Many argue that globalization is not only transforming how we live, and the institutions which govern us, it is changing who we are. Globalization is destabilizing the traditional cultural systems that forge individual and collective identity and is creating new mechanisms through which individuals find meaning and a sense of belonging in an increasingly complex world. From novel cultural forms to the global spread of McDonald’s, the force of globalization is said to be transforming the means with which we make sense of ourselves and the larger world. The view that globalization is driving a reconstruction of many facets of identity and culture is articulated most directly by those who feel that it is a process of cultural homogenization (e.g. Latouche, 1996). The forces which unify markets and drive political and moral authority away from states are also serving to homogenize culture and identity and draining national and local forms of their meaning and capacity to mobilize popular sentiment. For some, this involves not a new melange or hybrid creation but an overt Americanization of other cultures (see Holton, 1998: 166–72). In the ubiquity of Starbucks, Hollywood movies and the transformation of dietary habits and patterns one sees the forces of a cultural imperialism made more disturbing by the eagerness with which it is embraced. For others, globalization threatens societies by projecting new ideas and practices across borders, destabilizing existing cultural values and institutions.
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