Monday, November 25, 2013

Globalization, Glocalization, Grobalization

          As the force of globalization increases, many different views and perspectives have been created in the attempt to understand how and to what extent this force has on local individual cultures.

      One of the theories used to interpret the effects of globalization on the local cultures is “glocalization”, which is the interaction of the global and the local, the dynamics of cultural homogenization and heterogenization, and the co-optation of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies. Glocalization is also synonymous with relocalization, that is, the incorporation of local elements into global products and/or services.

        One particularly powerful example of glocalization can be seen with the massive McDonalds Corporation. McDonalds keeps to its basics across the world, the iconic image of the golden arches and the service of easily accessible and cheap food. However, through glocalization, McDonalds is able to specialize their menus to serve the local tastes of the many different cultures across the world. In New Zealand McDonalds has what they call kiwiburgers, in Egypt they serve McFalafels, and in India the menu features vegetarian and non-beef options.

      The expression “Cathedral of Consumption”, coined by George Ritzer, which refers to an unprecedented magnitude of success by a major corporation that gives rise to a consumer religion and display of abundant success. McDonalds, Apple, Disney, and Coca-Cola are all examples of corporations who have reached the “Cathedral of Consumption”. A common trait for “Cathedral of Consumption” corporations is to lead consumers to believe that it is their choice to over-consume.

      Wal-Mart is a perfect example of a “Cathedral for Consumption” that is found everywhere throughout the world. Here a consumer can purchase a gallon size jar of Vlasic pickles, twelve pounds worth of pickles, for only $2.97. This is a display of abundance and excess that drives consumers. Eventually, Wal-Mart’s “Cathedral for Consumption” made way for another idea, Wal-Martization. Wal-Martization refers to the modern dominant model of the rationalization of consumer living patterns, representing the philosophy of “faster, better, cheaper”.

       Wal-Mart found that, in order to be successful in China, it had to go through the extensive process of glocalization. In order to do so, Wal-Mart had to focus on adapting to Chinese consumer culture habits and marketing environment while being thoughtful towards the differences between Chinese and American culture. For example, the Chinese mostly go to the store to so Wal-Mart supercenters in China have allocated more floor space to food. 

         Another example of the need for Wal-Mart to conform to the Chinese market can be seen in their dealing with their employees. It is a common feature in the Chinese workforce for companies to acquiesce to trade unions, however, over the period of eight years, Wal-Mart managed to avoid pressures put upon them to enter into a contract. Eventually, Wal-Mart agreed after being pressured by the Chinese government and of all the countries in which Wal-Mart has stores China is the only one where employees are members of trade unions.


       Another term coined by Ritzer called grobalization is used to represent “the imperialistic ambitions of nations, corporations, organizations, and their need to impose themselves on geographic areas. Where glocalization discusses the interaction between the global and local communities grobalization emphasizes a tension between the two. Essentially, today, it is difficult to find anything that is purely local, as Ritzer puts it, we are witnessing the "death of the local".

          One of the major examples of grobalization involves the history of the Israeli basketball team. When basketball first became popular in the region the athletes were dominantly Israeli born. As the sport gained further popularity Jewish Americans were soon allowed to play on the national team with support from the Israeli Law of Return, which grants immediate citizenship to any Jew migrating to Israel.

           In 1980 the executive committee of the Israeli Basketball Association decided that, for the first time, non-Israeli players would be allowed to play on the team. This escalated to the point where now as many non-Israeli players are allowed on a team so long as two of the five players on the court are Israeli, many of which now are American-born naturalized Israelis.

          The increasing American presence in basketball in Israel is a mirror to American influence on Israeli culture as a whole. English terminology is not only dominant in the basketball culture but can be found within the everyday life of most Israelis such as on television, books, movies, business, product names, and popular idioms.

          This Americanization of Israeli culture has caused tensions within the local culture. For example, some Israeli born basketball players feel that their position on the team was taken away from them and that their opportunities have been blocked due to the increased influx of American players. There has also been evidence in Israeli media that shows favor from the local communities for Israeli-born athletes. This could also be a result of the local community's need to protect its national, religious, and even racial identity as a result of grobalization.