Local cultures and global markets

This course is not offered for study in the current academic year.

Course description

“Culture and globalization” has drawn increasing attention from journalists and scholars of different disciplines. Today, even economists are interested in “culture” and its impacts on economic practices.

This course on one hand discusses and analyzes how culture matters in the global diffusion of the market economy, and how the globalizing modern capitalist practices affect local cultures, and on the other hand examines whether economic globalization homogenizes or diversifies cultures at the local and global scales, and evaluates if the processes increase or reduce human freedom and choice.

This course will explore these issues through a perusal of different topics, such as work and labour in multi-national corporations, the McDonaldization of social and cultural sphere of life, local consumption habits and patterns, and the global discourse of media and fashion.

Course learning outcomes

On completing the course, you will be able to:

  • Appraise different cultures outside their own world.
  • Analytically engage in the current debates over culture and globalization within and outside the academic circle.
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of the current globalizing forces and attempt to think of better alternatives for the problematic arenas.

Study load

ActivitiesNumber of Hours
Reading / Self-study40
Preparing materials and questions for discussion12
Assessment: Essay / Report writing30
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation)15
Assessment: Quizzes (incl preparation)16


Group presentation and tutorial participation40%
Group project40%

Required reading

Miller, D (2012) Consumption and Its Consequences. London: Polity Press.

Chan, C. S. (2009). Creating a market in the presence of cultural resistance: The case of life insurance in China. Theory and Society, 38(3), 278-302.

Diawara, M. (1998). Toward a regional imaginary in Africa. In F. Jameson & M. Miyoshi (Eds.), The cultures of globalization (pp. 103-124). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Klein, N. (2000). No logo: Taking aim at the brand bullies. New York: Picador. [Chap. 6]

Mittelman, J. H. (2004). Whither globalization? The vortex of knowledge and ideology. London; New York: Routledge. [pp. 89-98]

Pun, N. (2005). The social body, the art of discipline and resistance. Made in China: Women factory workers in a global workplace (pp. 77-108). Durham, NC: Duke University Press; Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

Ritzer, G. (2006). An introduction to McDonaldization. In G. Ritzer (Ed.), McDonaldization: The reader (2nd ed., pp. 4-24). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

So, A. Y. (1990). Social change and development: Modernization, dependency, and world-systems theories. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. [pp. 17-23, 33-37, 91-93, 104-109, 169-171, 180-199]

Steger, M. B. (2009). Globalization: A very short introduction. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. [pp. 1-16, 71-80]

Miller, D; McDonald, T, et al., (2016) How The World Changed Social Media. London: UCL Press.

Watson, J. L. (1997/2006). Golden arches east: McDonald’s in East Asia. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. [pp. 1-38]

Course co-ordinator and teachers