Along with the development of technology, especially the internet and media, globalization has risen rapidly throughout the world. The impacts of globalization have been the focus of a number of recent academic studies on global cultural influence. Some scholars argue that the foreign cultural influences, especially imported media, may erode local culture. Others claim that pure culture has not existed or cultural interaction has always happened, so the foreign culture does not damage traditional culture.
Therefore, this review will examine the literature on foreign cultural influences, in particular media effects. An increasing number of studies (the UN, 2003; Arnett, 2002; Morris, 2002) have examined the integration of global and local cultures based on conflicting views of cultural imperialism theory. This term refers to the domination of one culture over other cultures, and it is often associated with the dominance of American values and ideologies in recent years.
The UN perspective agrees with the proponents of this theory, which asserts that globalization process has led to homogenization of culture and eroded local culture. In contrast, Arnett and Morris point out that hybridization between local and foreign cultures is a result of global cultural flows, which produces more diversity of culture. Furthermore, Morris uses the ‘deep structure’ of culture to explain how cultures preserve and retain traditional values, so the culture cannot be homogenized by global flows.
Although these perspectives belong to different fields of global culture or media and could conflict in some ways, their contribution to research is significant. Based on the thesis that the foreign culture erodes local culture, the UN claims cultural homogenization seems to be a result of globalization or one- way flow of global culture from developed to developing countries. They argue that this global flow is the movement of technology and cultural products from West to East, which erodes the local values by the dominance of western values such as commodification and individualism.
This flow is mainly promoted by America. The UN refers to the example of African countries where the French media dominates the local media and a main proportion of the global media which is dominated by the western media, specifically the American media. This indicates that global cultural influences lead to weaken local culture as a problem of homogenization. In other words, the foreign influences erode the distinctiveness of local culture and national identities. Furthermore, this undermines cultural diversity.
The research of the UN is a warning for many countries due to a threat of global cultural homogenization. Nevertheless, the UN does not analyze the resiliency of local culture in order to adopt and adapt some elements of foreign culture into their culture. Both Arnett and Morris agree that culture has ability to accept, integrate the external values of culture. This leads to increase of cultural diversity. Arnett asserts that cultural hybridization is a result of globalization. He argues that the integration of local and global culture increases local cultural diversity.
Such diversity does not damage to traditional culture. He uses the example of young I. T workers in India, who simultaneously use global and local culture as they form their bicultural identity. This means they not only continue to develop global culture’s values in their work, but they also retain their local culture, such as marriage custom and their family values as caring for their parent in old age. Therefore, global culture may increase local cultural diversity, rather than eroding the local culture thesis.
Nevertheless, some people cannot form their bicultural identity, so they choose self- selected identity formation. The self- selected identity refers to enthusiastic about participation in global culture and carefully choosing values of global culture to construct the own identity. In addition, Morris not only agrees with the Arnett’s idea of cultural hybridization, but she also has a detailed analysis of the hybridization. She claims that global culture is not a one- way flow but multidirectional influence of cultural hybridization.
The African and Latin American influences of music on American music’s culture are an example of multidirectional influence. The process of integrating African and Latin American elements of music into American music refers to cultural glocalisation. Furthermore, she argues that cultures have never been pure, that they have always been influenced by notions from other cultures, but resiliency of culture mainly prevents its own values being contaminated be extrinsic influences.
Therefore, although there is a little evidence entailing the damage to local culture or homogenization of traditional cultural identity, local cultures are not eroded by foreign cultural effects. However, Morris’ agreement that modern technology does not cause homogenization of culture or eroded local cultures seems to be weak. The accelerated pace of technology in the 20th and 21st centuries is different or the speed of technological change today is quicker than before, so the changed speed of technology leads to a different way for cultures to adapt.
Hence, this leads to some cultures being at risk of being overwhelmed or unable to resist foreign cultural influences. Whereas, in the historical example of influence given by Morris, the movement of influence was slower and interaction between cultures developed over long period of time, which caused adaption of local cultures from absorption of foreign ideas perhaps more gradual and thus less threatening as compared to today.
Such analyses are significant for further research; however they have neglected the power difference between the influencing culture and the receiving culture. They greatly ignore which cultures are the influencing and receiving, and why they have strong fundamental values to survive and therefore resist the homogenizing influence or being erosion from another culture. This is particularly relevant to the relationship of economic strength and cultural strength or popularity that are not accounted for.