Globalization remains one of the most common and controversial trends affecting all facets of life. Globalization alters non-western cultural practices. This paper reviews the effects of globalization on the cultures of Ghana and Japan. The issues of western cultural domination on mass media in Ghana and the emergence of Americanization trends in Japan are analyzed. The paper discusses the negative implications of globalization for non-western cultural practices. Societies’ response to globalization and its influence is described.
Keywords: globalization, non-western, culture, Ghana, Japan
Effects of Globalization on Non-Western Cultural Practices
Globalization is one of the most popular objects of research and cultural analysis. Its meaning is often taken for granted. For the purpose of this assignment, globalization is defined as “any force that creates an unexpected, uniform, sometimes disruptive condition across heretofore-impermeable boundaries within which the relevant conditions were previously varied” (Mobley & Weldon, 2006, p.146). In other words, globalization is the process by which the existing differences are being erased: local norms give place to universal traditions and conventions. It should be noted, that globalization by itself is neither negative nor positive. However, its effects and reactions differ greatly across cultures. More often than not, globalization destroys the uniqueness of non-western cultures, turning them into a common element of the uniform cultural landscape. The examples of Ghana and Japan suggest that globalization does have the potential to erase cultural boundaries, generating different responses on the side of native non-western cultures.
Globalization greatly affects non-western cultural practices. The example of Ghana is very demonstrative: the culture of Ghana, especially its media part, has suffered tremendous influences of globalization. Apart from the fact that the cultural production and media industry in Ghana have been concentrated in the hands of 10 Western transnational media companies, the rise of technologies and elimination of geographic borders facilitate the global cultural interventions changing the nature of cultural practices in Ghana (Gadzekpo, 2005). Certainly, in the era of globalization and information technologies, Ghana has better opportunities to advertise and promote its cultural products. Unfortunately, the pressure of western norms does not allow Ghana to realize its cultural potentials to the fullest. The flow of information and cultural development is unidirectional (Gadzekpo, 2005). The influence of globalization on the Ghanaian culture and media practices is unintentional but direct. In response, means of the local media try to generate their cultural content and, in this way, resist to the cultural domination forces coming from the West (Gadzekpo, 2005). Yet, they are too weak to withstand the pressure of globalization.
Meanwhile, Japan experiences similar influences. Japanese hip-hop, a new cultural trend and the direct product of globalization, is conquering the hearts and minds of Japanese adolescents (Condry, 2001). In Condry’s (2001) view, Japanese hip-hop is a direct but not the only by-product of the globalization of popular culture. Tokyo resembles New York in many different senses: there are youth stores with rap music playing in the background (Condry, 2001). Unlike media companies in Ghana, youth in Japan willingly accept globalization as a positive trend, readily adopt new habits and make fashionable decisions. As a result, according to Condry (2001), it is no longer weird to see teenagers in New York and Tokyo wearing similar clothes and listening to the same rap music. Again, the influences of globalization on the youth culture in Japan are direct but unintentional. It is also one of the rare examples when the influence of globalization on a non-western culture is neither negative nor positive but, rather, neutral.
The two examples uncover interesting commonalities in how globalization affects non-western cultures. First, its influences are often unintentional, coming through the rapid proliferation of communication and media technologies. The Internet, television and radio are becoming widely available in the non-western world, and they bring new trends and influences that change individual perceptions of culture. Second, globalization trends originate in the western world, mostly, the United States. In Ghana, American media companies govern the nation’s media industry, whereas in Japan teenagers take American rap as a model of cultural development. Third, more often than not, globalization disrupts non-western cultures and erases their unique features. Neither Japan nor Ghana are secured from these influences. Most probably, as a result of the rapid technological advancement, globalization will sharpen the conflicts between itself and national cultures. It is possible to assume that non-western cultures will continue their fight against global destruction.