Whats wrong changing cultural Identity?

Why are people so afraid that nations and individuals are loosing their cultural identities? In today’s globalizing world, there is the ongoing notion of media imperialism- that the west is able to exert their ideological influence over the developing world. There is the belief that specifically from the rise of mass media, nations are loosing or one could say, there is a change in their cultural identity.

Yet, according to “Globalization, Supranational Institutions, and Media,” author John Sinclair notes the idea that people can have more than one cultural identity at the same time or, rather, cultural affiliations existing at different levels (75). I think in our current state, we each have our own cultural identity and parts of our cultural identity are always changing. Globalization and the rise of mass media do have a great influence on each of us, but a different influence for each of us. We each take away different aspects from globalizing influences; hence, we have the ability to take away what we want to take away. The cultural imperialism theory assumed that the audience of the mass media would absorb the same ideological meaning, which is not necessarily true.

I would like to note an example that was talked about in our international communications course, which was the notion of the concept of watching different news sources. Today, one is able to choose from a multitude of different new sources. Just because  BBC is offered in Saudi Arabia, doesn’t mean that Saudis’ are going to watch it and take away the same ideas as the British. As we noted in class, people watch things differently, one will focus on different aspects of the media and identify with different portions. People will interpret the morals from the media differently. Therefore, I argue that ones cultural identity is always changing. If one changes there cultural identity, it could just be because they wanted that change, not that it was forced upon them. I think there is nothing wrong with slow changes to one’s cultural identity and I don’t believe culture can stay the same forever.

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2 Responses to Whats wrong changing cultural Identity?

  1. zabc21 says:

    I sort of have indifferent feelings toward this thought. I ultimately agree that culture can’t stay the same forever and it will change gradually as time progresses. And I also agree that a global media dominance does not mean America is forcing their culture on anyone. However, I don’t agree that “if one changes there cultural identity, it could just be because they wanted that change.” Take for example small children in China. Now there is a prevalence of American culture and commerce in China. These children have always had the presence of McDonalds right around the corner. Without even knowing their culture was changing they were facing it front on. It cannot be said that they wanted this change, they were too late into the process to have the ability to “want.” This experience with McDonalds however could lead to them “wanting” more American culture. I feel though, that with such a large American cultural presence in China, that they would stick to other examples in their own country that are a hybrid of cultures.

  2. Mariam Samsoudine says:

    I agree that there is a fear that exists about shifting cultural identities, and some people are lacking a sense of perspective. They forget that the current attributes or image that they have of their nationality is a product of everything that occurred leading up to the present time. We know that cultural imperialism does not function like a hypodermic needle, so why do some people view their culture as something that is delicately frozen in time and therefore needs to be protected by a bubble and defended against foreign influence?

    I think it is because, as Siochrú et. al put it, media products are not just consumer goods, they also “produce” us, in that the image we have of ourselves is shaped by how and what we communicate. If the image projected to us starts to shift, our grasp of who we think we are as a nation feels like it is slipping away. So, to use Liza’s example, even though people can pick and choose from the many options of news sources available, and then take away whatever meaning they choose to interpret, the mere presence of alternative, opposing, or foreign voices in the media can feel like a threat to their self-image.

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