In my Human Geography class we are having a debate on how globalization affects culture. I need some examples of how globalization is bad for the language, traditions, etc.

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In general, globalization is said to have a negative impact on cultures because it exposes them to the ways of other people.  The people in a given country get to see how things are in many other countries and they have the opportunity to change their own ways in response.  While they do not always change, they have more chances to do so because of globalization.  When they do decide to change, their culture is “hurt” in the sense that it is changed and it moves away from the way it had been in the past. In discussing this, I will focus on one state of the Federated States of Micronesia because I grew up in that state and am familiar with the effects of globalization there.

One aspect of culture is language and language can be changed or even destroyed by globalization.  The original language of my island has been severely altered as loan words have entered the language.  In some cases, loan words push out native words, which can be lost.  For example, I do not know the native word for “lose” because the English word “lose” has come to be universally used.  More seriously, languages can be lost completely.   As people from the island move to Hawaii or the Mainland US, their children tend to forget the language, reducing the number of native speakers in the world.  All government business is conducted in English because the languages of the FSM are not mutually intelligible.  This helps make English more important and can erode the prestige of local languages, making people less likely to speak them.

Customs, of course, change as well.  Thirty years ago, it was acceptable for women to go topless but not for them to wear shorts.  Under outside influence, the opposite is now true.  More importantly, native feasts on important occasions (which could happen as much as once a month) used to require people to come and spend 3 or 4 days doing various cultural activities.  This practice is being eroded because Western styles of work do not allow people to take off of work and go spend time doing traditional activities during work hours.  This helps to kill some cultural practices like the long feasts that used to be central to the culture.

Religion can be changed as well.  No one actually knows the original religion of my island anymore.  Christian missionaries came about 150 years ago and influenced natives to abandon traditional religion.  Now, everyone on the island is Christian.

Musical styles have changed.  Music was once largely a capella.  When Westerners came, instruments like guitars were introduced.  Recently, exposure to music from outside has changed things much more drastically.  Almost all music now is set to light reggae beats.

Government has been affected.  The island used to be ruled by hereditary chiefs.  Now, the island is part of a state of the FSM.  Leaders are elected and the hereditary chiefs only have cultural, not legal power.

Of course, not all aspects of culture change.  People still speak the native language at home. They still engage in some traditional cultural practices.  However, globalization has exposed them to new ways and they have accepted many of them.  This erodes the native culture and, therefore, we can say globalization is bad for culture.

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