Globalisation

Globalists are sociologist who argue that globalisation is occurring. Technology is creating and allowing for the development of a global village (McLuhan 1962). Hyper globalists see this as a positive feature of contemporary society, they see technology ‘shrinking’ the world as a positive thing. Pessimist globalists have the opposite view, they do not see globalisation as an inevitable positive aspect for society and the people and institutions within them. Globalisation simply refers to the way societies across the globe have become increasingly interconnected. Different cultures are exposed to similar media products and this has lead to a world wide popular culture.

Certainly during my travels the predominant culture sharing through the media and media programmes comes from the Western cultures. I’ve seen Friends in many different languages now! This is one issue with globalisation – cultural imperialism. Cultural imperialism refers to the domination of the Western world across cultures. This occurs due to global conglomerates being able to access international markets without owning a business in the location. Advertising is another avenue of spreading Western culture, this is done predominately through internet advertisements on sites such as Facebook. McDonaldisation is a further phenomenon that I have spotted, this is where ever you go in the world you will see the same products, the same standardisation, uniformity of shops and restaurants and low skilled work. I remember travelling in the East and being really disappointed to see the same shops and restaurants that I would see at home, this is referred to as cultural homogenisation. I don’t think we can be any doubt that conglomerates are leading to Americanisation of the world 😢

Popular culture 

Popular culture is that which is liked and consumed by ordinary people. It is referred to as mass culture and sometimes in a derogatory way as low culture. The following video summarises this well but before you watch it the term High culture needs to be understood. High culture is something that is set apart from everyday life, it has a long lasting effect and will be around indefinitely. It is mainly associated with the middle and upper class as it includes things such as theatre and art galleries, this ‘good taste’ culture is expensive therefore is not for the masses. However postmodernist would argue this is no longer pervasive the case. They believe the distinction between popular and high culture is blurred since accessibility to the arts became available to all at low cost through the Internet.

Popular culture in the form of mass culture, as you saw in the video, is criticised for diverting attention away from the important aspects of society. Many see it as a way of social control by dumbing down, making trivial media escapist and fantastifical it maintains social order and reinforces the hegemony of the dominant class. However this view is critiqued for making the assumption that the audience is passive. Strinati (1995) pointed out that the substantial choice people have goes against this idea of passive uncritical audiences. Livingston (1988) points out that actually a lot of the popular mass media tackles substantial social and individual issues which are hard to address. The products of popular culture can help social change and acceptance by highlighting issues such as homelessness, suicide rates, depression, gender etc.