Opinions on Cultural Transfers and Homogenization.

Our discussion sparked different opinions on the direction of cultural flows and the nature of cultural homogenization. Réka was of the opinion that cultural flows occurred largely via Western Media that transfers American culture to the rest of the world. Ben argued that cultural flows were multidirectional. I, (Rochi) was of the opinion that cultural flow occurs inevitably from the West to the rest. However Ben, Réka and I were all in agreement that complete cultural homogenization does not occur no matter in which direction the cultural flow take place.

Réka used the examples of Korean punk music to exemplify her argument that Western media has a large influence on cultural transfers.

There are many facets concerning the debate of cultural homogenization; however, it is my belief that Korean “Chosûn” punk is merely a subset of the overarching punk genre, as opposed to a birth of a new category of music. The style is a fusion of Western punk, Indie music as well as popular music, and is popularized in the Club “Drug,” an underground venue where bands such as “Crying Nut,” “Supermarket,” and “The Rock Tigers” regularly play shows. Chosûn Punk serves as an outlet for young individuals who do not find they fit in; drawing from Western influences, such as Nirvana and the Sex Pistols, Korean punk has become a culture of its own, a notion that I agree with. I argue that, while this branch of punk is merely an alternative sound for the Western punk fan, it is a radical breakthrough in the Korean culture. Increasingly gaining popularity throughout South Korea, Korean punk has become a medium through which anger, frustration, and the pressures of being a teenager can be voiced. It is not so much culturally homogenizing the world, as it is a Korean twist to a Western phenomenon. Due to the immense political, economic, and cultural disparity today, between South Korea and the West, it is doubtful that we will amount to complete homogenization of music today. However, it is important to note the ever-changing nature of Korean popular music, one that seems to increasingly conform to Western styles of song.

Ben supported his argument on the multidirectional flow of cultures through a discussion on what we consider to be ‘American Food’.

As far as globalization being homogenizing for cultures, there are two sides to consider. As the cross cultural flow of information, technology, and ideologies increases, different cultures can adapt portions of other cultural practices, and over time could begin to homogenize. For example, American cuisine is a form of homogenized cultural influences. In reality, there are limited examples of true American food because our culinary tendencies draw from so many different countries. Italian, Irish, African, and Asian food has naturally become part of America’s diet because of cross cultural flows and influences that we could technically deem ‘homogenized.’ But on the other hand, I believe it is impossible to completely homogenize culture because of unique cultural differences. Drawing on examples from the Korean Punk Rock film, no matter how hard Koreans try, their style of punk rock will never be identical to America’s version because of unique cultural differences and the desire to remain unique. The influence of punk and punk culture is clearly a result of American influence, but Koreans have recognized that they wish to create their own unique style and resist total homogenization.

While I agree with Réka and Ben that complete cultural homogenization is not possible, I  believe that cultural transfers occur largely from the West to the rest. I do agree with Ben in the sense that there are things such as Hinduism, Yoga and Buddhism that are good examples of cultural transfers from the East to the West. However, these influences stay among a certain socioeconomic class of Western society. Western popular culture however is transfered to all socioeconomic classes (in varying degrees) in a wide variety of countries.  This is largely, as Réka says due to the massive influence of Western mass media and also due to free market capitalism. The world is bombarded daily by Western brands, music, news and innovations. The most popular news stations, record companies, and new technology are either directly transported or marketed from the West to the East. These are them absorbed by a country’s most important, impressionable and influential people, the youth. As a result for instance, Valentine ’s Day and Halloween have become globally celebrated days.  However, you don’t see children in the west celebrating the Lunar New year that is celebrated in many Asian countries or worrying about the latest fashion trend in South Korea.  Thus I believe that cultural transfers occur largely from the West to the rest.


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