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Abstract

Although the movement of technology, information, ideas and money is not new, it has been influencing human social behaviour at an ever increasing rate by the process of globalization. Power relations in the form of a centre-periphery relationship, cultural homogenization and cultural hybridization are investigated to examine their impact on cultural exchange within the context of globalization. A centre-periphery relationship has arisen since World War II that places the United States of America at the centre and all other nation-states on the periphery. This relationship creates an unequal power dynamic that allows cultural phenomena to diffuse from the centre out to the periphery, thereby reinforcing particular ideas including capitalism and institutional development. A culture is said to be homogenized when it has become standardized around a common set of cultural traits. This process, also referred to as “Americanization”, allows for the manipulation of behaviour, an example being the use of American textbooks in Bahamian schools. The hybridization of cultures results from the incorporation of cultural elements into one’s own culture through some type of exchange. This structure of power supports the unequal exchange that no longer requires close spatiotemporal distance. Mbuti pygmies, for example, have dramatically changed the way they interact with their environment, opting instead for wage labour and the use of modern technology. Recognizing these processes that occur through unequal power relations has implications for marking cultural boundaries, ethnographic study and the destruction of particular elements of culture. Further research should focus on how power relations are benefiting or eroding the quality of life of individuals.

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