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Globalization is a historical process that has been continuing over the centuries. It involves homogenization of the world, the movement towards universality of many aspects of the global society from the concepts of value, religion, and norms of behavior to financial and economic activities. Globalization is also recognition of the increasing interdependence, the main consequence of which is the active work of the new forces of planetary scene – global businesses, religious groups, and transnational management structures (networks), which interact on an equal footing not only among themselves but also among the countries. As Conrad Kottak puts it, globalization is “accelerating links between nations and people in a world system connected economically, politically, and by modern media & transportation” (Kottak, 2012).
Globalization is not a linear process. It develops in waves and has already passed more than one period – humanity moves into a new technological revolution, i.e. to replace the first wave (agrarian civilization) and the second wave (industrial civilization), comes a new wave, leading to creation of super-industrial civilization. A dialectical nature of globalization, its causal sufficiency, is expressed in the existence of two opposing trends: a) uniformization along with decreasing diversity (disappearance of some languages, plant species, etc.) and b) growth of differences in the levels and ways of life. There is also the process of transformation of the cultural space and formation of global cultural stereotypes. Transformation also affects the areas of economy and business. Hence, the conclusion can be made that globalization mostly affects three areas – politics, economics, and culture.
Changing and unifying—though to a certain extent—the economic life globalization, contrary to conventional wisdom, erects new frontiers and barriers in culture, economics, and politics. This is what Kottak calls “the great paradox of the contemporary world”, when “both integration and disintegration are increasing” (Kottak, 2012). While some countries are more closely attached to the knowledge economy, others still rely on raw materials. The political implications of these vectors of social and economic development are not too similar to each other, and, therefore, the world, uniform in some respects, is notably increasing contrasts and variations in the other. This, in turn, means waking up many points of tension, which previously were in a latent and dormant state. Thus, globalization is a system process, the development of which comes in waves; it affects all areas of society and combines the processes of unification and strengthening of isolation, local development of certain trends, and occurrence of points of tension.
In the process of globalization two trends can be defined. The first one is spontaneous development as the property of the steady development of civilization, the expansion of its capacity, with necessarily inherent degree of disorder and lack of control of the process, particularly, in non-core and peripheral areas (it is here that negative consequences of the process are accumulated). The second one is the tendency of managed ordering, expressing the trend of unification of efforts and possibilities of solving global issues, to optimize the joint satisfaction of similar and common development needs (for this purpose all sorts of unifying institutions are created, regulating the development of the world economy and politics, international cultural organizations, both permanent and temporary acting, which produce mechanisms and strategies to address the emerging problems). Therefore, representing globalization as an uncontrollable power is wrong.
In this respect, it is interesting to consider the concept of “cultural imperialism”. This concept has appeared in the nineteenth century due to the colonial policies of the British Empire. But at that time, the term had a positive connotation. After the World War I and the growing criticism of imperialism (e.g. by Vladimir Lenin and Woodrow Wilson) “cultural imperialism” has acquired a negative value. Today, the classic definition of the term may sound like “the use of political and economic power for distribution of cultural values of one state to the territory of the other”.
The debate on this issue has changed dramatically in the second half of the twentieth century. Having started as more of a public debate that was provoked by politicians, journalists, and academics, it ultimately focused on the political aspects – the use of culture as a factor of effective foreign policy instrument, urging politicians to pay more attention to informing the world community about the United States, including information about culture. This resulted in an active policy of ideological propaganda of the epoch of the Cold War.
In the 1960-1970’s, this topic gradually transformed into a discussion about cultural imperialism, focusing on the economic and psychological aspects of culture. Many researchers have concluded that too much American could be found overseas. They traced a very strong influence of American culture, which resulted in the above mention academic debate around the issue of cultural imperialism. But under the influence of the resistance, which was met by the U.S. cultural expansion on the side of the publicity of other states, and under the influence of poststructuralist ideas of the late 80’s, most of the leading experts on this issue have changed their approach to the problem.
To date, representatives of Western scientific thought basically abandoned the definition of “cultural imperialism”, considering this phenomenon as a continuous process of interaction at the cultural level of ethnic groups and nations, which is the cultural manifestation of globalization.
In the U.S academic circles, the idea concerning the absence of a “true American culture” and cultural values is also cultivated , for in connection with the development of high technology, mass media, and revolution in cyberspace (which is a manifestation of globalization), American culture has become a worldwide, universal culture. The researchers holding this view believe, accordingly, that it is impossible to speak of any cultural imperialism or expansion of the United States, since in the conditions of a globalized world a new supra-national universal culture is emerging, based on American mass culture. In this regard, it is also appropriate to bring the point of view that America, especially in its infancy, was to a large extent under the influence of cultures of different countries and regions, importing these cultural values, which became the foundation of American multicultural society.
The term globalization refers more to politics, even political economy. The concept of globalization is largely undefined, vague, but its frequent use is the evidence of a new phase of integrative processes between countries, regions, and types of cultures. Thus, it is possible to conclude that globalization is a system process that is manifested in multiplication and complication of social relations, the effect of which leads to a supranational integration, particularly in the field of economics, culture, politics, engineering and technology, information, law, management and, as a result, to the emergence of some complex system, which begins to function as a single organism with its structures and institutions. In the course of this process, the problems that concern the foundations of human existence (individual and society), the solution of which is impossible by localized efforts (the so-called global problems), arise. The deployment of the process of globalization in the modern civilization has an impact on society (formation of new needs, conditions and forms of communication, value orientation, forms and methods of self-identification of individuals and social groups) and on the way of life and mentality of people. This leads to appearance of a special relationship between globalization as a qualitative characteristic of the level of development of modern civilization and culture.
The most important issue on the agenda concerns the image of the future (world, economic development, relationships between various regions of the world) and, accordingly, the role of different types of cultures and man’s place among them.