Impact Of Globalization On Urbane Culture
Culture has many meanings. As a practical human activity, it is an inherent part of both individual and collective development, from the education of a single child to the finest artistic expression of entire peoples and nations. Culture also refers to the customs of a given society, especially as reflected in its social institutions and practices, including social and political organization and religion. Even in the nineteenth century, cities at the centre of media, financial, and manufacturing networks led the global symbolic economy of the time.
Cultural innovations in those days spread by means of exports of new products and models, and of images published in newspapers and magazines. It took weeks or months for these images to reach distant regions. Today, innovations travel at much greater speed via airplane, satellite and the internet.
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Easier import and export of culture helps ethnic groups living away from their homes to maintain their cultural identity, while exposing those in their home countries to new cultural stimuli.
In earlier years, people moved between the relatively simple spaces of home, work and neighborhood, all of which reinforced bonds based on ethnicity and social class. Networks and institutions of sociability directly shaped local cultures. Today, urban residents commute over great distances to go to work. Through television, film, the internet and popular magazines, rich and poor alike see images of affluence and modernity and compare them with their own lives.
The inability to escape these multiple images and sources of information can be disconcerting and may sometimes lead to local resistance against what is termed “cultural globalization”. Access to more images and information also enriches the cosmopolitan culture of cities. The idea of using culture as a motor of urban economic growth reflects cities’ transition from manufacturing to more flexible, design and knowledge-based production.
Since massive industries like steel and automobiles based on standardized mass production have fallen, one by one, to competition from low-cost locations, attention has focused on cultural industries – flexible industries that value knowledge, information and technology. Most cultural industries are located in cities. A dense population and concentration of skills allow them to draw upon tangible human resources, and a city’s usual history of tolerance and social diversity offers intangible sources of inspiration and experimentation. What is expected of the new global city?
As noted earlier, globalization has introduced new cultures as well as fusion of old and new ones in cities. Already evident in many cities in advanced economies, these new urban cultures are likely to emerge more and more in the developing world. They provide new forms of what we may term “consumption spaces”, including fusion in their design and architecture, partly under the influence of intensified shopping all over the world. A feature of these new spaces is their enclosure, which tends to reinforce social exclusion within cities. They also, increasingly, signal the transition of a city’s status to global.