The Persistence of Cultural Diversity Despite Cosmopolitanism

Authored by: Pippa Norris , Ronald Inglehart

Routledge Handbook of Cosmopolitanism Studies

Print publication date:  April  2012
Online publication date:  May  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415600811
eBook ISBN: 9780203837139
Adobe ISBN: 9781136868436


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Over the years several scholars have suggested that the world is gradually converging culturally, including the ‘media imperialism’ argument that became fashionable during the 1970s, the ‘Coca-colonization’ claim that was popular during the 1990s, and contemporary approaches advocating ‘cultural protectionism’ (Schiller 1973; McPhail 1983; Ritzer 1993; Barber 1996; Howes 1996; Ritzer and Liska 1997). The convergence thesis rests on the premise that repeated exposure to the ideas and images transmitted by CNN International, MTV, and Hollywood will gradually undermine indigenous values and norms. Consequently, in deeply conservative cultures, many fear that opening the floodgates to the American/Western media will erode faith in religion, respect for marriage and the family, and deference towards traditional sources of authority. Cosmopolitan communications continue to expand worldwide. Even if not yet reaching all peoples and places, channels of mass communications and new information technologies have now become widely accessible to the publics of many middle income emerging economies, such as South Africa, Mexico, and Argentina. Barriers to information have also fallen, following the spread of the third wave of democracy starting in the early 1970s, expanding independent journalism, freedom of expression and rights to information, and the variety of media channels and outlets available to the public. Protectionist barriers to free trade in cultural goods and services have also been lifted, following deregulation and the integration of economies into global markets. As a result of these developments, today the interconnected networks tying together cosmopolitan societies are denser and faster in many countries, and multilateral media conglomerates have far greater potential capacity to reach, and thus alter, cultural values in these nations.

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