Globalization and American Popular Culture: Dynamics of Integration and Fragmentation in the Contemporary Global System
As analysts such as Benjamin Barber, in 'Jihad vs. McWorld' (New York: Ballantine Books, 1995), and James Rosenau, in 'Distant Proximities' (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), among others, have argued, globalization seems to both inspire integration into a global community and to encourage resistance to it. Deriving its theoretical foundation from Rosenau's concept of "fragmegration" (2003: 11), this paper explores a generally-ignored source of the fragmentation-integration dynamic: American popular culture. The paper explores the way(s) in which the values, images and content of American popular culture creates conditions that stimulate support for and resistance to those same values, images and contents in an array of cultural, social, economic and political contexts. In doing so, it offers an analysis of what "popular culture" is, how popular culture is distinguished from the generic concept of "culture", and what it means to say a particular artifact is a manifestation of "American" popular culture. Given the central position of the United States in global economics, politics, and social life (including the production and dissemination of entertainment and other forms of popular culture), a focus on the way(s) American popular culture interacts with the fragmegration dynamic is an important component in understanding the broader processes of globalization.
Keywords: Globalization, Popular Culture, American Popular Culture, Fragmentation, Integration, Fragmegration, Dynamics of Globalization
Dr. Lane Crothers
Professor of Politics and Government, Department of Politics and Government, Illinois State University