Trying to define cultural globalization is nearly impossible given the ever-changing nature of the term, however; many conflicting theories propose the different futures of cultural globalization. Of the various theories that exist, Arjun Appadurai’s article “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy” suggests a future, “tension between cultural homogenization and cultural heterogenization” exists (p. 295). Samuel Huntington’s article “The Clash of Civilizations?” supposes that the repercussions derived from this “tension” will come to a head, breeding war between Western and non-Western cultures. Articles such as these can help the global community gain a broader perspective of cultural globalization, the different paths that globalization may take and the tools necessary to ensure that a ‘cultural clash’ will not happen.
Appadurai’s article suggests that the main problem of cultural interactions in today’s world is between the idea of purity and the idea of hybridity. Western culture is primarily composed of people from varied backgrounds who incorporate characteristics from their diverse cultural heritage into an ever-changing global culture. While most Western cultures are willing to change and reform their attitudes about their culture, other non-Western cultures hold different values and beliefs regarding the preservation of their culture and therefore, “cannot tolerate threats to its own control over ideas of nationhood and ‘peoplehood’” (Appadurai p. 305). This intolerance creates tension between cultures that embrace globalization and those which oppose it. Appadurai concludes that cultural homogenization is a delicate concept, in which civilians within a particular culture can be manipulated by the nation-state as well as the international stage. By indicating, “too much openness to global flows and the nation-state is threatened by revolt … too little, and the state exits the international stage” (Appadurai p. 307) Appadurai stresses the importance of balance between cultural homogenization and cultural heterogenization.
Samuel Huntington’s article “The Clash of Civilizations?” expands Appadurai’s theory of ‘tension between cultural homogenization and cultural heterogenization’. Huntington’s post Cold-War attitude suggests the world is returning to a civilization dominated world where future conflicts would originate from clashes between 'civilizations'. The world would essentially be divided and the “dominating source of conflict will be cultural" (Huntington p. 22). He divides the world's cultures into seven or eight current civilizations: Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African (Huntington p. 26). The cultural conflict Huntington believes to be most significant to these future civilizations is religion, suggesting that religion is “far more fundamental than differences among political ideologies and political regimes” (Huntington p. 25). Huntington suggests that this ‘clash of civilizations’ will occur on both a micro and macro level because civilizations will fight over control over local properties such “territory and each other” and global properties such as “international institutions and third parties” (Huntington p. 29).
One of the main differences between “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy” and “The Clash of Civilizations?” is that Appadurai’s article merely suggests that tension does exist between cultural homogenization and cultural heterogenization, while Huntington implies that this tension will indefinitely halt international relations and breed war among the future seven or eight civilizations. Huntington makes another bold and daring leap from Appaduai’s theory, suggesting that the tensions that will not rise from conflicting nation-states, but through conflicting religions. Appaduai also doesn’t rule out the possibility of cultural homogenization, while Huntington doesn’t believe that homogenization is possible.
With so many different viewpoints from experts’ of their field, it is hard to declare the future of cultural globalization. It is hard to determine whether cultural globalization will corrupt the sanctity of individual civilizations and create this ‘inevitable clash’ or whether a hybrid global culture will prevail in which individual civilizations can be protected and maintained. In order to preserve the sanctity of humanity, I believe that certain measures of intercultural dialogue are essential to understanding and controlling the future of cultural globalization.