Laurie Taylor column

March 18, 2005

"Future generations will look back on the amount of wasted labour involved in the production of unread academic work with astonishment and contempt" - Colin MacCabe in Critical Quarterly


According to a number of writers (Wellspring and Fount 1986, Fondleboys 1993), there is a tendency in globalisation studies to concentrate more upon cultural than economic or political manifestations.

( This becomes more interesting. Honestly .) Until now, this imbalance has largely been regarded as the result of chance rather than as representing any systematic or analysable bias. ( Take that sneer off your face .) However, in this paper I will argue ( just remember I have to produce at least four of these things every year ) that this cultural concentration or "cultural homogenisation" (Forkless and Witherspoon 1993, Pipsqueak and Wilfred 1999) can be largely understood as an implicit attempt to perceive globalisation in positive or defensible terms. ( Now you're smirking. Stop it .) By concentrating upon purely cultural factors in globalisation ( Of course it's repetitive. What do you expect from the British Journal of Analytical Sociology? Poetry? ) it is always possible to find empirical evidence of cultural resistance to the globalising phenomenon under consideration. So, for example, if the instance of cultural globalisation is McDonaldisation, then evidence of the failure of fast-food outlets in particular countries can be claimed as a tacit victory for cultural distinctiveness. ( Stay with it. Only one more paragraph to go .) This paper will therefore examine a number of case studies of cultural globalisation that have produced such optimistic conclusions and show that the grounds for optimism are in each case vitiated ( Anyone still out there? Anyone? ) by an inspection of the complementary political and economic manifestations of globalisation. ( Mummy, are you still there? Don't look like that. Mummy, Jim only doing my job .)

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