Globalization and cultural mosaic: An Asian perspective

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Monday 19:00 – 21:50

Lecture venue

Course description

This course is designed to understand what globalization is all about in today’s world. Globalization is a buzzword we frequently hear and use, a concept that from the 1990s has become part of our everyday ways of understanding and describing the world. Yet when we look closely at it, we find it is a contested concept with slippery meanings. Among the few agreed-upon meanings of the concept, there is an underlying idea that the world feels today smaller thanks to the technological advancements in transportation and communication, leading to a level of interconnection and exchange flow unseen in the world’s history. Although cultures were never were isolated and homogeneous, multicultural contact is more common today than in the past, as well as a sense of the world as one single place.

The study of globalization cuts across boundaries of the currently established academic fields, benefiting from an interdisciplinary approach. Usually, globalization is seen as a primarily economic force transforming the world, as national borders become increasingly irrelevant before the global flow of money and goods. However, globalization also has a great impact on cultures across the globe, as products like McDonald’s, technologies like Huawei 5G, international tourist flows, and media like TikTok, reach almost everywhere. With and through them, intangible things like ideas, lifestyles, but also ideals and ideologies are flowing almost everywhere. Eventually, this transforms the meaning of the same concept of “culture”, as increasingly we no longer belong to a society based in a certain place only. Rather, as Mathews (2000) has argued, we have access to a global “cultural supermarket” from which, to some extent, we can choose who we are.

Course learning outcomes

  1. Have greater insights into the processes of globalization, a process taking place across the world today and shaping all of our lives of which we ought to know the general background.
  2. Demonstrate a fuller understanding of different aspects of globalization in various domains of life, including those involving recent history, economics, consumption, migration, terrorism, nationalism, heritage, and cultural identity.
  3. Unpack the diverse dimensions, causes, effects of globalization and debate them from a critical point of view.
  4. Use some of the tools provided by this course, engaging with the main concepts and theories to assess globalization as encountered in the everyday.
  5. Comprehend and discuss both the costs and benefits of contemporary processes of globalization to individuals, societies, and the world.
  6. Better appreciate their own culture and self, considering their everyday lives and choices in a globalizing world.


Class Participation20%
After class quizzes40%
Final Ethnographic Project (incl. Group presentation and a Report)40%

Recommended reading

There is no textbook for this course, and all the required and recommended reading materials will be uploaded on Moodle during the semester. However, the following titles will give you a comprehensive review of the debates on globalization:

  • Ritzer, George. 2007. The Blackwell Companion to Globalization. Malden and Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Robbins, Richard H. 2014. Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
  • Lewellen, Ted C. 2002. The Anthropology of Globalization: Cultural Anthropology Enters the 21st Century. Westport.: Bergin & Garvey.
  • Steger, Manfred. 2020. Globalization: A Very Short Introduction (5th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Sassen, Saskia. 1998. Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: New Press.
  • Held, David and Anthony McGew, eds. 2005. The Global Transformations Reader: An introduction to the Globalization Debate (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Polity.
  • Burawoy, Michael, Ed. 2000. Global Ethnography: Forces, Connections, and Imaginations in a Postmodern World. Berkeley: University of California Press. (you can focus on introduction and conclusion).
  • Monbiot, George. 2016. How Did We Get into This Mess? Politics, Equality, Nature. London: Verso.

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Student view

A fun course! Very practical ideas and theories were presented to students, I was happy to be able to think critically about our world and crucial global issues.

-Nora Wong, 1st year MSocSc student in Media Culture & Creative Cities