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Maida - Chapter 12

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The Prospect of Sustainability in the Culture of Capitalism, Global Culture, and Globalization

A Diachronic Perspective

Recent analyses of capitalism have focused on the cultural practices of consumption. While all human beings consume, a central preoccupation of advanced capitalism is consuming. Moreover, consumption has become the cultural telos of capitalism. As Tomlinson (1992: 122) suggests, what has cultural significance are the high levels of consumption in advanced capitalist societies. For these societies introduce a particular set of meanings people attach to their consumption practices and to the significance of such practices for their sense of purpose, happiness, and identity.1 Of course, such practices are not static but change over time. What has often been overlooked in cultural studies of consumerism is the dynamic nature of culture. Consumption is not a universal process; rather, as with other forms of global knowledge conveyed through the culture industries, consumption practices are situated activities. As an encounter between the materiality of cultural commodities and the cultural formation of a consumer, consumption occurs in a particular context, namely a locality. Global forces like mass consumption display their effects in particular locales; therefore, local realities can no longer be thought outside the global sphere of influence.

Similar to consumption, globalization is not simply a process of exporting "sameness," as Storey (2003) suggests. Some critics argue that globalization can be understood, as Pieterse (1995: 45) points out, "as a process of hybridization which gives rise to a global melange," while others regard it as a process of homogenization. The latter view, however, overlooks the countercurrents, namely the impact non-Western societies are making on the West and on one another. Storey (2003) asserts that globalization produces two contradictory effects, sameness and difference; there is a sense that the world is becoming similar as it shrinks under the pressure of time-space compression, but also that it is characterized by an increasing awareness of difference. Globalization has thus made the notion of a neatly bounded sociocultural isolate even more untenable. Therefore, anthropologists cannot focus on a spatial unit merely as a self-contained isolate. Colonial and capitalist interventions are part of the picture, as are earlier migrations and histories. This essay will explore how global culture has come to eclipse local knowledge, especially with respect to resource needs, and has thereby moved localities to embrace more universal consumption practices.

The Prospect of Sustainability in the Culture of Capitalism, Global Culture, and GlobalizationA Diachronic PerspectiveSnježana ČolićRecent analyses of capitalism have focused on the cultural practices of consumption. While all human beings
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