Sending a message to someone across the other side of the globe, purchasing a plane ticket, even watching the news; these are all products of globalisation. A gradual process, globalisation has been assisted greatly by modern developments in technology and communication and is evidenced in everyday life.
Steger defines globalisation as “A multidimensional set of social processes that create, multiply, stretch and intensify worldwide social interdependencies and exchanges while at the same time fostering in people a growing awareness of deepening connections between the local and the distant” (2003). We now live in a global community, gifting us with abundant options and opportunities and simultaneously introducing issues on a worldwide scale, such as global warming and problems surrounding sustainability. It can be argued, however, that while globalisation has caused these problems to evolve and expand due to worldwide contribution, international connections and information will be helpful in finding solutions.
Canadian born Marshall McLuhan was the man who popularised, although did not devise, the concept of “the global village”. This is a concept focuses on the widely held notion that globalisation came to be through media, technology and communication and centres around a metaphorical central nervous system that connects everyone in the world. The title of “Global village” includes two seemingly opposing ideas, being the globe and the village, however clearly demonstrates globalisation. Interactions in the world as we know it emulate that of a village on a global scale.
While the term globalisation suggests a world-wide movement that is equally contributed to by all countries, many are referring to it as Americanisation. The United States are currently one of the most dominant countries in the world. Advances in technology and communication derived from first-world countries, American companies revolutionising products and services that have then spread throughout the world. Fast-food giant McDonald’s has retailers in over one hundred companies, serving around 69 million people every day. People living in developed countries can no longer go a day without seeing some sort of branding or advertising for Coca-Cola. American ways of life have seeped into multiple countries around the world, with a particular influence on developing countries, thus causing people to lament the loss of original culture in these countries.
Americanisation has resulted in a loss of smaller traditional communities, sacrificing unique ways of life, value systems and languages to the influence of the Western world. While Americanisation has been crucial for the survival of third world countries experiencing poverty and has improved living conditions for those living in these countries, many people hold the view that the Western world is taking over.
The visual global village is a Utopian concept of people communicating and exchanging in harmony, maintaining a certain ratio in terms of contribution to the world. In reality, the beliefs and practices of the Western world are reshaping the culture of more vulnerable countries, leaving us to fear that one day we will wake up in a world that is all American.