is the globalization of culture the same as the globalization of economy?

What is globalization? According to Wolf “Globalization is a hideous word of obscure meaning, coined in the 1960s, that came into ever-greater vogue in the 1990s. For many of its proponents it is irresistible and desirable force sweeping away frontiers, overturning despotic governments, undermining taxation, liberating individuals and enriching all it touches” (Wolf, P13) In Wolf’s book note, he gives more detailed information that the world “globalization” was first coined by a professor at the Harvard Business School. In chapter 2 of Wolf’s book, he also cites the utterance by Professor Hurst and Thompson regards to the definition of globalization “often very different cultural, economic and social processes.” (Wolf, P14) Though there is not a satisfying definition for globalization, but it has some characteristics that many scholars do agree on. To name a few: (1) the increasing integration of markets across political boundaries; (2) the driving force for international flows of goods, services and capital. (Wolf, P14-15)

So both from Sinclair and Wolf’s assertion, we can at least get some idea about what is globalization. Though it is a vague word and with a little bit fuzzy meaning, but we can regard it as a trend, a global force that transforms every sphere of society at many levels. The international media such as BBC, VOA might appear before the word “globalization” was coined in the 1960s. But with globalization, the supranational media institutions might compete with national media, for better or for worse.

For some Muslim countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and so on, they might be against the globalization of culture, because they assume it as cultural imperialism. As Sinclair mentions that “Furthermore, cultural imperialism theory assumed not only that media audiences in the affected countries would absorb the same ideological meanings in the same way as just so many “cultural dupes” but that the alien messages would drive out whatever previous values, beliefs, and worldviews were held by these people. “ (page 10 from Sinclair’s article) Although there is no systematic evidence to support the theory, but nation states including individual people might not want to take the risk to let its people or children to be exposed too much to the Western media.

I believe there is no culture better or worse than another culture, so from my point of view, I think cross-cultural communication is very important. But I do not want to see the globalization of culture is just like old globalization of economy “the spread of modernization” (Sinclair, page 2). The old modernization model pays attention to the diffusion of Western innovation, and requires developing countries to do exact the same steps as the developed countries.  If one country wants to promote its democracy model to another country by pushing or instill their way of structuring the government and so on, that country might fail in the end.


Wolf, M. (2004). Why Globalization Works. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

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