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Globalized Homogeneous Society And Culture In Nepal Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 3606 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The dictionary of sociology defined the term, ‘homogeneous’ as the same in structure, quality etc.; similar or identical or composed of similar or identical elements or parts; uniform. Theobald (1994) suggested that etymologically, the word “tour” is derived from the Latin ‘tornare’ and the Greek ‘tornos,’ meaning ‘a lathe or circle; the movement around a central point or axis.’ This meaning changed in modern English to represent ‘one’s turn.’ The suffix -ism is defined as ‘an action or process; typical behavior or quality’ whereas the suffix -ist denotes one that performs a given action. When the word tour and the suffixes -ism and -ist are combined, they suggest the action of movement around a circle. One can argue that a circle represents a starting point, which ultimately returns to its beginning. Therefore, like a circle, a tour represents a journey that is a round trip, i.e., the act of leaving and then returning to the original starting point, and therefore, one who takes such a journey can be called a tourist and whole process known as tourism.

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In a simple word, globalization is a process by which product and capital markets, economies and cultures are getting progressively integrated on global scale. There are many ways of globalization around the world and no doubt; tourism is a means of globalization. Tourism is an important transmitter of globalization in Nepal. It has significant impacts on societies and cultures in the destinations. It seems a process of acculturation or westernization or Americanization and leads globalized homogenous society and culture. It has been a major source of intercultural contact. Globalization leads to socio-economic and cultural changes in Nepal. Regarding tourism, the impact is differentiated culturally, socially and economically on globalization. According to Robinson, there has been little evidence that tourism brings the world together. Further, he states, “tourism is one globalization influence that can initiate dramatic and irreversible changes within the cultures of host communities” (Robinson, 1999, p.22). While there is agreement that culture has become increasingly global (Hannerz, 1987; Lechner, 1989; Featherstone, 1990; Robertson 1992), few scholars defend the thesis of a global culture (McLuhan, 1964; Schiller, 1976; Levitt, 1983; Sklair, 1991). Most sociologists (Guillén, 2001) reject the idea that a homogenizing global culture is in the making (Mazlish, 1993; Friedman, 1994; Appadurai, 1996; Geertz, 1998; Held et al., 1999; Inglehart and Baker, 2000). It is clear that a globalization of culture does not necessarily lead to global cultural homogeneity. Micro-phenomenological and conventional cultural models stress the tradition-based resistance of local life to the exogenous pressures of modernization (Meyeret al., 1997). Others point towards diversification in the form of hybridization (Nederveen Pieterse, 1995) or glocalization (Robertson, 1992) of world culture. However, they miss the extent to which, in the contemporary world, the local is itself cosmopolitan (Hannerz, 1987). Again, some scholars strongly argue that globalization leads to a homogenization of culture for example, Giddens (1997:64), who sees it in terms of growing economic and cultural interdependence.

In General, it is very difficult to find out what process is there (in Nepalese culture and society), acculturation or Westernization or homogeneous or globalised homogeneous? Respondents’ opinions were different according to geographic regions, villages and cities. People from cities like Kathmandu, Chitwan, Janakpur and Lumbini have different experiences than Khumbu, Annapurna and Pokhara. A respondent nearby Bouddhanath in Kathmandu said:

“Everything has changed; you will not get any typical local cultures in this area. People are directly connected to tourist and have to fulfill the demand of tourist. Therefore, they has been using foreign languages, fast food and drinks (pointing to the Coca Cola in shop) but now it turned to habits and not easy to leave these things at present.”

“I totally do not believe, tourism is only one factor for this phenomenon, the actors of globalization are more responsible for it. For example, I use English more than Nepali, in one hand tourism is responsible because my profession is related to this field, but, in other, I listen English songs, watch English movies and many more because without English we ( specially Nepali people) will not grab any better opportunities.”

A respondent in Themal Kathmandu

Actually, the Thamel and Lakesied lifestyle has always attracted western travelers, because they have been getting any things like in western societies, like disco hall, music and movies, food, dress, drinks etc. Even local people are happy to use English language than Nepali.

“For us it is normal, to celebrate western festivals like Christmas, New Year, concerts, valentine’s day etc, because we are in touristic area and we must do these things. Again, we are learning some new culture.”

A respondent in Lakeside Pokhara

In the tourist regions and groups most affected by tourism, aspects of a “globalized culture” are evolving and a special reconstruction of Nepalese culture for tourists is performed. Other groups react against this by re-inventing Nepalese traditions. Tourists themselves enjoy a combination of “globalized” and “reconstructed” Nepalese culture, though not willingly and able to understand negative Nepalese reactions and reinvented traditions. This section will describe the impact of tourism based on globalization, on Nepalese society, culture and economy; and how it creates globalised homogeneous society and culture in Nepal.

Based on primary data, socio-cultural structures have changed considerably under the influence of tourism in Nepal. Those changes, both positive and negative, have varied from place to place. Tourism has contributed to social and cultural changes in host societies, including changes in value systems norms, traditional lifestyles, cultures, family relationships, language, models, individual behaviour or community structure in Nepal.

The responses of the hosts in the face of these modifications have been quite diverse and complex, ranging from an active confrontation to a complete acceptance of Western culture. The choice of strategies to cope with changes wrought by tourism depends on the socio-cultural characteristics of the host community and the level of change affected by tourism. It is suggested that earlier homogeneous community characterized by a specific response to tourism becomes varied and groups exhibiting different responses to tourism emerge within the community because of touristic developments.

Tourism makes connection between local to global people. It affects the change in societal norms and values in favor of Western or American norms and values. It is destructing the indigenous culture, system, tradition, social norms, value system, daily life, language, food, drinks, dress and many more through the process of homogenization under state patronages and later creates globalized homogenized society and culture. When local Nepalese, meet with the Western or American norms and values through tourist and globalization have begun to look down upon their own traditional norms and values due to the influences of Western and American norms and values. This situation is not only seen in tourists’ areas but also into remote villages as well. Needless consumer production of Multinational Companies such as disposable diapers, baby and canned foods, blue jeans, two-wheelers and four-wheelers, fast/junk foods, imported liquors, soft beverages, soft drinks ( like Coca-Cola, Beer), electronic products are consumed/used by urban Nepalese.

The very complex impacts of tourism on Nepalese are discovering new types of culture, society, values, norms and traditions, which contains their own traditional and Western or Americans. This looks like new but combination of local traditional and foreign cultures, values, societies, living style, food and drinks, language and many more. Here are some facts found by researcher during his study time; majority of Nepalese in tourists hubs are intending that that individualism is good, but communication is bad, that Christianity is good but Animism, Lamaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism are bad. Similarly, drinking local beer ( Chyang and tongba), Mohi, Lassi (A kind drink made by Yoghurt) and milk are bad but drinking Western Beer, Wine, Whisky Coca-Cola and imported dust milk are good, that riding car is good but walking/ trekking is bad. Similarly, CNN and BBC are the reliable news sources but not National channels are not, English or foreign movies are best but not owns, again best education is available in USA, U.K., Germany, Australia, and Canada but not inside country.

On the basis on data, the researched concluded that, it is interesting that due to impact of tourism by the process of globalization, two things are happening in Nepalese society and culture: a globalized homogeneous are developing and at the same time Nepalese cultures are reconstructing on local levels ( for tourist but also as identity building and national politics). The researcher has analyzed various variables to prove, tourism has created globalized homogeneous society and culture in Nepal.

The researcher has collected data on family structure of local respondents. The traditional family structure of local people was joint family headed by father or mother. After introduction of tourism, people knew that single family is good and easy to manage than extend family. After that, the structure of joint family has been changing in to the nuclear family. The history and literatures says; the nuclear family has started from Europe and America after industrial revolution. Most of the natives especially new generation who are working in tourism are interested to stay in nuclear family instead of joint or extend family. The research has found, tourism is one cause of the cause of single (nuclear) family; because they are busy than others profession and cannot give time for their family members. This types of data proved that Nepalese family structure is not different form European and American.

Gambling, prostitution and drug abuse were not found in the history of Nepalese civilization. Somehow, it was exist unknowingly in high-level family like Rana and Royal, because these are socially prohibited activities and still these are socially prohibited. After introduction of tourism, such activities were found in touristic areas. At the beginning, the Government and local societies ignored those activities due to tourism industry and gradually these activities were increased dramatically. Now it is big problem for Nepalese society. Gambling, prostitution and drug abuse are directly related to tourism in Nepal because tourism is the key factor of those activities. Such activities are more in touristic hubs of Nepal and slowly expanding to the all-major cities. The answer given by tourist from USA in Thamel:

I was surprised when I was walking in Thamel, Kathmandu, I feel I was walking in some street of Las Vegas of USA and walking street in Thailand. Nepal is not so for from sex tourism.

Similarly, in the case of gambling, some countries found to manage gambling for the foreigners in their countries. In this aspect, Los Vegas of America is a famous gambling center in the World. Such types of facilities are mostly found in Hotel in Nepal. But, Nepal government do not have any rules against local people to involve in such activities. Major touristic areas of Nepal like Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan such activities has been increasing especially Young locals. Which prove that tourists places of Nepal is not different from American and European touristic places. This could be an example of globalised homogeneous society and culture created by tourism in Nepal.

The next variable of globalised homogeneous society and culture in Nepal is language. Nepalese society is ethnically varied and multifaceted (complex). In Nepal, there are 61 ethnic cast group and they speak different languages. Languages, cast religion, and dress are different according to geographic regains.

Formally, most of people in different geographical regions communicate each other in their own language. After introduction of tourism in communities, all indigenous people, who have opened hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, travel and trekking agencies are, have to speak foreign languages for their business. Similarly, the local guide and all workers related to tourism should speak English and other foreign language. Therefore, there are huge demand of such persons able to speak English and foreign language. To get better opportunities people started to learn foreign language. Most of the people had started to learn foreign languages with tourists because they did not have language center in their society, for this work, different International and national organization has been helping them.

” I have been working in tourism more than 30 years, I do not have any schooling education in foreign languages, me and my family members can speak English very fluently, not only in business we use English at home also. Even my son can speak German, French and Japanese except English, we learnt it from tourist.”

A father with his family members in Thamel Kathmandu

Furthermore, majority of the indigenous people involved in tourism can understand communication easily with the tourist in different foreign languages. Nowadays the youngsters are gradually adopting to speak English and foreign languages in their daily activities too. These changes in people are because of the involvement in tourism and enable to speak English and other languages in their daily activities. However, nowadays people are happy to use English rather than their own language. Most of the people are using mixed Nepali language: Nepali plus English. The researcher has found most of local people are using broken language; English plus Nepali in the study areas. It is proved that, people are using neither their own language correctly nor foreign. They introduced new types of mixed language for their daily life. Therefore, westernization in language is seen clearly in Nepal. It will be certainly happen that in future large number of the Nepalese will use English language in their daily life. This could be the best example of globalized homogeneous society and culture, because English is spoken all over the World as international language.

Similarly; Food, drinks, dress, marriage and lifestyles are other important variables to discuss on globalized homogenous society and culture in Nepal.

The food of Nepal is as diverse as the country itself, it is easy to cook and good to eat and famous for its nutrition level and tempting taste. Dal Bhat (Pulses and rice), Roti (flat bread), Gundrook- Dheedo (wheat, maize porridge and dried green vegetables) are common food. In addition, milk, Rakshi, Tomba, Mohi, Lassi (A kind drink made by Yoghurt) are common drinks in Nepal. After introduction of tourism, local people were forced to make varieties of foreign food to fulfill tourist’s demand. Gradually, local people’s food items were changing in to foreign food. Nepalese neither changed their local food totally nor accepted foreign food. Some new types of food were introduced, having both qualities form local and foreign food. However, majority of local people were happy to consume modern foreign food and drinks, like Biscuits, Noodles, sweets, Pizza, Pasta, Burger, Cake, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Western Beer, Wine, Whisky and many more food and drinks. Even people prefer to go to the hotels and restaurants rather than at home.

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“Our children are growing their hair out, and the evening, when they leave the Patan, each carries a bottle of Coca-Cola and fast food in their hand. Nowadays, there is a rebellion against family values. I grew up with a different lifestyle than my son. When I talk to him: look my son; he is ‘Badmasi’ (a bad people in Nepalese sense); you have to respect our traditions, culture…, he said; do not worry. But, they never care on it. I am afraid that they are importing some bad values and customs, that’s why I moved away from here.”

A respondent in Patan Durbar square, Lalitpur

Regarding to Nepalese dress, Daura-Suruwal and Topi (Nepali Cap) for men and Sari (Gunyo), Choli for women in general but men use Shirt, Pant, and women use Kurtha-suruwal also. People who have connection with tourist are using different types of western fashion like jeans, metallic clothes, t-shirt of Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, WWE superstar and some junky dresses. Such condition is worst in women; they are happy with modern boutiques, tight jeans and with two pieces of clothes seem undressed, which is not acceptable in Nepalese society, such things are found more in tourist areas.

Similarly, arrange marriage has been considering as the best marriage system in Nepal in the past even today. However, the idea of romantic love has seeped into the mentality of youngsters. This is a result of external influences, among them tourism and movies. They prefer love marriages, where they can choose their own mates. Sometimes their own choosing results in inter-caste and inter-community marriages. Except for one reported case, cross-cultural marriages are rare in Ghandruk, Khumbu, Chitwan, Kathmandu and Jankpur as compared to the Armapuma region and Lumbini, where such marriages are more frequent. Overall, tourists remain a fascination for youngsters, along with their material wealth and ideas about conjugal matters. In other cases, the tourist ends up marrying native people in Khumbu, Annapuran, Kathamndu, Pokhara, and Chitwan etc. The new generation of such couple has both mixed culture; foreign and local, which is one of the key factor to introduce a new type of globalised homogenized society and culture in Nepal.

The influxes of tourists have had major effect on the local communities, particularly on the indigenous people like Sherpas Rai, Gurung, Tamang, Tharu (a Nepalese ethnic group), who live around the trekking routes of Khumbu, Annapurna region and Chitwan. The culture of those indigenous people has been changed as well as the structure of the local economies. Here is a comparative chart between traditional and globalised Nepalese culture before and after tourism.

Before tourism (Traditional)

After tourism (Globalised)

Family structure ( Joint or extend family)

Gambling, prostitution and drug abuse were not found.

Traditional Nepali and other Languages according to Region and cast.

Traditional food and drinks; Dal Bhat, Roti, Gundrook- Dheedoand milk, Rakshi, Tomba, Mohi, Lassietc.

Dress; Daura-Suruwal, Topi, Shirt, pant for men and Sari (Gunyo), Choli and Kurtha-suruwal for women.

Nuclear family

Gambling, prostitution and drug abuse can be found everywhere especially more in tourist places.

Mixed (Nepali and other foreign) languages, and majority of people speak English in their daily life.

Globalised food and drinks; Biscuits, Noodles, Chocolates, Pizza, Pasta, Burger, Cake, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Western Beer, Wine, Whisky and many more.

Dress; western fashion like jeans, metallic clothes, t-shirt of Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, WWE superstar.

Tourism still has impact on local society and culture in Nepal. Participants report that tourism has more contradicted religion and traditions, while some of them expressed the fear of potential impact on younger generations. Such sentiments were centered near Khumbu and Annapurna, where the impact on society and culture are more present than in the other sites. Among the negative impacts reported in study, areas are; the consumption of alcohol, the imitation of tourist behaviour and sexual relations with tourists, increasing foreign food, dress, drug, language, gambling and unwanted lifestyle change.

Yet, as we have already seen, if anything characterizes developments such as those mentions above, it is their particularism. In my opinion, it would be a mistake to read this particular case as an example of global cultural heterogeneity. As representing some more authentic cultural voice, that has its roots somewhere outside global culture. A number of theories of the global condition are eager to point out that the current phase of cultural globalization neither implies that we are merely witnessing a new kind of cultural imperialism not means that world cultural is becoming more homogeneous. If anything, the current phase of globalization is characterized as much by cultural differentiation as it is by homogenizing process. Therefore, I can say by looking answers given by respondents, tourism is an important transmitter of globalization in Nepal, due to tourism two things happened in Nepalese society and culture: a globalized homogeneous culture develops but the same time Nepalese cultures are reconstructed on local levels.


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