Victoria Junior College promo AQ 2003 - Globalisation





Passage A

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Critics of globalisation argue that the process will lead to a stripping away of identity and a blandly uniform, Orwellian world. On a planet of 6 billion people, this is, of course, an impossibility. More importantly, the decline of cultural distinctions may be a measure of the progress of civilisation, a tangible sign of enhanced communications and understanding. Successful multicultural societies discern those aspects of culture that do not threaten union, stability, or prosperity, be they food, holidays, rituals, and music, and allow them to flourish. But they counteract or eradicate the more subversive elements of culture such as exclusionary aspects of religion, language, and political beliefs.

History shows that bridging cultural gaps successfully and serving as a home to diverse peoples requires certain social structures, laws, and institutions that transcend culture. Furthermore, the history of a number of ongoing experiments in multiculturalism suggests that workable, if not perfected, integrative models exist. Each is built on the idea that tolerance is crucial to social well-being, and each at times has been threatened by both intolerance and a heightened emphasis on cultural distinctions. The greater public good warrants eliminating those cultural characteristics that promote conflict or prevent harmony, even as less-divisive, more personally observed cultural distinctions are celebrated and preserved.

The realisation of such integrative models on a global scale is impossible in the near term. It will take centuries. Nor can it be achieved purely through rational decisions geared toward implementing carefully considered policies and programmes. Rather, current trends that fall under the umbrella of “globalisation” are accelerating a process that has taken place throughout history as discrete groups have become more familiar with one another, allied and commingled – ultimately becoming more alike. Inevitably, the United States has taken the lead in this transformation; it is the “indispensable nation” in the management of global affairs and the leading producer of information products and services in these, the early years of the Information Age.

It is in the general interest of the United States to encourage the development of a world in which the fault lines separating nations are bridged by shared interests. And it is in the economic and political interest of the United States to ensure that if the world is moving toward a common language, it be English; that if the world is moving toward common telecommunications, safety and quality standards, they be American; that if the world is becoming linked by television, radio, and music, the programming be American; and that if common values are being developed, they be values with which Americans are comfortable.

These are not simply idle aspirations. English is linking the world. American information technologies and services are at the cutting edge of those that are enabling globalisation. Access to the largest economy in the world – America’s – is the primary carrot leading other nations to open their markets.

Indeed, just as the United States is the world’s remaining military superpower, so is it the world’s sole information superpower. While Japan has become competitive in the manufacture of components integral to information systems, it has had a negligible impact as a manufacturer of software or as a force behind the technological revolution. Europe has failed on both fronts. Consequently, the United States holds a position of advantage at the moment and for the foreseeable future.

Some find the idea that Americans would seek to promote their culture to be unattractive. They are concerned that it implies a sense of superiority on Americans’ part or that it makes an uncomfortable value judgement. But the realpolitik of the Information Age is that setting and redefining technological standards and services, as well as producing the most popular information products, are essential to the well-being of any would-be leader.

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Adapted from David Rothkopf’s “Is the Globalization of American Culture Positive?”

Passage B

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Washington’s crusade for free trade is often seen abroad as a Trojan horse for companies, such as Walt Disney Co. and Cable News Network, that would dominate foreign lifestyles and values. Most Americans react to these fears with a shrug. That would be a big mistake on at least two counts. The entertainment industry, including movies, music, software, and broadcasting, is America’s second-largest exporter after aircraft and has penetrated all global markets. Films such as Lethal Weapon are hits on every continent. Reader’s Digest publishes in 19 languages. Windows computer programs and MTV can be found in remote corners of China. Furthermore, the transmission of our culture goes beyond the arts or the media. When Washington exalts free enterprise, it promotes the notion that individual freedom has a higher value than government authority. When it advocates the rule of law overseas, it pushes a U.S.-style legal system.

From the Roman to the Soviet empires, superpowers have aimed to spread their cultures, and from Lorenzo de Medici to Michael Eisner, there has always been a link between commerce and culture. Still, while America’s lifestyle and ideas can be liberating and uplifting, they are also often destabilising abroad. Movies and music frequently glorify violence and rebellion. Darwinian capitalism requires societies to uproot traditional structures without adequate regulation, safety nets, or education. The U.S legal system encourages confrontation, not conciliation.

Americans should not have difficulty empathising with foreign fears of cultural invasion. Recall U.S. anxieties a decade ago when Sony Corp. bought Columbia Pictures and Mitsubishi Corp. purchased New York’s Rockefeller Centre. Now reaction against American “cultural imperialism” is building. Just a few years ago, France almost derailed the Uruguay Round of global trade negotiations because it wanted to limit the activities of U.S. entertainment companies. U.N. sponsored conferences on preserving national cultures are proliferating. In contrast to the American preference for financial liberalisation, capital controls are becoming respectable in Asia.

The U.S. should do more than heed these warnings; it should recognise that strong cultures abroad are in America’s self-interest. Amid the disorientation that comes with globalisation, countries need cohesive national communities grounded in history and tradition. Only with these in place can they unite in the tough decisions necessary to building modern societies. If societies feel under assault, insecurities will be magnified, leading to policy paralysis, strident nationalism, and anti-Americanism.

With satellites and the Internet, the spread of American culture cannot be stopped – nor should it. But Corporate America and Washington could lessen U.S. dominance by encouraging cultural diversity around the globe. Companies such as Time Warner Inc. and PepsiCo Inc. could fund native entrepreneurs wishing to create local cultural industries. They could showcase regional film and theatrical productions and finance university research in the region’s history, art and literature.

At a time when so many nations that have recently embraced capitalism are in deep recession, the Treasury and State Departments could lower the volume on their rhetoric about the magic of the free marketplace. And when so much of U.S. society is fed up with inordinate litigation, officials could be more modest about the glories of America’s legal system.

Protecting national cultures could soon become a defensive rallying point for societies buffeted by globalisation and undergoing tumultuous change. Being more sensitive to foreign concerns would ease the prospect of backlash and even bolster America’s ability to export its ideas for the long haul. The U.S. should at least try.

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Adapted from Jeffrey E. Garten’s ‘“Cultural Imperialism” is No Joke’



13. Both writers discuss the impact of Americanisation on other societies. Explain which view more accurately reflects the effects of American culture on your country. Draw appropriate information from the texts. However, you should rely largely on your own relevant ideas to justify your answers.

Points from Passage A

Discussion points

Para 1: “Successful multicultural societies discern those aspects of culture that do not threaten union, stability or prosperity… and allow them to flourish.”

Are these allowed to flourish or are they affected by Americanisation in your country?

Para 4 & 5: “English is linking the world.”

American influence is present here in Singapore. Spelling, accent, vocabulary (e.g. pronunciation of “either”, spelling “color”)

Para 6: Software use

Dominance of American software companies here. Microsoft Windows operating systems, Office Suite etc. Ease of sharing information. Monopolies?

Points from Passage B

Discussion points

Para 1: American companies: News, entertainment, software etc.

Presence is widely felt in many aspects of life. MTV Asia puts an Asian face on the programming in the form of a VJ, but play content of mostly American origin, even though some Asian music videos are played. Many VJs have American accents and are of mixed ethnic backgrounds.

Para 1: “Individual freedom has a higher value than government authority.”

Goes against government ideology based on Confucianism: Society before self… (Tradition vs. innovation and change) “Steeped in tradition, respect, history, identity” vs. “evolution in the face of the change”

Para 1: Writer’s evaluation of “U.S.-style legal system”: (Para 2)“encourages confrontation, not conciliation”. Para 6: “Inordinate litigation”.

Prominent case of bickering neighbours in Everitt Road, Joo Chiat, but situation is nowhere near that in America.

Para 2: Longstanding relation between commerce and Culture.

US-Singapore trade relations of extreme importance.

Para 2: Movies and music.

US culture as a destabilising force

Bulk of such material imported from the US.

Local government works to counteract this by NE “Education”, campaigns. Effective?

Media regulation exists but relaxed recently. Second cable network license offered but no takers yet. CRC committee gave recommendations for more liberal censorship and classification guidelines.

Para 3: Fears of cultural invasion

Presence of multinational companies very much welcome, not perceived negatively. American companies such as Hewlett Packard are major employers in Singapore.

Para 3: Capital control frowned upon by Americans.

Mahathir’s decision to use this in the face of the economic crisis. Not implemented in Singapore.

Para 4: “Countries need cohesive national communities grounded in history and tradition.” felt.

See local government point for Para 2. Fortunately, we do not feel “under assault”. Therefore the consequences mentioned (“policy paralysis, strident nationalism, and anti-Americanism”) are not commonly

Para 5: “They could showcase regional film and theatrical productions….”

One TV network in Singapore (Asia) actually takes up the recommendation by the writer. Discovery Channel (American): Young Asian Filmmakers’ Showcase.

Example:

Rothkopf argues that globalisation cannot possibly cause the world to become homogeneous, due to the great number of people. Singapore can be considered a successful multicultural society that Rothkopf describes, selecting for those parts of culture that do not endanger unity, stability or prosperity and allowing them to thrive. Examples of these that Rothkopf provides are food, holiday, rituals, and music.

Indeed, the people of Singapore do retain the more benign of our cultural characteristics. Religious taboos aside, Singaporeans of various ethnic groups enjoy the food of other ethnic groups. Public holidays are also designated, with roughly equal emphasis on each of the four major ethnic groups here in Singapore. These holidays allow us to engage in our traditional rituals, and many of us still do, although participation may have waned very slightly over the years. While this may be taken as the erosion of our traditional practices by globalisation, or more specifically Americanisation, I believe it simply reflects the acceleration of our pace of life due to modernisation.

While the use of English in Singapore is due to historical reasons and is fundamentally of British origins, the usage of English (as mentioned by Rothkopf) here shows some influence from American English. Spelling, vocabulary (slang/colloquialisms), and even accents of the American variety have been cropping up in many areas here. One’s reaction to such a trend would very much depend on one’s attitude towards Americanisation in general, if one considers that language in itself is conventional and does not carry any intrinsic values. Yet, for some, language is a repository of culture and identity. These people may resent the pervading dominance of the English language. In Singapore, English not only serves as an economic instrument and the main medium of instruction, but also often acts as the lingua franca between members of different ethnic group. At the same time, however, our government’s bilingual policy in schools means that every child is expected to learn both English and the language associated with their ethnic group.

Mark

Strand

Descriptor

6-7

Requirement (R)

Systematic reference to the arguments for and against an ageing population.

Evidence of a balanced treatment of the effects and their significance to the student’s own country.

Evaluation (Ev)

Comparative assessment of both writers’ views of the effects of Americanisation to own country.

Sensible, well supported and developed to its logical conclusion.

Explanation (Ex)

Explanation of effects and significance to own country includes elaboration, apt illustration and reference to personal insight and interpretation.

Coherence (C)

Shows high degree of coherence and organisation (paragraphing, appropriate linkers, clarity of communication).

3-5

Requirement (R)

Both writers discuss the impact of Americanisation on other societies. Explain which view more accurately reflects the effects of American culture on your country. Draw appropriate information from the texts. However, you should rely largely on your own relevant ideas to justify your answers.

For lower end of this range

(R) Not balanced in treatment of ideas.

(Ev) Not always convincing and tends to be superficial with limited development of ideas.

(Ex) Not fully appreciating the effects on the country – overall understanding not as thorough as in the top band.

(C) Organisation is not as sharp or systematic as the top band.

1-2

Requirement (R)

Does not address the given requirements of the question. For instance, discussion of effects of Americanisation on own country without overall assessment of relative significance of the two writers’ perspectives.

High incidence of misinterpretation.

Evaluation (Ev)

Tends to be a mere summary or restatement of the text and evidence rather than identifying certain effects of Americanisation and their significance.

Explanation (Ex)

Explanation shows limited relevance and development of ideas.

Coherence (C)

Inconsistency in the argument is evident. Coherence is in question.

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