Globalization’s Impact on Cultural Identity – Are We Losing Our Sense of Self?

One of the problems with living in North America is the fact that we are living in a multi-cultural society that has always had our little ethnic communities, but for the most part, both Canada and the United States have been a cultural hodgepodge of nationalities and races from all over the globe.

In this sense, the ‘New World’ has always seen its struggles to maintain cultural identities but it has always been assumed that these neighborhoods, these communities of people from a similar background, would keep their own cultures going strong.

A couple of good examples would be the Latino population of Cubans in South Florida and the multi-national Jewish communities in and around NYC. But with the advent of satellite TV and the Internet, the entire world is now part of a global society that is feeling the birth pangs that we felt as a new nation almost 250 years ago. Now the question seems to be if this globalization is creating an environment in which individuals are losing their sense of self because they have no actual culture to cling to.

A Look at the Most Recent Jewish Diaspora

Throughout history there have been a number of times when the Jewish peoples were dispersed to other nations, typically as a result of anti-Semitism. The most recent major ‘diaspora’ began just prior to the onset of WWII when Hitler’s persecution of the Jews caused many to flee Germany. This event continued through the war and even after the allies defeated the Nazis, freeing any remaining prisoners from concentration camps in Europe. A large segment of the Jewish population from that era were exiled to NYC and to this day their families reside in neighborhoods that have always been seen as their communities.

However, as time goes on, it is evident that the whole cultural identity of European Jews is being diluted due to the proximity of other cultural influences and now even more so due to the Internet. It is becoming increasingly difficult for rabbis and parents to pass down Jewish teachings to their children because schools and peers are teaching a different perspective altogether.

Castro and the Cuban Exiles of the 20th Century

The 20th Century also saw a diaspora of another kind right on the heels of the Jewish exodus from Europe during and after WWII, the Cuban exiles beginning with Fidel Castro’s violent rise to power in the 1950s. However, in South Florida where the Cuban community is strong, cultural diversity has remained strong partly because of the language barrier.

Even so, 21st Century Latinos are being more easily assimilated into the larger community and many of the ‘old timers’ see a gradual merging of cultures – that which the United States has managed to develop over the past two-and-a-half centuries with their Cuban heritage they brought along with them over the past 75 years.

With global communications and travel now so readily available, even those tight-knit communities are ‘suffering’ the consequences of globalization. Today’s youth is finding it increasingly difficult to identify with their cultures to form a sense of self due to this intermingling with all peoples from all ethnicities and all walks of life. Sociologists have much work ahead of them in studying the effects of globalization on self-identity but at the moment, it appears to be a major factor in why so many of our young people are having trouble forming a sense of self.


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