Globalization and Culture : From Global Culture to Digital Culture of Virtuality as States of Becoming


Théa Bellou

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The intersections between globalization, culture and digital communication are complex, take many forms, and involve a multiplicity of levels. Debates about culture are at the heart of globalization, hence the importance of the cultural dimensions of globalization cannot be ignored or underestimated. However, given the limited scope of this paper, these issues cannot be dealt adequately here. Within the process of globalization culture has become one of the most problematized categories. Many scholars seethe relationship between contemporary globalization and culture in terms of the emergence of global forms of culture, dealing mainly with the impact of globalization on national and local cultures, and identities. Fears are expressed in many quarters that the impact of globalization on national and regional cultures translates into the domination of the West, resulting in defensive or aggressive responses. At the same time there is a tendency to associate globalization with the creation of new economic and cultural blocks, new global and regional inequalities, the demise, or even the end of the state, and with the emergence of conflicts that range from ethnic to religious wars. Culture is seen as being intricately connected to the emergence of new forms of fundamentalisms and hostility to the West as well as an increase in global connectivity resulting in cultural heterogeneity or homogeneity. Those that question or argue against the homogenizing tendencies of globalization adopt different theoretical perspectives emphasizing the persistence of cultural diversity and the resistance of local cultures to global cultural forms. To these groups are added the postmodern theoretical approaches, which attempt to deal with the questions of culture, identity and socio-cultural change by adopting the discourses of fragmentation, displacement, difference, mélange and hybridity. Regardless of the numerous approaches adopted, there is insufficient debate about the ways contemporary globalization produces, disseminates and transmits a culture of globalization that skews it towards particular forms and outcomes. In this ongoing process the role of the global Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) within contemporary cultural globalization has been underestimated or assimilated to debates that involve older forms of media. It is my contention that digital communication technologies are integrally connected to the processes of cultural globalization. Digital forms of communication and culture, become embedded within global cultural and communication matrices that are transnational and supranational. I argue that the digital communication revolution introduces increased levels of virtuality, which destabilize and delimit the cultural and communication fields. This is not an even process, but one that engenders contradictions, resistance, new forms of activism, subversion of controls, questioning of political and socio-cultural relations, and involves multilevel cultural engagements. I conclude that globalization appropriates cultural symbols in specific ways that construct global significations that promote specific values and cultural dialogues. These global dialogues take place in the global non-space of cyberspace and are integrated within cultural forms of digital virtual connectivity and interactivity. Thus the culture of globalization is embedded within digital, virtual forms of culture and communication that engender delimited, deterritorialized, multilevel, multifaceted, supranational and trans-global cultural dialogues. In order to move beyond the cultural globalization debates, based on the heterogeneity, homogeneity, glocalism and hybridity paradigms, I argue for a concept of global culture as states of becoming. This represents a way of dealing with challenges of the global culture of digital virtuality and connectivity. Becoming is a creative process that has no predetermined premises, course and outcomes. It allows for the intersection of diverse levels of culture, cultural diversity, change, transformations and endurance through time. Moreover, the concept of becoming can incorporate digital, delimited, de-localized, and virtual forms of culture that are trans-national and supranational. These are not sourced within the traditional categories of embodied communication practices and territorial conceptions of culture.


Ⅰ. Debating Globalization, Cultural Globalization and Global Culture
 Ⅱ. Global Cultural Dialogues : From Homogeneity and Heterogeneity to Glocalism and Hybridity
 Ⅲ. Global Cultural Dialogues : From Hybridity and cultural clash to Digital Virtuality
 Ⅳ. Beyond Hybridity : Digital Global Culture as States of Becoming
 Ⅴ. Virtual Dialogues : From Global Culture to Cultures of Digital Virtuality
 Ⅵ. Global Dialogues : Digital Global Cultures of Vituality


  • Théa Bellou Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


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