Marshall McLuhan’s idea of a ‘global village’ is good in theory, however is it truly benefitting every culture, every country? Has this village become a utopia or a dictatorship? The idea is that the globalisation of communication and advances in modern technologies has caused the world to seem much smaller, in that people from all parts of the world have been brought together due to the ease and speed of travel, communication such as mobile phones and social media, and thus the spread of information.
“The world may be a global village but it is not a global community” (Wang, Y. 2007) . I think this quote has great importance to today’s society in that yes, globalisation has created a ‘village’ where we can quickly and easily communicate, travel and transfer goods and information from one side of the world to the other, however there is no real sense of community. A community should be a place where there is “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals” (Oxford dictionary), however, this is not the case in today’s society. Western culture is treated as of much higher value, and the rest of the world is inadequate in comparison. No matter how advanced we have become in regards to technology, Western culture has dominated and resulted in a capitalistic and materialistic world, where money is more highly valued than tradition, and the gap between third and first world countries is ever expanding. The mass media has played a large role in the formation of this global village.
Western culture has spread throughout the world, and different mediums of media, including television, social media and print media, have sped up this process a thousand fold. We are able to converse and share information with people hundreds of thousands of kilometers away simply and quickly with just one instant message, phone call or email. Globalisation has proven to have positive outcomes in this sense, however, culturally the world has become less and less diverse. On every continent, in every country, in almost every city across the globe, we see McDonald’s, Nike, any trademark western corporation you can name, it’s there. Even the domination of the English language is evidence of the westernisation of the world. I’ve travelled to several different countries whose first language is not English, and gone there not knowing a single word except maybe “hello”, “goodbye” or “thank you” in the native language, yet seemingly every local person that I spoke to could understand, and respond in, English. This is a perfect example of cultural imperialism.
Western countries have increasingly appropriated other cultures, especially Asian cultures, into everyday life. In music, film and every medium, we see evidence of other cultures. But where does the appropriation become poor taste? Traditional goods and fashions that are considered sacred and ancient traditions in their cultures of origin have become gimmicks to the western world. In traditional settings, these are hand made and have deep spiritual or religious meaning, however western countries have exploited these traditions. Take the Native American headdress for example, being mass made, and used as props or costumes. The Bindi, a traditional South Asian forehead decoration, has been appropriated by western societies, and is worn by festival goers, and also mass produced (somewhat ironically) in Asian countries.
American brands and corporations continue to exploit third world countries; for goods, labour, and also land. Big corporations like Nokia have outsourced much of their workload into call centers based in Asia, for cheaper than in the USA or Australia. Although this provides more opportunities to people in third world countries, the conditions are usually poor, with low wages and long hours.
The ‘global village’ gives the idea that everyone’s values, culture and traditions are equal, and we are free to share information, however when we really break it down, it is clear that Western values and culture are dominant. There is a fine line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, however the line between Western culture and traditional world cultures is clearly defined.
Wang, Y. 2007, “Globalization enhances cultural identity.” Intercultural Communication Studies 16.1, pp. 83-86
O’Shaughnessy, M and Stadler, J (2008) ‘Globalisation’, Media and Society (5th edition) Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 458-471.
2015, Community, Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press, viewed 13th August 2015
Turner, J. 2012, Navigating the Global, NSW HSC Online, viewed 13th August 2015
Talimonov, A. 2008, Global Village, image, Toon Pool, viewed 12th August 2015
Hooper, A. 2014, (cultural appropriation of headdress), image, Aoxoa.co viewed 13th August 2015