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Global Culture

The idea of global culture suggests that many people are sharing the same culture. Global culture is seen as being spread through mass communication. The idea of global culture implies less of a moral judgement about the worth of the culture as it is not necessarily seen as an inferior culture in the same way as mass culture. Frank J Lechner and John Boli put forward the argument that world culture exists and is growing in importance. They use the term world instead of global. They claim that because of globalization there is an increasingly influential world culture, and it is here to stay. Once culture has developed a world or global element, this cannot be undone. Its influence may increase or decline, and its content can change but world aspects of culture cannot be ignored altogether. Lechner and Boli define culture as socially constructed and socially shared symbolism. It is therefore consists of ideas and meanings rather than material objects or things but it does become part of institutions. It is largely through institutions that world culture usually operates. It is not just a set of disembodied free-floating ideas and principles but through a process of structuration it becomes institutionalized. Patterned, regular and repeated actions help to produce institutions and these in turn shape behavior. They argue that world culture therefore shapes all kinds of ordinary activities that do not have any global focus. They give the example of chess as it is played throughout the world and local chess clubs follow the rules of the World Chess Federation. These chess players follow and learn from the international grand masters whose achievements are recognized all over the world. Chess has its own subculture which includes principles, norms about how to run chess club etc. This subculture tends to share that information is to be freely shared, announced and made known to all the members. This is a global model though with some local exclusions. Global culture involves enactment. It is enacted by organizations and institutions and by individuals who are members of those organizations or institutions. Lechner and Boli are strong advocates of the idea that there is a world or global culture. They believe that the cultures of the world are far from entirely homogenized and standardized. There are certain traits that encourage diversification and the mixing of cultures.

According to Lechner and Boli, much of the apparent local diversity we encounter in daily life is rather superficial, a matter only of consumption styles and taste options and it masks a deeper homogenization.

Many scholars strongly question the view that globalization has led to a single dominant global culture. John Storey defines globalization as the name given to the complex relations which characterize the world in the 21 st century. It refers to the relentless global flows of capital, commodities, and communications across increasingly porous territorial borders. In the past the cultures of different areas of the world tended to remain relatively separate from one another. They were separated by time and space. It was costly and time consuming to travel from one part of the world to another and in the absence of mass communications the contact between different cultures was limited. Time and space have become much less important in restricting cultural contacts. Cheap travel, extensive migration and tourism, the expansion of world trade and the development of technology such as satellite communications and the internet have shrunk the world making contact between those from different cultures easier and more frequent. According to Storey, we encounter the global in the clothes we wear,the music we listen to, the television programmes and films we watch.

Current Affairs Magazine