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The times they are a-changin’

  • Published at 05:58 pm November 5th, 2018
In a community of the world
In a community of the world / BIGSTOCK

It is important to balance globalization with our own cultural identity


Our country is moving towards a complacent space, balancing itself between progress and globalization. An amalgamation of economic structure, infrastructure, social welfare, and individual well-being  -- all of which are heightened when a country heads towards development. 

So does, or should, a nation’s culture. I am no theorist of culture, but just an observer, and recipient, of the norms and traditions that our society stands on, and is built on. Culture embodies language, religion, history, and traditional values, and defines who we are, and shapes our identity.

But over the course of a few years, one’s identity can get twisted, especially during the very process of a country’s development through globalization.

It is with amazement that I observe a four-year-old being aware of the characters of Marvel comics. I also experience shattering disappointment when a 21-year-old speaks in a concoction of hybrid vocabulary. 

Permeating globalization can have its cost. From a cultural point of view, a major issue is the threat of losing one’s identity. Experts say that the cultural identity crisis is a result of the normalization of cultural globalization, and the role of mass media is as its facilitating tool. 

Perhaps Hollywood or Bollywood’s depictions have had a triggering impact on the lifestyle of our own budding generation. Television, and its various forms, continues to be the go-to digital commercial tool, and is more associated with the West to serve and entertain audiences -- but it has gradually, but surely, infiltrated into the emerging economies, and in turn, the glitz and glamour of the Western way of life, initially aimed for their own society, is now being propagated, and absorbed by the impressionable minds of our economies. 

These attractive programs and commercials stimulate a fantasy concept in our younger generation, which of course, is impossible to replicate in regular everyday life. Only the privileged classes of the population can afford to act out such a lifestyle, and a benchmark for the life to aspire to is created. 

Having said that, one must believe that embracing a global culture is not a bad thing. It brings diversity and exposure.

But in order to embrace something new, one must strengthen one’s internal norms and traditions first, and then fit the external cultural orientations. Otherwise, society suffers from an identity crisis and distress, with different cultures tugging and pulling at each other. 

Some societies can adapt quickly to the cultural consequences of Western ideologies and values, and others take their time and approach it more slowly.

One of the foremost reasons for the discrepancy is the economical condition of the people who are equipped with this knowledge. Bringing high street brands such as H&M or Dorothy Perkins may cater to the exclusive upper class here in Bangladesh, unlike the masses it serves in the West. 

It is imperative for a country to be lenient in allowing globalization for integration and interconnection.

Otherwise, total isolation would prevail, and instead of moving forward, we would be stuck in primitivism.

However, a nation and its culture, need to be updated and enhaned according to the needs of the nation, and not randomly copied. 

In our ever-changing world, our cultural identity is a vital component to any nation, especially one looking to climb the socio-economic ladder, and it needs to be addressed, valued, and preserved. 

Mahzabeen Faruque is the owner of AAVARON.