Americanization vs. Globalization

Americanization vs. Globalization

Are these words synonymous?
Have you heard the word "Americanization?" In the early 1900's Americanization meant taking new immigrants and turning them into Americans . . . whether they wanted to give up their traditional ways or not.

Critics now say globalization is nothing more than the imposition of American culture on the entire world. In fact, the most visible sign of globalization seems to be the spread of American burgers and cola to nearly every country on earth.

Even globalization champions like Thomas Friedman see it. In a recent column describing why terrorists hate the United States, Friedman wrote:

". . . globalization is in so many ways Americanization: globalization wears Mickey Mouse ears, it drinks Pepsi and Coke, eats Big Macs, does its computing on an IBM laptop with Windows 98. Many societies around the world can't get enough of it, but others see it as a fundamental threat."

Friedman knows, though, that simply dismissing -- or demonizing -- globalization as mere Americanization is misleading. Globalization has the ability to alter much more than just the movies or food consumed by a society. And the results can be powerfully positive, devastatingly negative, or (more often) something in between.

Here are some Web resources which explore the link between globalization and Americanization:

Americanization offers this description of the original usage of the term "Americanization."

Why Those Angry Men Want To Kill America
This Thomas Friedman article originally appeared in the New York Times and is reprinted here by the Houston Chronicle.

Americanization or Cultural Diversity?
An article by Radley Balko featured on "A World Connected."

The World Gets in Touch with Its Inner American
This 1999 article from Mother Jones magazine says, "The pervasiveness of Americanization...doesn't mean the world will end up full of Clint Eastwoods. Many foreigners drawn to U.S. values and practices are nonetheless disturbed that the U.S. often exports its pathologies."

Globalization is Not Americanization
The Taipei Times has this article from Harvard's Joseph Nye.

Contributed by Keith Porter. Reprinted with permission from

To read another Global Envision article about the US and globalization, see Bush's Globalization.


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