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Publisher Description

China's intellectuals have responded to the cultural impact of globalisation in various ways. Some have welcomed it, regarding it as the harbinger of cultural changes that will modernise China and lead to democratic reform. Many more have expressed hostility and alarm, fearing increased individualism and consumerism. China's leaders have nevertheless determined to further expose the country to global forces, confident that the Chinese state is sufficiently robust to counter threats to its sovereignty in the cultural realm. However, the paradoxical tendencies of globalisation--cultural homogenisation and cultural fragmentation--will constitute a significant challenge to the leadership in defining and guarding what it understands 'Chinese' culture to be. According to a number of Western theorists, the cultural effects of globalisation have been considerable. (1) They argue that in developing countries like China, which have over recent decades been increasingly subject to the economic, political and cultural influence of the developed capitalist nations, ways of living and producing have altered profoundly, and with this has come a changed consciousness of the world. (2) No longer do the mental horizons that define the geographical limits of the individual's conscious existence necessarily terminate at the boundaries of the local or national, but they can now extend outwards to potentially encompass the entire globe. There has consequently been a shift to a spatial vision in which one's geographical place in the world is linked to other places, both near and far, via the mediation of the modern technologies of communication. It has now become possible to imagine the world as a whole; this in turn has suggested the possibility of being part of the world, interacting with it, being mobile in it, learning about it and, importantly, copying it. The lifestyle characteristic of advanced Western capitalist societies, premised on individualism, consumerism and affluence, appears close at hand, desirable and seemingly attainable. (3)

March 1
East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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