Essay Example on Globalization and consumer culture the author Douglas J Goodman









In the text Globalization and consumer culture the author Douglas J Goodman begins by emphasizing the topic to be discussed whether there is a global culture and if this is a consumer culture Goodman 2007 330 To give an accurate approach to this topic Goodman expresses the need to clarify and redefine the concept of culture Ibid 330 It is important to take in consideration that in globalization there are two different meanings or dimensions of culture The first one puts in focus the significance or meaning of social behavior which according to Friedman 1994 it is called generic culture and the second one puts in focus the beliefs and practices that make a group different called differential culture Ibid 332 So it depends on the definition of culture that is used to answer the question whether there is a global culture For Goodman taking into account the globalization process the definition of differential culture reveals the need of redefine culture 

This concept of culture is mostly assumed in globalization and has been criticized because leads to think that there is a kind of substance or essence by which groups of people can be differentiated The definition of differential culture is also the basis idea of concepts like hybridity that portray the concept of national culture and a nostalgic feeling for the local It is also said by the author that with this definition of culture globalization would be considered the proliferation of an invasive culture almost like a cultural imperialism Ibid 333 Goodman points out what both definitions have in common He shows how generic culture and differential culture refers to a system of meaning and to a set of practices that are part of this system Ibid 333 To give a better approach to understand culture at the level of global culture it is also necessary to recognize that practices create meanings Ibid 334 To conclude the reconceptualization of culture it is necessary to add that culture is constantly being formed through the practices of individuals and groups of people and that this practices and meanings communicate and reproduces a system of relations of meanings and social order and is Ibid 335 

To continue with the exploration of the main question of the text the author gives us a summary of the primary cultural attributes of globalization and it will be evaluated if they configure a global consumer culture There is two terms used to argue for and against global culture homogeneity and heterogeneity Homogenization argues for a global culture but in an imperialistic manner and indicates that globalization leads to less diversity of cultures and to the tendency to the uniformity As an example given by Steger 2002 36 to illustrate this concept he mention the Chicago Bulls shirts worn by Palestinians or the Nike sneakers carried by Amazon Indians Goodman 2007 336 Within the concept of homogenization It is necessary to clarify three concepts that are often used as a synonym for homogenization in an inaccurate way Americanization what wrongly assumes that all companies that are disseminating are from the United States Coca colonization a term given by Milnar 1992 indicates the propagation of a standard product And the last concept McDonaldization given by Ritzer 2000 that refers to the propagation of process successfully introduced in consumption like efficiency calculability predictability and control Goodman 2007 337 Goodman also points out that there are reactions against McDonaldization and this are processes related to the practices of consumer culture he signalizes how the decision of the consumers of buying in these McDonalized stores or in independent stores is not only an economic decision but also a cultural decision related with a system of meanings 

To conclude it is to say that the homogenization of the global culture is not the propagation of the American Culture but the propagation of consumer culture Ibid 338 The second term is heterogeneity The academics argue that through globalization diversity is increasing between and within cultures Ibid 338 Then the author gives us a look at four of the most important theoretical approaches to a global consumer culture According to Leslie Sklair 1991 the culture ideology of consumerism is based on the idea that the meaning of life is based on the things that people possess Within this concept it should be noted that the predominant role of people is the role of consumers rather than citizens reducing all political action to provide resources for consumption Goodman 2007 344 Another theoretical approach is given by Nestor García Canclini who has an optimistic vision about the global consumer culture says that through consumption people give meaning to the world communicating themselves through the objects they use He illustrates that by saying that just as the goods are made from different parts produced in other countries likewise is our culture Ibid 344

Goodman argues that the problem of seeing consumption as a replacement for citizenship is that one cannot compare the free exercise of democratic participation with the exercise of the consumer in an area dominated by market corporations Ibid 345 Contrary to this optimistic view Benjamin Barber 1995 offers a more negative view He uses the term McWorld to refer to homogenization and Jihad to refer to heterogenization Barber points out that none is good He adds that the nation state which is the only one that transports democracy is affected and loses strength by the McWorld and that Jihad is characterized by being reactionary exclusionary and authoritarian Barber also mentions that contrary to what is usually believed that these theories are antithesis of the other they are actually complementary since McWorld needs Jihad to give a sense of identity and Jihad needs McWorld to use its technology and improve its organization Goodman 2007 346 The last approach presented by George Ritzer 2004 describe homogeneity and heterogeneity contrasting a pair of concepts nothing vs something and glocalization vs grobalization

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