Impact of Globalization
The onset of globalization has drastically changed the lives of millions of people worldwide. Latin America is no exception. In the last three decades, the process of globalization has dynamically altered various aspects of life – economics, politics, and social endeavors, among others – in the most unprecedented ways (Denis & Heyck, p. 2). It has changed the old geo political systems and economic boundaries, including business and social structures and political institutions. For one, structural agencies such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the multinational companies have affected the Latin American nations like no other (p. 3). Inherently, globalization has accelerated social polarization (Grumber, p. 28). This happens as the national income becomes concentrated in the hands of an elite few. Latin America shows this polarization as about 40% of its population fell below the poverty line (p. 29). Interestingly, even when the world has been globalized and works in a singular path and motion, the poor population in the Latin American region remains the same (or even increases).
The positive and the negative effects of globalization in the economic aspect also impact the socio cultural aspects. The social systems for producing, exchanging and consuming goods are translated into various changes in the meanings, beliefs, preferences and value systems of the people (Movius, p. 2). The important socio cultural impact of globalization shall be explored in this paper. Its main argument is that globalization has brought forth various negative effects in the cultural aspects of the Latin American people. These effects far outweigh the trinkets of positive development associated with globalization and its numerous processes. Hence, this paper aims to search for more democratic ways to reduce the socio cultural impact of globalization, particularly in the economic aspect which directly leads to socio cultural consequences.
Approach to Developing the Project Exam
At present, it is obvious that the workings of global restructuring, liberalization, and technological advancements have led to greater competition. This inherently leads to increased poverty, work insecurity, deteriorating social support systems, and damaged social identities and values (Keeling, p. 3). To illustrate, with the neoliberal policies of global institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, the Latin American societies are adversely affected in terms of reduced social services. As their governments are dictated by these financial institutions to pay more of their national debts, they instantly reduce their budgets for social services. Thus, it aggravates the already poor conditions of the Latin American people. To wit, even when these Latin American countries dedicate 18% of their GDP to their social services, most of them actually extend less than 10% to such basic national requirement (p. 4).
In another instance, it is obvious that the rapid trade liberalization and flows of investments damage the Latin American countries’ domestic capacities and this ultimately leads to salary or wage reduction, unemployment, market depression, among others (p. 5). These also deter productive investments since interest rates become higher (p. 5).
The Latin American Culture
In order to discuss the impact of globalization on Latin American culture, it is best to first consider the fundamental Latin American identity or what makes them a distinct and coherent region when benchmarked with other countries. This is to assess if the Latin American culture is necessarily and fundamentally intact or against the process of “westernization” that globalization seems to involve (Laurell, p. 101). Latin America is usually characterized as a unified region, wherein various countries share a “common language, common colonial past, common religion, and similar aesthetic traditions” and a “comparable mestizo ethnic makeup and experienced similar political and economic histories” (Keeling, p. 6). However, some scholars argue that this is just a stereotyped image of a homogenous continent (p. 8). There is also the perennial ambivalence that the Latin American scholars tend to exhibit towards the western paradigm as associated with the region’s modernity and development (p. 8).
This paper is convinced that the Latin American culture have some unique and common cultural foundations even when there are major and highly relevant political, economic, and social discontinuities among each Latin American nation (Stiglitz, p. 85). Also, instead of finding the negative images and differences, it is best to highlight the backward or pre capitalistic characteristics of the region as the starting point for further reviewing the positive or negative effects of globalization. According to Streeten (p. 21), these should be considered as being historically, symbolically, and materially embedded in the Western project; it is in the perspective that the peripheral regions like Latin America takes after the economic and political developments in the center regions like North America. It is also best to note that in the greater part of the 20th century, Latin American nationalists have deplored the region’s submission to the western and central regions or countries like the United States by highlighting its non-Western character (p. 29).
As mentioned above, the economic processes underlying the forces of globalization have important cultural consequences (Movius, p. 3). These economic processes include rapid growth in foreign trading, communication flows, and mobility of both people and resources. Simultaneously, economic activities also tend to become regionalized as economic integration has also become more dynamic, i.e. Mercosur and NAFTA. However, the salient features of today’s globalized and increased economic inter-linkages is limited to the basic changes in the very processes of production which may have a vital cultural impact on working life of the Latinos (p. 3).
In a special study, it was reported that there are significant differences between the basic values of people in different cultural groups (Stefanovic, p. 1). While the values of the wealthier societies differ systematically from those of the less developed nations, the “worldview of a given people reflects their own general historical heritage” (p. 1). Hence, the Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico showed similar values across a broad range of topics. In short, even with the tumultuous economic changes brought by globalization, there is still a greater part of their cultural identity which is heavily anchored in their historical experience (p. 1). Hence, economic factors alone do not determine what people want and how they behave (p. 1). However, they also affect the cultural values of the Latinos.
The Effects of Globalization on Local Latin American Cultures
Globalization processes have a wide reaching effect on social structures, which in turn have an impact on cultural patterns (Grumber, p. 93). This is because social structures now move across national boundaries and elites now globally interact than ever before. Global economic functions have paved the way for upward mobility, especially for the middle classes and up and more for the young professionals in the greater, urban centers in Latin America. However, this small upward mobility is also corresponded by an amount of downward mobility for other Latin Americans. For example, there is a loss of culture in the migration of Latin American singers. This does not indicate the great fondness of the Latin Americans for the American pop culture. It is more of the economic reason, i.e. they cannot equally compete with the studio marketing machines of bigger nations like the United States and Mexico (p. 94).
Being saturated by American and Mexican music, this now makes it impossible for the Latin American singers to circulate their own narratives, images and sounds to their own country” let alone beyond their borders (p. 95). Culturally, this has a great impact on the shaping of their identity. In a study conducted by the University of Miami’s College of Arts and Science, there is now a weak recall for Latin American singers. Their subjects found it hard to name a Latin American singer as compared to American and Mexican singers. As the western musical giant, Billboard.com, has shown, in the last ten years, there have been less than 10 singers from the Latin American region (p. 95). They were not even listed in the charts as Latin American or Central American singer under the general category of “International” singers (p. 98).
In terms of values, the old Latin ethos based mainly on trust and loyalty is now replaced by western workplace values of performance and achievement (Yudice, p. 37). Their belief in contractual relationships is now discarded since they now think it is a hindrance to efficient business management. Consequently, those Latinos who previously depended on family or networks to attain or maintain high positions in society now has to show achievement or they will confront failure. This is not to generalize that American standards now tend to prevail everywhere and that local cultural patterns are being discarded. However, it is evident that there is now a tendency to rationalize the use of resources, which does not really conflict with Latin American culture. This is to illustrate that some cultural changes, like in workplace values, do not necessarily mean negative or positive.
It is in the more rural Latin American communities that the cultural impact of globalization is greatly felt. The globalization processes are now integrated in Latin America with the present industrialization, urbanization, and modernization. Generally, the major impact of these modernizations is in the virtual disappearance of the traditional Latin American way of life. Their indigenous communities are altered by the introduction of television, cars, supermarkets, mass-produced clothing and fashion, etc. (p. 39).
These social trends are also shifting the nature of ties between Latin American individuals and groups by their impact on individual consciousness and social relations (p. 38). For example, the Yucatec Maya are becoming more conscious of the material world, with the intensified interactions with media and other alien agents (p. 40). In a special research, the viewing of TV in the Brazilian Amazon is said to have resulted in the “new conceptualizations of time and space, in the modification of work patterns; in a new wave of consumerism, in a massive shift in expectations to life and to the community, and in the changes in the public and private spheres (p. 40). The usual socialization time they spend with friends and neighbors and in being active in their community had declined with TV watching (p. 40). Their socialization patterns have also revolved around TV watching.
The more sophisticated impact of globalization can be seen from the interaction among migrants from rural areas to the rapidly growing urban cities in Latin America. These immense and highly expanding centers of urbanization reflect the centrality of cities in not just the local or national levels but on the global level. The major cities of Latin America are showing these characteristics. They have mimicked western cities around the world. In a short period of one generation, there has been a very profound change in the nature of the cultural impacts to which their migrants are oriented now. These migrants have attained an embellished consciousness of the external world as well as a form of “cultural literacy” that allows them to develop, for instance, a better understanding of micro and macroeconomic issues, which they did not have access to when they were residing in the rural areas. This has also led to the widening gap between the rich and the poor, with those that can bridge themselves apart from the poor through education or social connections (p. 41). Meanwhile, the higher strata in the Latin American society are increasingly “wired” (p. 41). They have become creatures of technologies as well. They have mobile phones, Internet and they have established social media relationships as well.
A major backlash for a Latin American city that has maintained its economic attractiveness as an industrial center for local markets is that it can be a dead town once the forces or elements of globalization have left (p. 42). This is exemplified by Lima, which has become a dead town at global scale as globalization forces set into bigger cities such as Mexico D. F. and Sâo Paulo (p. 42). Certainly, this kind of erratic shift can bring the socio cultural consequences like sudden poverty, prostitution, robbery and other crimes, lack of education, among others. It even questions the integrity of national communities. While the prospects of turning into a hot city is also looming, the possibility of remoteness from the center is also omnipresent. This leads to cultural mechanisms and adaptations that alter the social fibers of the region.
Globalization has left the Latin America population in shambles as they only expect to adapt or perish. They must work on strategies to deal with the forces of global development and how to adopt or counteract it. If they will only consolidate their cultural capital, they will also discover their inner strengths as a people and their power to challenge this new global era.
There are no heed to actually counter globalization but there is a strong caution towards losing one’s own culture and social identity. The indigenous people of the Latin American communities can become the “losers” of globalization. They are already victims of poverty, injustice, social destabilization and cultural disintegration at this juncture and this shall continue if they do not act. These communities should come up with alternatives that are necessary for their survival. They must challenge the “values underlying globalization” (Stieglitz, p. 29). The local villagers of the Latin American communities have already initiated local control over their resources since these were important for their economic and cultural survival. They have proposed a “localist value to alter the centralized control as practiced by far flung, foreign experts or self-interested and usually corrupt Latin American politicians.
The Latin American people must be democratized. They have to be included politically, economically and socially. They need to be able to be active participants in the decision-making process. This is also vital in ensuring their cultural liberty, giving them the freedom to choose their own lifestyles (p. 27). True democracy would enable the Latin American people to be informed and involved in the decisions and it will make them create a society in which they want to live in.
The Latinos must be included in open discussions and this would also enable for the minority population to be heard as well. Most of the Latin American democracies are not legitimate democracies and their economic and political rights are not fully enjoyed. Until now, most of the governments of Latin America are very corrupt. They do not give full support and protection for their people. The government, as well as the international bodies, should be the primary agencies in protecting the rights and the culture of the Latin American people. It is not only the responsibility of the indigenous people of Latin American to protect their culture and traditions (p. 42).
The Latin American people should seek recognition of their most important customs, livelihood and traditions. They should also be well compensated for what is taken from them and this is right for them to do so, For example, Ecuador has one of the largest oil reserves in Latin America and while high taxes are paid for this, there is little which is allocated to the local people, especially the indigenous. These are issues for the Latin American government to take care of, including the global community as well.
Latin America and the global community should be in the same outlook as to how to preserve and cultivate the local cultures and traditions while promoting economic development. They must work together to adjust to the changing global rules and national laws or else, the local cultures of the people will die.
At the onset, they must be on equal footing when it comes to being involved in the investment flow, ideas and knowledge, which only benefit the national elite at present. To protect culture and traditions, the vital elements must be enshrined into national laws. To exemplify, Guatemala has laws that promote the wider use of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions. These are under state protection. Aspects of culture, economics and traditional knowledge that is vital to the total development of the Latin America people must be protected, i.e. the Venezuelan liquors and teas.
Global trade and investment policies must also account for cultural sensitivities and customary property rights. Another addition to their laws that could help protect certain aspects of the Latin American culture would be a “cultural exception” clause within trade rules. This clause would acknowledge certain cultural goods as traded commodities (p. 42). This cultural exception clause can solve some of the Latin American cultural problems as related to globalization.
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