The modern world exists in an era of globalization, which suggests increased interactions among people from all around the world. This further establishes cross-cultural integration and leads to a larger presence of multiculturalism within countries. Some people believe this to be a negative tendency that disrupts cultures by weakening the sense of social solidarity. However, it can be argued that globalization creates one unified culture that fosters a world of shared cultural traditions. This essay will argue that globalization has a positive impact on fostering a united world society due to the cultural enrichment caused by the sharing of traditions.
To understand the possible effects of globalization on culture, it is important to comprehend what each of the two concepts means. In sociology, culture is a key aspect as it concerns all social behaviors exhibited by a group of people. Croteau and Hoynes (2019) define culture as “the collection of values, beliefs, knowledge, norms, language, behaviors, and material objects shared by a people and socially transmitted from generation to generation” (p. 52). In other words, a culture is a group of all behaviors that can be transferred socially.
In contemporary society, globalization is a key idea that covers all areas of life, which is why it is crucial to understand the meaning of this term. According to Croteau and Hoynes (2019), globalization suggests that “more people, products, and ideas flow across national borders” (p. 70). Therefore, globalization is a process of economic, political, and cultural integration that furthers interaction among people from all over the planet.
Multiculturalism and Cultural Relativism
One of the effects of globalization is the increased multiculturalism that is present in various societies. Croteau and Hoynes (2019) define multiculturalism as “the recognition, valuing, and protection of the distinct cultures that make up a society” (p. 66). In the United States, this is particularly evident as American society is composed of multiple diverse cultures. Multiculturalism allows for the enrichment of a country’s societal basis and allows its citizens to learn from each other. Therefore, it is important to appreciate and cherish these cultures as they form the identities of the country’s citizens.
Another positive impact of globalization is the increased sense of cultural relativism. This concept is the understanding that all cultures are different and exist by their own standards (Croteau & Hoynes, 2019). Globalization raises awareness of the presence of diverse societies as they become visible. It is critical that cultural relativism is incorporated into the world’s society because each person’s identity should be treated with respect.
The lack of multiculturalism and cultural relativism can lead to ethnocentrism, which is a belief that suggests that one culture is essentially better than others. Croteau and Hoynes (2019) state that this concept implies that these other cultures can be judged “by the standards of one’s own on the assumption that one’s own is superior” (p. 69). Ethnocentrism can lead to various detrimental consequences, such as xenophobia, which is defined as unreasonable prejudice and even hatred against other cultures (Croteau & Hoynes, 2019). Xenophobia causes racial and cultural conflicts and directly interferes with people’s rights to be who they are. One example of xenophobia is the fascist idea that the Jewish people are inferior, which historically led to the genocide during World War II. Clearly, ethnocentrism and the subsequent xenophobia lead to weakened relations between world cultures.
Some people believe that globalization leads to the weakening of social solidarity. According to Croteau and Hoynes (2019), social solidarity means “the collective bonds that connect individuals” (p. 10). Emile Durkheim, one of the founders of the field of sociology, believed that social solidarity could be achieved through shared cultural values and customs (Croteau & Hoynes, 2019). This would suggest that globalization has a negative effect on social solidarity as, with the presence of so many cultures, it would be hard for one to feel like a part of a specific group.
However, social solidarity can still be maintained even in a multicultural society. This can be accomplished through the appreciation of all the diverse cultures present and the respect towards their traditions and values. Communities should allow each individual to behave in compliance with their personal background. The visibility of one’s culture in media is key as it helps exhibit groups of people that one can identify with. Furthermore, one’s identity can be formed and supported in the context of subcultures (Croteau & Hoynes, 2019). A person does not merely identify with the specific ethnicity they belong to but also with particular interests shared within a group. The feeling of belonging strengthens social solidarity, even if the community that one associates with is culturally diverse.
Creating a Unified World Culture
Globalization creates a unified world culture through shared traditions and customs. Due to multiculturalism caused by globalization, societies continue to blend (Croteau & Hoynes, 2019). Furthermore, Croteau and Hoynes (2019) suggest that “many different cultures do share common values” (p. 70). Evidently, some communities are more similar to each other than it is usually considered, which means that social solidarity can be maintained across distinct categories of people. This, in turn, suggests the grounds for the unification of these groups based on their common values. Through social solidarity, different societies can, therefore, share their traditions, creating a more amalgamated world culture.
Being a significantly prevalent tendency, globalization has its impacts on world culture. These effects are beneficial as they help promote respect for people of different backgrounds through the concepts of multiculturalism and cultural relativism. Acknowledging cultural diversity reinforces the bonds between people, which subsequently helps build a more cohesive and unified society. Similarly, the presence of subcultural groups allows for a deeper sense of social solidarity.
Croteau, D., & Hoynes, W. (2019). Experience sociology (4th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.