According to media theorist John Thompson, the cultural imperialism thesis can be summarised as follows: The globalisation of communication has been driven by the pursuit of the commercial interests of large US-based transnational corporations, often acting in collaboration with western political and military interests; and this process has resulted in a new form of dependency in which the traditional cultures are destroyed through the intrusion of Western values (Thompson 1995, pg. 165)
The pace of globalisation is quickly increasing as we grow older and thus the world’s system associated with capitalism, have long been aware that the world has been a congeries of large-scale interactions for many centuries. Alongside the impact of technology; ideologies and cultures from different countries into undeveloped have impacted on their social relations, ideology and culture.¹
Globalisation refers to an international community influenced by the technological development and economic, political and military interests. (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler, 2008, pg. 458). This phenomenon mainly comes from technological advances in communications and mass media, which have had a major impact on global development. The increasing pace of technological advancements have developed rural countries and allowed them to communicate with the rest of the world. This has brought more opportunities, involving foreign investment and trade, to Asian countries. For example in Vietnam, the US is now Vietnam’s largest export market, much more than EU and ASIAN market, with textiles, seafood, and footwear and wood products ranked among the top earners.
Although globalisation brings convenience and comfort to undeveloped countries such as Vietnam, it is also a main reason of the increase of westernisation and, as a result, traditional principles are lost in the midst of the modern world. This westernised/technological culture has affected a segment of young people, as they are at more of a risk of ignoring traditional cultural values. In addition, some traditional cultural values have not been preserved and even traded for profits while spiritual values have deformed or sunk into oblivion.²
One of the most concerning problems caused by globalisation is the dominance of foreign culture on Vietnamese life. “Embedded in the concept of globalization is the notion of the cultural domination of developing nations by more affluent nations. Simply put, people lose theirs traditional values and begin to identify with the culture of dominant nations. They may discard or neglect their native language and dress as they attempt to copy the icons of mass-market entertainment and fashion” (Schaefer, R.T.(2006), Sociology: A Brief Introduction, 6th edition, McGraw Hill).
Vietnam is a clear example of how globalisation has had a negative effect on traditions in their society due to the exploitation of western culture and habits. I was able to picture these negative effects whilst travelling in Ho Chi Ming city in 2014. Below pictures two elderly men who I had the pleasure of speaking too. They both spoke with respect and told me stories of how their everyday life has changed from watching people walk around with mobiles, too seeing advertisements in English.
When walking around the mosque I mentioned that there were very few – if not none – young Vietnamese children. Both men explained to me that “They all left their families to find work in the city and that nobody wants to work in rice farms these days”.
So with this being said, the most important solution is we have to be aware of the difference between two definitions: integrating into this world and dissolving into it. We do learn wonderful things from other culture to make ours more beautiful but not imitate to become their “perfect copy”