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Cultural Change in the Era of Globalization: The Case of Japan. SOCI 5013 Spring 2004 Kentaro Yamazaki. Statement of the Problem. Why am I concerned with this topic?. Statement of the Problem. 97 to 98 % of the Japanese are racially and culturally similar. Statement of the Problem.

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Cultural Change in the Era of Globalization: The Case of Japan

SOCI 5013

Spring 2004

Kentaro Yamazaki

Statement of the Problem

  • Why am I concerned with this topic?

Statement of the Problem

  • 97 to 98 % of the Japanese are racially and culturally similar.

Statement of the Problem

  • A series of the Tokugawa policy of isolation (1600-1867)

  • Japan has never been colonized

Statement of the Problem

  • The gap between the history or traditions of Japan and the new global standard

  • I become concerned with Japanese society as a nation-state which has been going toward globalization since 1980s.

Purpose of the Study

  • Explore the processes of cultural globalization. This consideration will show how globalization is related to cultural change.

  • Examine the emergence of a new subculture in the Japanese society and to analyze the tensions between this new subculture and traditional/dominant culture.

Significance of the Study

  • Contribute to the work on cultural transition in a nation-state in the era of globalization.

  • Learn about the appropriate way in which Japan will turn toward globalization.

Research Questions

How has cultural globalization affected Japanese culture?

How has Japanese culture changed in fast food establishments between 1970s and 1990s (2000s) in the era of globalization?

  • In the 1970s, what were the dominant values and norms have emerged in the Japanese culture?

  • Since the 1990s, the onset of globalization, what new values and norms with respect to fast food establishments have emerged in the Japanese culture?

Research Questions

According to Traphagan and Brown (2002),

  • Introduction of McDonald’s and indigenous fast food restaurants reflects changes in Japanese culture.

Defining Globalization

  • Globalization can be analyzed culturally, economically, politically, and/or institutionally (Ritzer and Goodman, 2004).

  • Cultural Globalization refers to a diffusion of a single culture (Andersen and Taylor, 2002).






(Kumar and Welz, 2003, Smart and Smart, 2003, Van Elteren, 1996)

The Processes of Cultural Globalization

The Processes of Cultural Globalization

  • Homogeneity

    Communication system leads us to ideas being homogenized because we are communicating all the time, which means that we share things.

  • Pluralization

    Material phenomena like food, dress, and music, has a high propensity to spread although non-material phenomena like democracy and value systems will not spread so quickly. In this context, we find local adaptations which incorporate the specificity of culture in particular nations, in particular regions, and the like. Local adaptations in turn would give birth to many permutations and combinations.

  • Traditionalization

    Globalization is seen as assimilation of the minority and weaker groups into the mainstream dominant culture in terms of the imposition of the hegemony of American/Western institutions, such as WTO and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

  • Hybridization

    A process of adaptation in which we try to mutate both modern and traditional aspects because we obtain some of the modern aspects, while we also keep some of the traditional aspects.

  • Deterritorialization

    Globalization generates the greater salience of both sub-national and supra-national arenas for action at the expense of the nation-state.

Defining Culture

  • Culture is a shared perspective.

  • Culture is a group’s perspective it takes toward reality. Each person who takes on the perspective comes to see, think, and control him/herself in line with the group within which he/she exists (Shibutani, 1955).

  • Culture is a generalized other.

  • Generalized others are guides to how we deal with situations (Mead, 1934).

  • Society works because people agree to use a body of rules to direct their own action (Charon, 2004).

  • Culture maintains society.

  • Society continues by moral guide on the basis of consensus of a group (Charon, 2004).

  • Culture is ever-changing.

  • Culture represents the stability of the group (Becker, 1982).

  • Culture is negotiated (Fine, 1987, Manning, 1977).

Research Design

  • Cross-cultural variation methodbased on two dimensions with data source from the World Values Surveys by Inglehart and Baker)

  • Interview for customers in fast food restaurants in Japan based on items from the World Values Surveys

Traditional values emphasize the following:

Survival values emphasize the following:

Inglehart and Baker (2000)

  • God is very important in respondent’s life.

  • It is more important for a child to learn obedience and religious faith than independence and determination.

  • Abortion is never justifiable.

  • Respondent has strong sense of national pride.

  • Respondent favors more respect for authority.

  • Respondent gives priority to economic and physical security over self-expression and quality of life.

  • Respondent describes self as not very happy.

  • Respondent has not signed and would not sign a petition.

  • Homosexuality is never justifiable.

  • You have to be very careful about trusting people.

Studied cultural change and the persistence of traditional values

examined how cultural values and norms were/have been changing in the era of globalization.

Research Design

  • Traditional vs. Secular- Rational Values (is associated with the transition from agrarian society to industrial society.)

  • Survival vs. Self- Expression Values (reflects well-being, poor health, interpersonal trust, tolerance of outgroups, and gender equality.)

  • The World Values Surveys based on data source from 65 different countries representing 75 % of the world’s population

  • Use two dimensions:

  • The traditional/secular-rational values dimension

  • The survival/self-expression dimension

  • Create and examine “Global Cultural Map” which shows the location of 65 societies on the two dimensions

  • Japanese people tend to develop a syndrome of trust, tolerance, subjective well-being, political activism, and self-expression (Inglehart and Baker, 2000).

  • Societies are historically shaped by their cultural heritages although cultural change is path dependent. As a result, cultural globalization leads values and norms to a common direction (Inglehart and Baker, 2000).

Does modernization bring about the convergence of values and the decline of traditional values?

Research Design

  • The global cultural map shows cultural change toward advanced, and explains how modernization has affected persistence of traditional values.


  • This method tends to focus on whether or not economic development is linked with a broad syndrome of distinctive value orientations to a great degree.

  • Small Sampling


  • The result of this research design allows us to hypothesize that cultural globalization leads values and norms to a common direction because societies are historically shaped by their cultural heritages although cultural change is path dependent, which means that values and norms are path dependent (Inglehart and Baker, 2000).