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Essay/Term paper: Nationalism in the global village

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Science Research Papers

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With the dawning of the information age there has been a shrinking of relative distances between people and places all over the world. With an increase in international communication comes an increase in cultural sharing. Cultures all over the planet reflect influences of neighboring cultures and other international trading partners. As these and many other factors work towards creating a global village many people are baffled by the increase in nationalism. Nationalism is a highly emotional phenomenon and as such is very unpredictable. Nationalism is far beyond its peak and the current rise is likely only an indicator of the transitional stage of globalization.


Today it is common to here the term "global village" used in every day conversation. It is also common to here someone say, "What the hell is the global village?" The global village is the idea that the world and its people form an interconnected social whole, a village of common interests and concerns, linked by global communication, media, and rapid international transportation.
The global village has emerged via the birth of the information age. Technological advances have continually stretched the bounds of our communication abilities and by using improving cellular phone technology or the Internet any individual can interact with another individual from a completely different culture. Since it is so easy and affordable to engage in these cross-cultural experiences, more and more people have been doing so. Cross-cultural exchanges often rise from or result in common interests or concerns developing. For example, international companies have a vested interest in the economies of the various countries in which they conduct business. The stronger the economies the better business will be. This is the sort of common interest and concern that the global village encompasses.
All cultures are continually evolving and the information age has increased the ability of one culture to influence another culture. As all cultures begin to adopt features of other cultures the population of the planet begins to develop a homogenous culture. Recognition of this global culture is what led to the belief that a global village exists.
Global media, while a strong influence of global culture, is not the only way a global culture is nurtured. Migration is a big influence on the adoption of global culture. With the increased ease of travel, migration has also increased. As people travel and migrate they are not only exposed to new cultures but also expose other cultures to their own ways. For example, a man from Italy may move to North America. While there he will grow accustomed to eating new foods such as hot dogs and hamburgers. He will also introduce a new way to enjoy these foods to the natives via his extensive use of spices. This sharing of culture is not to stop here. As the man corresponds with relatives in his homeland he will share stories of the strange new culture of which he has become a part. These stories lead his relatives to dream new dreams of new lands, customs, and products. The creation and spread of global culture is complex, timely, and far-reaching.
The evolution of this ethnic melting pot or global village installs fear in some and jubilation in others. While some people continue to doubt the existence and access to the global village it is a reality for others. Academics, activists, and business use the global village to promote global concerns.
Transnational social movements, movements where participants seek to influence the policies and actions of nations and international organizations, have been growing. Organizations such as Greenpeace or Amnesty International are strong catalysts of the global community. They operate on three different levels, individual, national, and international. By tying individual concerns into national and international concerns these organizations are able to address issues on a level that is not hindered by any language, ethnic, or national barriers. Most individuals value a good, safe life for themselves and their children. Transnational social movement organizations (TSMO's) link this individual value to the health of the planet by connecting current polluting behaviors to the future failure of the earth's biosphere. TSMO's know that humans want to leave their children the best possible planet. In this way TSMO's encourage the population of the planet to value the health of the planet. This is a common interest found within the global village.
The global village does not exist simply because of chance. There are distinct advantages to participating in a global village. Many countries and transnational corporations (TNC's) have realized this. In recent history there has been an increase in countries that have changed from a socialist/communist economy to a free market economy. Global media delivered visions of consumerism. People have been raised to want everything and to believe they can have everything if they work hard enough. People have chosen to shed the shackles of the socialist systems and take their best shot at the free market economy. The fall of the Soviet Empire is a great example of the beginning of a new market economy. What this means on a global level is that there is a greater market available for TNC's to provide their product to. It is also easier for TSMO's to reach the members of these new market economies. Within a free market economy there are less restrictions on communication. This is beneficial to the creation and spread of global culture.
The global village is a stage that has great potential but faces great change. Change instills fear in many people. Those people who are afraid of change and anything that is different from the norm tends to find comfort in nationalism. They feel safe and secure when amongst familiar surroundings.
The global village has also been criticized for not being truly global. The modes of communication and travel that serve to create a common language for the global village are not accessible by everyone. The Internet, cellular phones, and international travel are not options for the poor people of the developing nations. A gap is forming between those who can access the global village and those who cannot. The TNC's from developed nations are entering developing economies and exploiting their resources to make a profit. The people of these nations are not realizing the full potential of their assets. What results is a struggle for control over the resources. This struggle is reflected in the developing nation shouts of nationalism. They do not want to be taken advantage of any longer and will band together to keep the global village away from their assets.
Another fear that has been associated with the global village is the fear of losing diversity. In order for the global village to exist a common language must be present. The global media is often considered to either be this language or at least develop this language. Since American companies dominate the global media there is a large American influence on the global language and on any cultures exposed to the global village. This Americanization destroys the diversity of the cultures it attacks. Many nations take pride in their national quirks, eh! This is just another reason for nations to fear the effects of the global village.
The global village is very new. It possesses great potential for economic prosperity by way of the strong partnerships and cooperation that exist. Working together the people of this planet will have no restrictions. It is only the fear of some that hinders the growth of the global village. Access to the technologies, like the Internet, that spread the global village may be limited but these are not the only ways to experience the global culture. Migration will continue to support the forming of the global village weather or not the citizens of that global village have access to the technologies that are so difficult to separate from it.


In order to understand the role that nationalism plays in today's global village it is important to define nationalism and the terms used in conjunction with it. Nationalism has been difficult to define. Two different forms of nationalism have been identified. One being civic nationalism and the other being ethnic nationalism. In general, nationalism is a combination of nationality and patriotism. This makes it important to understand both nationality and patriotism. It is also important when contrasting nationalism to the global village to note the strong emotional level present in nationalism.
There are two commonly accepted extremes in nationalism. Civic nationalism is when a nation is a voluntary association of individuals. In other words, a state is formed to bind a nation together. Canada or the United States of America are both good examples of nations that chose to create a state to bind them together. The other form of nationalism is ethnic nationalism. Ethnic nationalism is when a nation is determined by objective features of it's social life (language, culture, and tradition), the nation precedes the state, you cannot choose to be a part of the nation but are raised in it. The Indian nations of North America personify ethnic nationalism.
Both definitions of nationalism do describe certain instances of nationalism. The reason for two different definitions is that there are different sources of nationalistic pride. Nationalism grew in some nations when they came together to fight colonization. Several nations in Africa were created to oppose the colonization of their land by British and German imperialists. This was an example of ethnic nationalism. These people shared a common culture and did not want lose it by way of assimilation into an imperial empire. We see this sort of reaction today towards globalization and the global village. Many nations are afraid of being assimilated by the overwhelming global culture and are expressing nationalistic cries to keep this from happening.
In contrast to nationalism resulting from trying to prevent colonization, there were those countries that united to form empires. The strength of these empires was an immense benefit for all its members. There was a strong sense of pride felt for the empire hence the presence of nationalism. The United Kingdom formed in this way. This sort of Nationalism seems to be applicable at a global level. Many nations are choosing to be a part of the global village because they can see the vast economic, educational, and cultural opportunities that are present.
These two extremes of nationalism can be combined to provide an all-encompassing definition. Nationalism is a condition of mind among members of a nationality in which loyalty to the ideal, or to the fact of one's national state, is superior to all other loyalties and of which pride in ones nationality and belief in its intrinsic excellence are integral parts. This definition does a good job of emphasizing the presence of ethnocentricity and racism in nationalism.
The previous definition refers to pride in nationality. Nationality consists of three distinguishing marks: language, historic tradition, and perception of being a distinct cultural society. A nationality must have a shared language. Language is a tool for passing along culture and history. Without language a nationality would not exist. The same can be said for historic traditions. Traditions are developed over years and years of developing to ones environment. Traditions serve to define who a nationality is, what their relationship with the environment is, and how they will handle change in the future. The most important of the distinguishing marks is the perception of being a distinct cultural society. A nationality may not be a distinct cultural society but as long as they believe they are then they will begin to grow and develop into a distinct society. This is evident in the French Canadian culture. The longer everyone in Canada thinks of the French as being different from the rest of Canada the more likely they are to evolve that way.
Nationalism is the combination of nationality and patriotism. Nationality has been around for a long, long time and so has patriotism. Since the beginning of time human loyalties and patriotism have been directed to many different things. One of the first objects of patriotism was an individual home. This may have been land used for subsistence purposes or it may have extended to neighbors or even hometowns or tribes. Whatever the case, all people associated themselves with a certain place or certain people. This being a fact of human nature serves as basis for nationalism. At first patriotism and loyalty were displayed on a small scale. However, as individual knowledge of the world grew and relative distances around the world were reduced patriotism was applied on larger scales to nationality.
Nationalism grows out of fear of what is different. Other nationalities are different so they must be inferior. Racism and prejudice are the underlying themes of nationalism. On top of these racist judgements a heap of emotion is added. With this as the situation nationalism often leads to bitter disputes between nations. In the past academics had a difficult time studying the efficiency of nationalism in international politics. To condemn nationalism would have meant fear of condemnation. Eventually, the nations began to realize that to achieve optimal economic performance and ultimately the highest standard of living for themselves it was necessary to look beyond the narrow nationalistic views and work together in international partnerships.


At the beginning of the 20th century it was noted that "hardly a cloud appears nowadays on the horizon of domestic politics, social action, and internationals affairs, which is without a lining of nationalism." Today the same quote could be used to speak of globalization and the global village. It appears that because of the better communication, travel, and global media the global village is continually growing. As this new culture grows and evolves the members of that culture will begin to apply their patriotism not to nationalism but rather to globalize. What little rise that there is in nationalism is only a last ditch effort to gain a greater place within the new order or a resistance to change. Resistance to change is always overcome by better education. The positive effects of moving forward by embracing a global culture far outweigh the negative effects. Nationalism will be limited to the history books and globalism will reign strong.


Hayes, Carlton J.H. Essays on Nationalism. New York: Russel and Russel, 1954.

Couture, Jocelyne, Kai Nelson and Michael Seymour. Rethinking Nationalism. Calgary: U. of Calgary Press, 1998.

Levinson, David and Karen Christensen. The Global Village Companion: An A-Z Guide to Understanding Current World Affairs. Santa Barbara: ABC - CLIU, 1994.

de Blij, H.J., and Alexander B. Murphy. Human Geography: Culture, Society, and Space. 6th ed. New York: Wiley, 1998.

Dickerson, Mark O. and Thomas Flanagan. An Introduction to Government and Politics: A Conceptual Approach. 5th ed. Scarborough: Nelson, 1998.

Hooson, David. Geography and National Identity. Oxford and Cambridge: Blackwell, 1994.

Malamud, Carl. A World's Fair for the Global Village. Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 1997.

Rollin, Roger. The Americanization of the Global Village: Essays in Comparative Popular Culture. Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1989.

Sathyamurthy, T.V. Nationalism in the Contemporary World. Totowa: Allanheld, Osmun and Co., 1983.

Taylor, Peter J. Political Geography. 2nd ed. New York: Wiley, 1989.


APRIL 8, 1999

Geography 215

For: Dr. Williams

By: Jeremy Karwandy
# 944 944


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