Izations of the World: Americanization, Modernization and Globalization. In But Not Of the World? Globalization and European Integration. Back Matter Pages About this book Introduction Globalization, within academic, political and business circles alike, conjures an ever growing diversity of associations, connotations and attendant mythologies. Luigi Barzini, an immigrant from Italy in , was much more insistent on the inherent modernity in the new America: What interested me in the United States.
Everything was the product of fresh thinking, from the foundations up. The restlessness, mobility, the increasing quest for something better impressed me. Barzini 73 As views such as this filtered through to other civil societies, leading intellectuals came to suspect that they were being provided with a glimpse of a new world. With the benefit of hindsight, we know today that Americanization was only just beginning. This has been interpreted, quite properly, as a key step in US abandonment of political isolationalism.
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This confidence was quite pervasive. As the arsenal and financier of war victory, America was now in a special position to project itself across the spectrum of social relations — political, cultural and economic.
This is high hegemony, the period when the rest of the world is offered a comprehensive societal package. Today, when Americanization is often viewed in narrow cultural terms, it is important to emphasize that the projection of the American Way of Life at mid-century was based upon production processes more than anything else.
It is not surprising, therefore, that although the Marshall Plan began by emphasizing the need to raise gross production, it soon changed to focus upon raising productivity. Institutions were set up to take managers and workers on visits to the USA so that they could learn the new and better ways of production at first hand. All this created a new politics based upon economic growth leading to higher levels of consumption and thus voter contentment Ellwood This 58 Demystifying Globalization Americanization was to privilege class compromise over class conflict in new political reconstructions in all western European states.
Views from twenty countries constitute a veritable homage to the USA and things American. This illustrates the cultural power of capacious Americanization, immanent in the creation of a new modernity as the future for other countries. In many ways, the real test case for the power of capacious Americanization was France under President de Gaulle. As an arch opponent of American hegemony, he promoted security and economic policies to lessen US influence in Europe. It was left to Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber in to produce the massive best-selling book which advocated the opposite to de Izations of the World 59 Gaulle: accommodation to American power rather than insulation from it.
Demystifying Globalization | C. Hay | Palgrave Macmillan
The latter was not as outlandish in the s as it now seems. Nevertheless Europeans will try their best to emulate their superiors ibid. This coincided with a change in the way people began to interpret the new modernity. Raymond Aron 67—8 had earlier wondered whether the new mass culture should be viewed simply as American culture or more generally as the latest development of material society. Aron proved to be remarkably prescient. But Americanization was too embedded in the everyday lives of Europeans to simply disappear with American high hegemony.
Introduction: Demystifying Globalization
The oddity of Americanization is that it is more visible today than during its high point. Whereas a previous generation experienced Americanization at the cinema or on TV, now it can be encountered directly in any high street as numerous burger, chicken or pizza fast food joints. This is a resonant Americanization reverberating into our present. Rather it is the after shock of a process that never reached its ultimate end-state. The outcome of the French engagement with Americanization has been neatly summarized as follows: Contemporary France is a different society because of changes associated with Americanization.
France did change but it remained the same. The history of Americanization confirms the resilience and absorptive capacity of French civilization. Americanization has transformed France — it has made it more like America — without a proportionate loss of identity. France remains France, and the French remain French. Kuisel , , This is a clear example of universal pretensions that were always tendencies with no inevitable outcome.
Izations are never what they seem. As tendencies they will encounter counter-tendencies, particularities that will challenge their operation. Hence the expected outcome will always be a compromise, a synthesis of the universal and the particular. Modernization: High Hegemony Anthony King has recently drawn an interesting distinction between modernization and the other concepts derived from the idea of being modern, namely modernism and modernity.
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The message of modernization was that the modern was open to all. In short, this was a theory of American high hegemony and no more. There is no need to rehearse the well-known debate over modernization of a quarter a century ago, beyond noting that, like Americanization, modernization constituted a comprehensive package of processes — economic, political and cultural Weiner — to transform existing societies which were found to be inherently wanting. To show how the theoretical pretensions of modernization theory were entirely compatible with our general explication of izations, we will very briefly outline one, arguably the best, critique presented by John Taylor On the basis of its evolutionary postulates, a universal historical path towards greater differentiation emerges, which all social systems must necessarily follow.
His book is pivotal in this story because it was both the culmination of early development studies in economics and stimulated subsequent modernization studies in sociology. But Rostow was an economic historian which led him to identify four other stages beyond the traditional.
These consist of two separate processes. By creating a single scale, all countries are provided with the same path out of tradition and into the modern. But the reality was that the drive to maturity was largely restricted to European countries as Americanization. It was about constructing nineteenth-century industrial modernity, a social form superseded by the consumerism of American high hegemony. To the degree that modernization theories were dictated by the necessity to industrialize, Third world countries were being sold an antique model of modernity. Being an ization, nobody seemed to ask the question whether the travails of industrialization could be largely by-passed and the new consumer society instituted through promoting the service sector, a process which we can, perhaps, glimpse in the subsequent success of Singapore.
Of course, theories of modernization and associated ideas on development did not simply succumb to superior intellectual arguments.
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That is to say, it was the failure of the end-state to materialize — a thoroughly modern world of countries moving together towards international economic equality. Crucially, however, this does not mean that the processes modernization theorists were inadequately modelling simply did not take place. On the contrary, they had profound impacts on third world countries and changed their societies irrevocably. This was because, like Americanization in the core of the world economy, modernization beyond the core was fundamentally popular among ordinary people.
Modernization was presented as emulating success, and millions of people were seduced by the promise of a better life. In this case mothers throughout the third world were choosing to spend exorbitant proportions of the family income on powdered milk as an alternative to breast feeding. Although we can have none of the benefits of hindsight we enjoyed in discussing Americanization and modernization, by focusing on the contemporary process as an ization, we can quickly attune ourselves to its interpretative dangers.
But we must be careful not to use -ization parallels uncritically. They are bundles of processes that belong to two different times: modernization was a creature of American high hegemony, globalization is a feature of hegemonic demise. What difference does this make? Social optimism is an integral part of high hegemony.
An important element of Americanization was the transfer of optimism for the future, against all the evidence, across the Atlantic to war-torn Europe. The optimism underlying theories of modernization were an even greater leap in the dark for newly decolonized states. All this changed in the years around with new economic difficulties associated with political and military disasters, with environmental forebodings appearing, and with cultural assumptions slowly becoming more critical and reflexive. This is a new world where the old social optimism could not survive to be replaced by caution, disaffection and indifference.
Globalization itself, however, is not based upon a pessimistic view of the world. But unlike the ideologies underpinning consumption and development, high tech is not for all.
This is, therefore, a discriminating optimism: not everyone is expected to be plugged in to the new globalized world.