Apart from every four years when the World Cup takes place (soccer does funny things to people), the French are not typically demonstrative patriots, nor do they display their colors like Americans do in front of their houses, or like Canadians on their backpacks. Take a French person out of France, however, and you might hear “I’ve never felt more French than since I came to America,” as my mother says to me (and shakes head at the derisory selection of fromage in the grocery store).
We’ve all heard these words , or variations thereof, and some of us have even spoken them ourselves. Gary Weaver explains that “the way to find your own culture is to leave it,” because interacting with those who are culturally different than us challenges the parts of own culture which we take for granted, and makes us conscious of them. Ignoring the power of cultural attachment and traditions was one weakness of Modernization (aka Development) theorists, as Thussu describes. Exposure to “others” (in this case modern Western lifestyles) does not necessarily lead to homogenization, but just the opposite.
This idea applies at the national level as well, and Weaver attributes growing nationalism worldwide, to an increase in cultural self-consciousness, fueled by cross-cultural interactions. Robertson (1992) describes it as cultures becoming “relativized” to each other, as opposed to unified or centralized (Thussu, p.61). It takes a turn for the ugly when one culture feels threatened by its interaction with something “other.” Today we see how, when faced with Western influences through worldwide media, militant Islamists can use modern means of communication to reinforce their message of anti-Western sentiment. Irony aside, it seems clear that increased interaction among cultures via modern communication systems can have an effect of polarization- but can we go so far as to say globalization is fueling extremism or terrorism?