There has been a lot of talk about cultural identity (e.g. Englishness in England or
'Leitkultur in Germany) and many people regret that the world is becoming more and more uniform
and homogeneous due to globalisation or through the Internet.
But is this really true?
In her book Watching the English - The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour Kate Fox has her own opinion
on this question:
I was told, we are living in a dumbed-down, homogenized McWorld, in which the rich tapestry of diverse and
distinctive cultures is being obliterated by the all-consuming consumerism of Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald's,
Disney and other multinational capitalist giants.
Really? As a fairly typical Guardian-reading, left-Iiberal product of the anti-Thatcher generation, I have
no natural sympathy for corporate imperialists, but as a professional observer of sociocultural trends, I
am obliged to report that their influence has been exaggerated - or rather, misinterpreted. The principal
effect of globalization, as far as I can tell, has been an increase in nationalism and tribalism, a
proliferation of struggles for independence, devolution and self-determination and a resurgence of
concern about ethnicity and cultural identity in almost all parts of the world, including the so-called
OK, perhaps not an effect - correlation is not causation, as every scientist knows - but at the very
least, one must acknowledge that the association of these movements with the rise of globalization is
a striking coincidence. Just because people everywhere want to wear Nike trainers and drink Coke does
not necessarily rnean that they are any less fiercely concerned about their cultural identity - indeed,
many are prepared to fight and die for their nation, religion, territory, culture or whatever aspect of
'tribal' identity is perceived to be at stake.
The economic influence of American corporate giants may indeed be overwhelming, and even pernicious, but
their cultural impact is perhaps less significant than either they or their enemies would like to believe.
Given our deeply ingrained tribal instincts, and increasing evidence of fragmentation of nations into
smaller and smaller cultural units, it does not make sense to talk of a world of six billion people
becoming a vast monoculture. The spread of globalization is undoubtedly bringing changes to the cultures
it reaches, but these cultures were not static in the first place, and change does not necessarily mean
the abolition of traditional values. Indeed, new global media such as the Internet have been an effective
means of promoting traditional cultures - as well as the global sub-culture of anti-globalization activists.
Within Britain, despite obvious American cultural influences, there is far more evidence of increasing
tribalization than of any reduction in cultural diversity. The fervour, and power, of Scottish and Welsh
nationalists does not seem to be much affected by their taste for American soft drinks, junk food or films.
Ethnic minorities in Britain are if anything increasingly keen to maintain their distinctive cultural
identities, and the English are becoming ever more fretful about their own ultural 'identity crisis'.
In England, regionalism is endemic, and escalating (Cornish 'nationalists' are increasingly vociferous,
and there has been some half-joking speculation that Yorkshire will be the next to demand devolution),
and there is considerable resistance to the idea of being part of Europe, let alone part of any global
From: Watching the English - The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox, Hodder& Stoughton, GB 2004, pp.14-15