Two essays on the universal and particular dimensions of culture

Pauw, J. C. (Jacobus Christoff) (2002-03)

The first of the two essays was presented at the conference 'Ethnicity in an Age of Globalisation', held at Uganda Martyrs University, Kampala, Uganda, from 3-6 September 2001.

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Babel or Piraeus? : globalisation, culture and tradition -- Between freedom and culture : Alain Finkielkraut's critique of multiculturalism.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The conception of globalisation as a "programme" or "project" driven by a group of people or companies with a set agenda underlies much of the antagonistic discussion of globalisation. Protagonists of globalisation, in turn, often describe the process as inevitable progress. This paper analyses the process of globalisation and argues that it should not be understood as such a singular process. Rather, the concept "complex connectivity" - where the local and the global come' into closer contact and influence, or interpenetrate, one another more directly - facilitates a more nuanced analysis of globalisation -.This understanding of globalisation will be tested against the phenomenon of culture by posing two questions: Does globalisation lead to the destruction of local culture( s) by an encroaching singular global culture (i.e. is globalisation cultural imperialism)? Or alternatively: Does globalisation represent an opening .up and exchange between previously isolated cultures and societies? This paper argues in favour of the second position by employing John Tomlinson's existential definition of culture and his understanding of the dialectic that exists between the local and the global in complex connectivity. Instead of global culture, we can more properly speak of . "globalized" culture, which looks different in every local situation. This is a more optimistic answer to the cultural' effects of globalisation, and although some concerns remain, it seems clear that to understand globalisation as complex connectivity rules out many of the charges of cultural imperialism lodged against globalisation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Baie van die hedendaagse antagonistiese diskussie oor globalisasie gaan uit van die veronderstelling dat globalisasie 'n 'program' of 'n 'projek' is wat deur 'n groep individue of maatskappye gedryf word. Voorstanders van globalisasie, daarenteen, beskou die proses dikwels as 'onafwendbare vooruitgang.' Hierdie opstel analiseer die proses van globalisasie en argumenteer dat globalisasie nie as so 'n eenduidige process verstaan moet word nie. Die konsep "complex connectivity" word ingespan om 'n meer genuanseerde analise van globalisasie te bied aangesien dit dui op die komplekse interaksie, of selfs interpenetrasie, tussen plaaslike en globale prosesse. Hierdie opvatting oor globalisasie word getoets aan die hand van kultuur deur twee teenstellende vrae te stel: Is globalisasie 'n enkelvoudige globale kultuur wat dreig om plaaslike kulture oor te neem en uiteindelik te vernietig (ook genoem kultuurimperialisme)? Of eerder: Is globalisasie 'n geleentheid tot groter openheid en interaksie tussen kulture en gemeenskappe wat voorheen van mekaar geïsoleer was? Die opstel argumenteer ten gunste van die tweede posisie deur gebruik te maak van John Tomlinson se eksistensiële definisie van kultuur en sy opvatting oor die interaksie tussen die plaaslike en die globale. Instede van globale kultuur kan ons eerder praat van 'geglobaliseerde' kultuur, wat telkens anders lyk in elke plaaslike opset. Hierdie posisie bied 'n versigtige, maar meer optimistiese antwoord op die kulturele impak van globalisasie deurdat veel van die aanklagte van kultuurimperialsime teen globalisasie afgewys word.

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