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Smart Library on Globalization > Smart Library on Law and Globalization > What Is Globalization? > Overview: What Is Globalized and What Supports Globalization?
Globalization Is Fundamentally Cultural
The general process of globalization (including the globalization of law and economic practice) is based on the globalization of culture.
What Is Globalization?
Legal scholar Lawrence M. Friedman argues that the process of globalization is, at bottom, based on the globalization of culture. But what does “globalization” mean?
According to Friedman, “The core meaning [of globalization] reflects a change in scale and in site. The term refers to movement, diffusion and expansion from a local level and with local implications, to levels and implications that are worldwide, or, more usually, that transcend national borders in some way.”
Globalization is about the global movement of people, images, goods and ideas.
What Are Features of Contemporary Cultural Diffusion?
While the transnational diffusion of people, goods and culture is not new, the contemporary nature of the diffusion is different in important ways from early eras:
Even though such things as technologies, migration of individuals and commerce are involved in the process of globalization, culture remains the most important aspect of the process since the other aspects of globalization depend upon the globalization of culture.
The Content of Globalization
While trade and human capital are at the core of globalization, they, in turn, depend on a global culture. Global culture is the “messenger that prepares the way for international trade.” Global culture is to a great extent shaped and disseminated by the American media.
The American media influences global patterns of wants and desires, consumption and hoped-for consumption and the demands for goods and services. Globalizing trade goes beyond a mere transfer of goods. It involves a “globalization of consumption.” People around the world begin to want what Americans want.
How does globalization of consumption come about? Two important media are:
Who Are the Primary Consumers of Global Culture?
Although many people throughout the world do not have the resources to mimic American tastes, industrialization has caused a world-wide increase in the middle class. The main consumers of this global culture are in this large global middle class. He describes this middle class as “consumers of fun.” This is the brute fact operating as the motor underlying the driving force of the economic aspects of globalization. While not everything American is globalized, when it comes to creating and appealing to middle class tastes, America is dominant.
Is the resemblance of middle class consumption merely a matter of external appearance (for example, middle class Japanese may dress and eat like middle class Americans or French), but does the similarity go deeper? Aren’t Japanese, fundamentally, still Japanese? While cultural differences remain, the similarities of global consumer culture create real and deep similarities. In Friedman’s words, “If you dress modern, eat modern, use modern tools, then you become modern. Your thought processes are, inevitably, altered.”
Data and Methods:
Review of legal research.
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Friedman, Lawrence M. 2001. “Erewhon: The Coming Global Legal Order.” Stanford Journal of International Law 37:347-64.
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