What are some advantages and disadvantages of cultural globalization?

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Some say that the world is getting smaller because of the technology we have developed in recent years, and I think cultural globalization is one product of that. It's now common for my phone to remind me of the holidays of various cultures. Because news is almost instantaneous worldwide, the...

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Some say that the world is getting smaller because of the technology we have developed in recent years, and I think cultural globalization is one product of that. It's now common for my phone to remind me of the holidays of various cultures. Because news is almost instantaneous worldwide, the drop date of the new Apple phones hit markets around the world at approximately the same time. Celebrities and sports stars are followed on their social media accounts, influencing purchasing and public thought everywhere.

In some ways, cultural globalization allows for the sharing of diverse cultures. Because of cultural globalization, my experience is richer because it is influenced by so many different types of cultures and people. I can also be mindful of not just the successes of cultures around the world, but also keep informed regarding their struggles. Thus, I can use my purchasing power to help small businesses around the globe in meaningful ways, thus supporting families, communities, and economies outside my own.

But there are some potentially troublesome aspects of cultural globalization. Some feel that small cultures eventually get consumed by a more massive "mainstream" global culture. Big businesses with a great deal of economic influence make decisions that could negatively impact the local economies and human populations of underrepresented global cultures. Larger markets have the power to influence the societal values in cultures across the globe, and not in ways that are helpful to all societies and groups.

Since cultural globalization is a predominant factor that shapes our world and the way we interact with each other, I think it's important to continually evaluate the impact our personal decisions (mostly through purchasing power) could have on other societies.

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First, it's important to note that globalization has always been around. Polynesians sailed to the Americas thousands of years ago. They brought their boa designs to the Americas and brought chickens and sweet potatoes back to Polynesia. Thousands of years before that, the Inuit sailed to Europe and brought the harpoon to Europeans. What has changed is mostly the speed and scale of globalization.

The worst effect of globalization is that it enables the great increase in power and wealth of corporations and other undemocratic forces. Multinational companies often gain more power than nations and peoples do, as when Coca Cola tried to seize the public water of Bolivia or when IT&T worked with the CIA to overthrow the democratic government of Chile. Often global capitalism brings destructive ideas in the name of profit, as when anorexia and bulimia become widespread in cultures that before viewed being overweight as a sign of prosperity rather than unattractive.

But globalization's speed greatly aids popular and democratic social movements as well. Genocides and atrocities gain the public attention within weeks, even hours. By contrast, King Leopold of Belgium killing millions in the Congo in the late nineteenth century with rubber and slave trades took almost a decade to become widely known.

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Globalization has many advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, cultural globalization increases the opportunity for people to understand other cultures. If we eat Chinese food, view Indian art, read Latin American books, listen to African griots, and appreciate Islamic architecture, for example, we no longer view those cultures as alien or "other", but come to understand and appreciate them. This ideally means that we react to the people of those cultures with understanding rather than fear and hatred. Also, influences from global cultures make our own culture richer, more complex, and less provincial.

On the negative side, the cultures of rich, powerful, and populous nations can dominate global culture and often lead to the withering of smaller cultures and languages. Global culture can act as a form of imperialism. Also, globalization can lead to cultural homogenization, making regional traditions less distinctive and interesting. Creators can be compelled to satisfy the tastes of the largest markets leading to less innovation and creativity.

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There are at least two major advantages of cultural globalization.  First, cultural globalization broadens the range of cultural experiences that we can have.  Before globalization, we were only able to partake of our own culture.  As globalization has continued, we have come to be able to enjoy aspects of many other cultures.  Here in the United States, I can eat foods from many different countries.  I can watch cricket from India and soccer from England on TV.  I can watch music videos from South Korea.  We can all watch Harry Potter movies, made by an American studio from books by an English woman.  Because of cultural globalization, we can have a much richer cultural life.

Cultural globalization, we can argue, has also spread democratic values and respect for human rights.  Globalization has encouraged people in many countries to think about things like the rights of women.  It has exposed people to ideas of toleration and freedom of religion.  These values are not universally accepted, but they are more prevalent now than they were before cultural globalization began.

There is one major downside to cultural globalization.  This is the possibility that cultural globalization is destroying unique cultural practices in various countries and thereby reducing the amount of cultural diversity that exists in the world.  This process is sometimes known as cultural imperialism.  People who believe that this is going on feel that certain cultures (particularly that of the United States) are coming to dominate the world.  They point to things like McDonald’s restaurants springing up in many countries around the world and say that these things drive out local cuisines.  They say that American values on things like sexuality are being forced on other countries by American movies, TV, music, and other media.

As cultural globalization continues, people argue over whether it is a good thing.  On the one hand, it gives people more options and spreads what some would call good values.  On the other, it can lead to cultural imperialism and the spread of American (and some other cultures) including the negative aspects of those cultures.  

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