The Globalization of Culture: The Incidious Hegemony



Jim Bowman wrote: The way people think, and the way they relate to one another as human beings, is not going to be changed substantially by eating foreign fast food or using foreign words.

John Heelan comments: However, an indigenous culture is doubtlessly changed by a constant daily diet of US-originated films and TV series, even though dubbed into local language.  TV viewers especially start unconsciously absorbing the social attitudes and mores of the actors they observe constantly. [As  examples, the constant diet of Australian-based soap operas, aimed at late teenagers and  shown daily in the UK, has resulted in changes in the patterns of speaking by those UK teenagers- unlike normal British speech patterns, they use Australian words and the tone of their voices rises at the end of sentences.  Many younger teenagers ape the dress, walk, attitudes and actions of the "brothers in the 'hood" they see in films and TV shows. Older UK generations have become far more litigiously compensation-minded, even for minor accidents, following a mixture of behaviours they see modelled in US films and TV presentations- a move exacerbated by the growth of no-fee, ambulance-chasing lawyers based also on the US legal business model.]

So inter-human behaviour is changed substantially by constant exposure to foreign influences, especially visual,  that are constantly repeated to the extent that those behaviours become an internalised form of hegemony that makes certain views and behaviours seem "natural" or invisible, so much so that they hardly seem like changes at all, just "the way things are".

RH: I agree with John. What Ortega y Gasset called "the rebellion of the masses" was partly against all cultural norms. It is a global phenomenon. Germany used to be a land of poets, thinkers, and great musical composers, but Berlin is now desperately trying to be a leader of modern  kitsch. London claims to be swinging. Is that word suggestive of monkeys swinging in trees? The mood is like that of New York and Berlin in the twenties.   Will there be a day of reckoning as there was then?

I (RH) said " Germany used to be a land of poets, thinkers, and great musical composers, but Berlin is now desperately trying to be a leader of modern  kitsch" Francieco Ramirez (FR): Though Berlin today is perhaps less likely to engage in or tolerate mass murder.  A small matter from the perspective of some WAISers. 

RH: London claims to be swinging. Is that word suggestive of monkeys swinging in trees? The mood is like that of New York and Berlin in the twenties.   Will there be a day of reckoning as there was then?

FR: The day of reckoning was World War II?  And this was brought about by the descent to cultural mediocrity?

RH: First came the Great Depression, then World War II. America seemed so prosperous and giddily happy in the 20s that Europeans thought it had discovered the secret of permanent prosperity. Delegations were sent to find the secret of this success. The illusion came crashing down. Remember the  fable of the grasshopper and the ant. The people who are giddily happy today have no idea of what may hit them: the old cycle of depression and world war. We should think seriously about these dangers.  Stop swinging.



Your comments are invited. Read te home page of the World Association of International Studies (WAIS) by simply double-clicking on:   http://wais.stanford.edu/ E-mail to hilton@stanford.edu. Mail to Ronald Hilton, Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Please inform us of any change of e-mail address.

Ronald Hilton 2004

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last updated: October 22, 2004