The Struggles Around Inevitable Globalization Cultural Studies Essay


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There is ultimately no definitive definition of local as a spatial construct, the term is an imaginative construct which can be argued as being comparatively visible through the recent emergence of 'global' and globalization. The imagined local as we construct it usually relates to a more every day place, or space that has been unchanged or unspoiled, "represented as a static, bounded space where personal meanings are produced (and reproduced), cohesive cultural values are articulated, and traditional ways of life are lived"(Levinson. N 2004: abs) holding somewhat reactionary views on the fast changing global world. Reflecting upon the opening quote by Friedman, it arguably relates to Massey's assertion that the struggles of globalization lie with the local, as it the local that has is being changed and intimidated by the recent wave of globalization. In this essay I aim to look at what struggles have been generated by globalization, its global impact and how it has specifically affected the local. It is important to look at urban settlements and how they have been effected, how local culture has been impacted by the growth of the internet

Globalization in recent years has ultimately made a large spatial and visual impact on the western city as we know it, the emergence of brand identity and culture alongside the growth of large corporations has inevitably transformed the various local identities of individual cities to an arguably singular global identity alongside the emergence "of a homogenized, westernized, consumer culture" (Tomlinson, 2003 p.269) There are numerous viewpoints held on whether this aspect of globalization has been beneficial, but it appears to be widely regarded as having a detrimental effect upon society. Habermas puts forward the argument that globalization is a process that "threatens to dissolve the social glue that holds together already fragmented national societies", this could be interpreted to suggest that globalization has aided the destruction of cultural identity and also the imaginative geographies we have of certain locations. Local identity can be defined as "having a historic understanding and respect for the local areas, as well as having an awareness of the previous land use(s), demographics and architectural style/aesthetics" (Thomson, 2010). Many cities including those that have emerged as 'global cities' underwent significant change in the late 20th century, which can be argued was direct impact of globalization - local shops, produce and architecture has been replaced by corporate identities, franchise shops, and modernised buildings "The houses may be good, but they could be anywhere" (Red Tree, 2008, p.89); often stripping away the culture and atmosphere. This is ultimately one of the largest struggles facing globalization, as there is unwillingness from the local to lose this cultural identity, but it is often in the interests of large corporations who have sufficient money and power to make it happen. This correlates to Massey's comment on globalization, in that the main struggle is occurring within the local as those that wish to support the continuation of local cultural identity are often those who are in no position to effectively oppose it. The globalisation process does not necessarily effect the local on merely the physical aspects, as well as the visual and spatial changes, it can also impact upon the local people, as they themselves can lose a sense of identity as the process can "undermine peoples' understanding of their own collective identities… that allow a people to see itself as a nation"(Murali, 2010), it is important for people to understand their cultural backgrounds, removing this aspect could arguably remove a degree of local pride, affection and continuity. Drawing from Massey's statement that the heart of the struggle lies with the local, it could also be argued that if this is happening on a larger scale, that it could be a struggle in a global sense. Despite the apparent loss of local cultural identity that is occurring, there has also been movements and government involvement to help maintain and save local identity, through schemes such as the labelling of areas as "historic districts" in America which protects these areas by law from development i.e. Seaport Village District in Manhattan, New York has been classified as an historic district. This incentive alone proves that there is sufficient desire to maintain sites of cultural identity, and that these measures need to be put in place to curb development.

Globalization has had significant impact with the expansion of technology, mobile communication, and corporate growth i.e. the internet has been a catalyst in cultural globalization allowing people from all over the world from a variety of cultural backgrounds to communicate instantaneously. Although in 2007, Ghemawat of Harvard Business School argued that "despite talk of a new, wired world where information, ideas, money, and people can move around the planet faster than ever before, just a fraction of what we consider globalization actually exists"" insinuating that cultural globalization is still not as entwined as we may believe. The world has shrunk exponentially in time and imaginative space, even globalization itself, which was once synonymous with Americanization, is commercial and available for all. The main powers driving globalization in upcoming years is likely to be India, China and Brazil as opposed to initial globalization which was initiated by America and Europe, globalization of the local is now happening on an international scale "Globalization now belongs to everyone who can figure out how to take advantage of its opportunities and minimize its dislocations.  American-bred technology may be its midwife, but Americans are no longer solely the parents" (Gardels, N). This growth in cultural globalization has certainly led to possible local struggles, the world has become more accessible, but not necessarily for all, there is definitely some form of exclusion, although not necessarily deliberate; those who are unable to afford internet connections, or who have not grown up in this age of technological advancements may be limited in comparison when looking for jobs, or communicating, this exclusion is also mirrored within the local of the global, less economically developed countries who do not have such infrastructures set up are at a global disadvantage on various scales.

Globalization in turn with the neoliberal approach to economic markets has allowed private industries and corporations to expand vastly into a multitude of nations and continents since the late 20th Century. It can to be argued that the relationship between developing countries and globalization opposes Massey's view that "most struggles around globalization are inevitably local" (Massey 2005: 181). The initial plan for globalization under neoliberal economics was that all nations, developing and developed, would benefit from the movement of capital between countries due to interest rates, consumers would benefit from low cost goods due to cheap labour, countries exporting goods will gain from a wider market, offering increased competition and finally with a global economy, the higher the rate of production and increased levels of technology (DeLong, 1999).

TNCS - affectin the local, removing business, local families,

Also affecting the countries which they work in

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