Globalization, cultural DISTANCE, AND cultural CONVERGENCE: some new evidence


Danko Tarabar / March 16, 2019 / IDEAS


The basic question is an intuitive one -- does globalization make countries culturally more proximate or distant? -- and it is not a new one in sociology, anthropology, political science, or economics. In this paper, I make use of some novel data to examine this old question.

…I found that higher economic dimension of globalization (cross-border movements of capital and goods) correlates with increased cultural distances between countries, while social globalization (cross-border movements of people, information, and ideas) correlates with decreased distance. The jury is still out as to theoretical mechanisms at play that explain these patterns in the data. One idea is that economic globalization stimulates further specialization of countries in their prevailing sectors, which entrenches existing cultural typologies. Alternatively, social globalization (movement of people across borders) weakens that entrenchment and leads to cross-fertilization of social norms. 



Cutting-edge research sheds light on a contradiction in our lives we commented on March 23: In a world with no "language barriers", enough border walls to circle the Earth.

In short, Globalization is like an egg-beater.  Economically it tends to separate the human-race; socially it brings them together.  It herds people into National Economies; it makes the entire world accessible. People already identify with their Country but, in a globalized world, this is no longer true of their Corporations.  People tend to include group members and exclude Others but, in a globalized world, you may now have more in common with Strangers than with people “on your own side”.

You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.

Hence, Economic-Nationalism coexists with American-origin transnational companies paying few taxes here.  The income of Blue-collar and now White-collar employees is depressed by competition from other countries, from people you can Skype with after reading this sentence.

Here are two assumptions you can no longer take for granted:

1)      Little to nothing important exists in the space between countries.

2)      Economic competition between countries solves your livelihood problems.


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