Just last Thursday, I talked about China’s possible emergence as a global power, and following through on the theme of a global village, I shall talk today about globalisation and its lesser-known variant, glocalisation.

Globalisation is the main talk of the town when it comes to world issues. Nearly everything that occurs has some impact on globalisation, from environmental issues to entertainment to terrorism. Most people think of McDonald’s when they think globalisation, and about pop culture, loan words from the English Language. They think of the erosion of local culture, tourism’s unexpectedly negative impact on the preservation of cultural values, youths following the American lifestyle and ditching their own. But is globalisation really happening, or is there a more muted, more colourful version of it going on? It could just be glocalisation.

Glocalisation, if you haven’t already deduced, is globalisation + local. A global take on local practices, but it doesn’t mean that local practices are gone entirely. For example, Japan has seen a fad in “fusion” food with restaurants such as Pasta de Waraku, which basically serves pasta, but cooked in the Japanese style. Even in McDonald’s itself you don’t see American food culture sweeping every semblance of local differences. McDonald’s launches Lunar New Year special burgers, something you do not see in the West. Recipes are also slightly different to suit each country’s palate. We think of the internet as bridging gaps among people all over the world, but what about a project group in university which uses Facebook IM to discuss their project? While we look at the macro scale of globalisation, there is also a micro level that is busy and buzzing under the radar of academicians and scholars. The mass media may be bringing locals together more than foreigners.

I must say I can’t say too much about glocalisation, because globalisation as a concept is confusing in itself and this variant sounds even moreso, and I bet the more I say the more mistakes I will be making. But I suppose the world is indeed not yet at the stage where cultures are lost entirely. Singapore still has its Singaporean culture. Latin America is still vastly different from the United States, even if Latin Americans are sipping Pepsis and wearing Nike shoes. You wouldn’t go to Spain and think you were in Canada.

I believe I have over-simplified this conception of glocalisation. Wikipedia has a long wordy article about how it affects domains such as social welfare and business, and there is much academic research on the topic. I won’t go into too much detail since it is not my area of expertise, and you can find out more on your own, but it is an interesting thought, isn’t it, that even globalisation is not a phenomenon set in stone? What with threats like global warming and an ageing population being challenged, you would think that globalisation is something confirmed to happen. But no, globalisation has its own opponent theory in glocalisation. With all this arguing over specifics going on, I do wonder if anything is going to be solved in the world.


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