"Globalization and Culture" by Prof. Samuel Huntington

Home > Culture > Features

print dictionary print

"Globalization and Culture" by Prof. Samuel Huntington

This is the full text of the lecture on 'Globalization and Culture' delivered by Professor Samuel P. Huntington of Harvard University at the Press Center in downtown Seoul on July 12, 1999.
The lecture hosted by Joongang Ilbo and the Yumin Foundation was arranged for the 13th anniversary of the death of the founder and former chairman of Joongang Ilbo, Hong Jin-ki.
Professor Huntington is the well-known writer whose works include 'The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order' and 'The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century'.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

It is a great privilege for me to deliver the Memorial Lecture honoring the founding chairman and publisher of the JoongAng Ilbo, Dr. Jin-Ki Hong, and I am deeply grateful to the executives of JoongAng Ilbo for inviting me to do so. It is also a great pleasure for me once again to have the opportunity to visit Seoul.
I was last here in 1995, and as is true each time I come here, I am impressed with the changes and progress that have occurred in this country. Especially pleasing to me are the facts that my former colleague at Harvard, Kim Dae-Jung, is now President of your country, that a vigorous democratic politics has taken root here, and that your country with its impressive economic growth this year is leading East Asia on the path of economic recovery.
My topic today, 'Globalization and Culture,' deals with two of the most important phenomena of the contemporary world. In considering these phenomena, the first need is to define what we mean by them. By globalization I refer to the increasing interchange of goods, capital, technology, ideas, and people across international borders and to the efforts to develop global standards procedures, and rules for dealing with common problems.
Globalization is a pervasive process. A global financial market already exists, and a global economy is clearly emerging. Foreign trade and investment are likely to continue to rise at higher raters than increases in the world economic product.
International conglomerates formed by the merger of major firms from different countries are becoming increasingly common. Over time, countries are likely to link or to replace their own currencies with either the dollar or the euro, a process which is now underway on a modest scale.
Apart from economics, efforts to create global standards and to enforce global standards on such issues as the environment, human rights, war crimes, corruption, and drugs, are increasing.
As with the cases of a Spanish court charging General Pinochet with human rights violations and NATO's military intervention in a civil war in Yugoslavia, these developments are likely to further erode traditional conceptions of state sovereignty.
These developments also may have unpleasant consequences. As Secretary General Kofi Annan pointed out last year in a major address on 'The Politics of Globalization,' economic globalization generates counter movements towards nationalism, populism, protectionism, and illiberalism. People often feel that globalization threatens their economic well-being and their cultural survival, and they react accordingly.
By culture I mean the basic beliefs, values, attitudes, orientations, assumptions, religion, and language of a particular group of people. There groups may be small or large. Villages, clans, regions, nations and at the broadest level, civilizations, have distinct cultures. Civilizations are the largest cultural entities with which people identify.
At present, as I argued in my book on 'The Clash of Civilizations,' there are about eight major civilizations or cultural zones in the world. Each of these has within it innumerable subcultures. Cultural factors, similarities, and differences are playing increasingly important roles in today's world.
The twentieth century was the century of ideology, of the competition of socialism, liberalism, authoritarianism, fascism, democracy.
Now, while we do not have the end of history, we have arrived, at least for the moment, at the end of ideology. The 21st century is beginning as the century of culture, with the differences, interactions, and confilicts among cultures taking center stage. This has become manifest, among other ways, in the extent to which scholars, politicians, economic development officials, soldiers, and strategists, are all turning to culture as a central factor in explaining human social, political, and economic behavior. In short, culture counts, and like globalization, it has consequences both good and bad.
In my remarks today, I wish to discuss how globalization and culture interact with each other and what some of the implications of this interacition may be for Korea and East Asia. Throughout history great differences have existed among cultures.
Now, however, some people argue that the forces of globalization are creating a single universal global culture which is weakening and eventually will eliminte the individual cultures of particular societies. When they speak of global culture, they usually have one of three things in mind.
First, global culture may refer to the set of political, economic, and social ideas now widely held among elites throughout the world. This is what I have called the Davos Culture, after the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum that brings together hundreds of government officials, bankers, businessmen, politicians, academics, intellectuals, and journalists from all over the world.
They generally share beliefs in individualism, market economies, and political democracy, which are also common among people in Western civilization. Davos people control virtually all international institutions, many of the world+s governments, and the bulk of the world+s economic and military capabilities.
The Davos Culture hence is tremendously important. Worldwide, however, only a small portion of the world's population share in this culture.
It is far from a universal culture, and the leaders who share in it do not necessarily have a secure grip on power in their own societies. It is nonetheless one immensely significant consequence of the globalization of economic activity that has occurred in recent decades.
A second concept of global culture focuses on the spread of Western consumption patterns and popular culture around the world. Cultural fads have been transmitted from civilization to civilization throughout history.
Innovations in one civilization are regularly taken up by other civilizations. These are, however, usually either techniques lacking in significant cultural consequences or fads that come and go without altering the underlying culture of the recipient civilization. A slightly more sophisticated version of the global popular culture argument focuses not on consumer goods generally but on the media, on Hollywood rather than Coca-Cola.
American control of the global mo

More in Features

[Shifting the Paradigm] With one epidemic under control, another is threatening Korean society

Kakao TV launches this month, takes on Netflix

[TURNING 20] In a sea of hate, change flourishes

Criticism of sex ed books for kids raises more questions than answers

When it comes to sex ed, this Danish author says just talk about it

Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now