The Idea of Global Culture Americanization is unfounded
In We Are All Americans, Verdu writes that civilization has simply been more about Americanization. He argues that the American model of life is reflected in community life, art, money or sex in virtually all parts of the world. For example, the US has ensured that democracy is practiced everywhere. Global phenomena, such as transparency, ecology, hard-line feminism, acceptance of multiculturalism, military gaysm, nontraditional partnerships, and marriage began in the US before spreading elsewhere. The world is systematically adopting the American way of life since they admire America’s social freedom and material abundance. France has been adopting start-ups characteristic of Silicon Valley, Bangkok boasts a yen for the American babies while many countries have been embracing the American-style wage structure and stock options. In The Noble Feat of Nike, Norberg looks at how Nike, as a global brand, has transformed the lives of many people in the developing world, particularly Vietnam. For instance, it guarantees regular wages, free medical services, training, and education. Such companies are liked in these countries since they offer comparatively better wages when compared to other institutions. Norberg argues that the US multinational companies have taken new machinery, new management skills, and better technology to developing countries, thereby increasing productivity. Furthermore, any American MNC pays about eight times the average income. As such, they are playing a crucial role in enhancing the economies of these countries. One author who disputes the idea of global Americanization is Andrew Lam. In his article, All Things Asian Are Becoming Us, he argues that, in fact, the US is being invaded with the Asian culture and it appears that the Americans are systematically embracing it. For instance, movies from Japan, South Korea, and China have become so popular that famous producers, such as Quentin Tarantino are making kung fu movies in Asian languages. The Americans have also embraced the Asian phenomena, such as acupuncture, incense, ginseng, beef noodle soup, and Confucian dramas. Currently, the Americans are in love with sushi. Buddhism, widely associated with India, is now an important religion in the country, with Los Angeles hosting more than 300 Buddhist temples. For this paper, I argue that, even though the American culture remains influential across many cultures, globalization is a process that brings together different cultures each having considerable influence on the others. In particular, I have the position that in as much as the American culture has re-shaped the cultures in many countries, the traditions from these countries have also had considerable influences on the US. Therefore, the idea that the world is becoming Americanized is unfounded.
The notion of Americanization is unfounded
Tu Weiming, a scholar based at Harvard, once remarked that this is the “era where various traditions exist side by side for the first time for the picking” (Lam 39). From this statement, there emerges an understanding that globalization is quickly becoming de-centered and any part of the world can influence the other (Giddens 20). Globalization is the strengthening of global social relations that connect distant regions and it is illustrated by the manner in which local activities are shaped by events that take place miles way (Guillen 250). Therefore, chances are quite low that the other national cultures will be consumed by the American culture. As such, the notion that “the American way has become the global paradigm, and the world follows its example, follows its orders and those of its representatives at the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank” is unfounded. While the United States is exporting some aspects of its culture to the rest of the world, it is also accepting cultures from other nations. At present, the US has the largest community of immigrants in the world. The Africans, Asians, and Europeans are coming to the US each year, bringing with them their cultures. These persons do not simply abandon their traditions. Instead, they combine elements of their cultures with the American way of life. What results is a cosmopolitan society that practices a hybridized lifestyle.
The perspective that globalization is Americanization is quite inaccurate. Associating globalization with Americanization is like viewing the world from a defunct perspective. Many scholars simply examine how the “United States influences the world. What many tend to overlook, in the age of porous borders, is how much the world has changed the United States” (Lam 37). Globalization has simply brought together different cultures each influencing the other in some way. Accordingly, the cultures from such countries as China, Japan, Vietnam, and South Koreas are increasingly being adopted in the United States, with the Americans being attracted to the movies or literary books from these nations. For instance, “Sales of Japanese comic books, DVDs and videocassettes reached $500 million in the United States last year” (Lam 37).
In essence, while the American culture remains influential in several parts of the globe, the US is also being influenced largely by foreign cultures. “Evidence of the Easternization of America is piling up” (Lam 37). Many aspects of culture traditionally belonging to China, Japan or South Korea, such as Kung Fu, Confucian dram, acupuncture, or ginseng have now become part of the American culture. There are also numerous examples illustrating how the Americans have adopted technologies from these nations. This is evidenced in the embracing of the Japanese animation technology, with numerous anime shows featuring on the cable channels. The Japanese movie, Spirited Away, alsooutperformed Disney movies to receive the Oscar awards in 2003.
It could occur to many people that globalization is synonymous to Americanization due to a number of reasons. For instance, it has played an essential role in changing the political ideals of many nations. “Thanks to the example of the United States, a large part of the world takes democracy as a natural value. Almost no nation for many years now has dared to declare itself anything except a democracy (Verdu 24). In the past, the US has promoted democratic elections in countries, such as Japan and South Korea, thereby ensuring stability (Fackler para. 2). Even though some people may argue that this shows that other “American social and political ideas are also taking hold,” this does not imply the world is Americanizing.
The American culture largely remains influential on the other cultures across the globe. The culture has had a considerable contribution to the politics, economic development, and the civil rights movements in the Asian nations, such as Japan, South Korea or Vietnam. However, the cultures form these countries have also remained influential on the American culture. The net effect is a hybrid culture that draws from both the cultures. In other words, these nations have not been Americanized per se.
Fackler, Martin. “U.S. Emerges as Central Stage in Asian Rivalry.” The New York Times, 22 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 March 2014
Giddens, Anthony. Runaway World. London: Profile, 2011. Print.
Guillen, Mauro F. “Is Globalization Civilizing, Destructive Or Feeble? A Critique of Five Key Debates in the Social Science Literature.” Annual Review of Sociology 27 (2001): 235-60.
Lam, Andrew. “All things Asian are becoming US.” SF Gate, 19 Dec. 2004. Web. 8 Apr. 2014.
Norberg, Johan. “The Noble Feat of Nike”. Yale Global Online. 13 Jun. 2003. Web. 8 Apr. 2014.
Verdu, Vicente. “We are all Americans.” World Press Review. 27 Apr. 2002. Web. 8 Apr. 2014.