Globalization is not easily defined. For some, it is a positive process leading to shared social values worldwide. For others, the term has a negative meaning, and critics see it as marginalizing less-dominant cultures, particularly those in the developing world. Some critics refer to it as the "McDonaldization" of culture because of global advertising campaigns that undermine cultural diversity. Insinuating Western culture on other societies diminishes global economic development and hampers the expression of individual cultural identity.
Large multinational companies promote their products globally, and brands like Coca-Cola, KFC and Nike are prevalent across the world. The negative effect of global marketing is that local companies are edged out of the market and the multinational companies impose American or European consumer trends on other cultures. Similarly, the fast food industry promotes values of production efficiency. As a result, traditional cuisine appears less cost-effective and profitable than fast food, causing traditional food outlets to lose the opportunity to flourish, or even exist.
Another criticism is that Western nations, particularly the United States, impose cultural values on others through media and popular culture. Critics of globalization call this "cultural imperialism" because the West promotes its culture as having more worth, or being more correct, than other regions' cultural values. The domination of news media and Internet services by Western companies helps maintain this influence over local views. Similarly, Western nations are less likely to celebrate other cultural values and this further minimizes the importance of other cultures.
Language is a key expression of cultural diversity. Critics of globalization claim it marginalizes some languages and may even cause some languages to die out. Others say this is a myth. English as become the dominant language, across the world. Certainly, English is widely used as a second or third language, which helps the globalization of business trade; however, if business communities see more benefits in speaking Spanish or Chinese, they learn those instead. Since the world´s dominant economies speak English, other languages have become less important.
Some United Nations members claim that globalization increases poverty particularly among young people, the old, women, indigenous peoples and migrants. An increase in poverty has a widespread cultural impact. A representative from Cuba said one result of globalization was that 20 percent of the world population consumed 80 percent of global production, leaving 80 percent of the population in increased poverty. One way to reduce poverty in these groups is for wealthy nations to accept more imports from developing countries.
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.