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The Unifying Aspects of Cultures

SECTION:

Economy and Culture

Chair of the section/Suggestions, Abstracts, Contributions to:
Email: Olga Rösch (Wildau/Germany)

ABSTRACT: The processes of globalization and internationalization run not only all through the structures of the economy, but they also affect many areas of social life. The advancing globalization of the world economy, of international competition and the transfer of technology lead also to a certain leveling of the once culturally oriented employee organizations, mainly in international corporations such as McDonalds. The American entertainment industry likewise exerts worldwide influence on the state of cultural knowledge (for example, the same films and pop music), on consumer habits and models of behavior (for example, talk shows on German television). The channels and possibilities of communication (Internet) and new communication and information technologies suggest a picture of a culturally unified world or conjure up the danger of such a world ("cultural oatmeal").

In this development the role of English appears to have gone far beyond its function as the lingua franca. Even if we begin with the rationally justified view that the processes do not mean an immediate "switch to English," nevertheless the influences from the Anglo-Saxon cultural sphere are perceived at present in many lands of the world - and not least because of the strong presence of the English language - as "Westernization."

One can observe running at the same time a counter tendency, which is expressed in a kind of Renaissance of regional cultures or consciousness of their own culture on the periphery of a shopping center (for example, GUS after the fall of the SU). To be sure, the cultural homogenization and the simultaneous counter action of the minority cultures is a known historical phenomenon. Considered in positive terms, it was always a matter of intercultural exchange and transcultural processes. In any case, we have to thank globalization for the fact that the development of new markets, accompanied by understandable failures, has sharpened the awareness of cultural differences. In consequence of that, a new field of education has even been introduced in the industrial states: "Intercultural Communication."

The perception of the contemporary manifestations of globalization and the attitudes to them extend - in each case according to the individual's consciousness of a cultural community and of its proximity to the Anglo-Saxon cultural sphere - from a positive evaluation as progress via the idea of them as a "necessary evil" up to a strongly negative reaction (violent anti-Americanism or nationalism, respectively).

In the section "Economy and Culture" the following questions will be examined:

THE UNIFYING ASPECTS OF CULTURES