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The neologism ”glocalization” has emerged in recent years in economic, sociological, and cultural theories in response to the proliferation of writings about globalization and its local implications. It might best be described as the relationship between global and local processes, which are increasingly viewed as two sides to the same coin rather than being diametrically opposed.
Glocalization represents the intersection of political economics and sociocultural concerns, with its emphasis on the local and community impacts of global structures and processes. Ritzer (2004: 73) defines glocalization as ”the integration of the global and the local resulting in unique outcomes in different geographic areas.” Glocalization can thus represent the consequences (both tangible and intangible) of globalization, e.g., the creation of heterogeneous or hybridized cultures, communities, and identities.
Nevertheless, glocalization could also be viewed somewhat negatively. For example, Bauman (1998) suggests that the term glocalization is best thought of as a restratification of society based on the free mobility of some and the place-bound existence of others. Tourist flows, for example, are mainly unidirectional (e.g., west to east, or developed to less developed countries). For this reason, tourism has sometimes been described as a new form of imperialism, which causes acculturation and radical social change rather than hybridization (the inevitable consequence of sustained foreign influence over time). Similarly, global economic and business developments are often deemed ”imperialistic,” even where they have a local orientation.
Ritzer (2004) suggests that this dominance of capitalist nations and organizations might be termed ”grobalization” rather than ”glocalization.” He argues, like Robertson (1994), that the key characteristics of glocalization are sensitivity to differences, the embracing of cosmopolitanism, and respect for the autonomy and creativity of individuals and groups. Overall, therefore, glocalization could be seen as a positive interpretation of the local impacts of globalization, that is, a process by which communities represent and assert their unique cultures globally, often through new media.
- Bauman, (1998) Globalization: The Human Consequences. Polity Press, Cambridge.
- Ritzer, G. (2004) The Globalization ofNothing. Sage, London.
- Robertson, R. (1994) Globalization or glocalization? Journal of International Communication 1: 33-52.