paris, 1993. Hall, S. Identidade cultural, Fundação da América, Lisboa, 1997. Hall, S. The question of cultural identity, Cambridge, 1992. Hess, R. Communication interculturelle et identité nationale, Union Française de Centres de Vacances et de Loisirs e Bund der Deutschen Katholischen Jugend, 1983. Hobsbawm, E., Nações e Nacionalismo, Paz e Terra, Rio, 1991. Huntington, S. O choque de civilizações, Editora Objetiva, Rio, 1996. Ianni, O., A Sociedade Global, Civilização Brasileira, Rio, 1992. Morin, E. Os problemas do fim de século, Editorial Notícias, Lisboa, 1993. Naisbitt, J. e Aburdene, P. Megatrends 2000, Amana-key Editora, São Paulo, 1990. Oman, C., Globalisation et Régionalisation. Quels enjeux pour les pays en dévelopment?, OECD, Paris, 1994. Petrella, R., Les Nouvelles Tables de la Loi, Le Monde Diplomatique, Paris, outubro, 1995. Schaetti, B. Phoenix rising: a question of cultural identity, Transition Dynamics, 1999. Skvorc, B. The question of Yugoslav cultural identity: an artificial problem, Transition Dynamics, Macquarie University, Sydney,1999. Waters M. Globalization, Routledge, London, 1995. 11