Topic: Economics of Global Popular Culture after the Cold War
As we have seen throughout the course, economics exert a strong influence on popular culture. Without money or resources to produce some form of public art and/or dialogue, a culture is limited to those who have the means. When foreign popular cultures command the resources necessary for culture to be passed on, cultural distinctiveness is often the cost. The Soviet Union is one such example of that outcome. From the 1950s forward uneven attempts at liberalizing Soviet culture left those in the Eastern bloc thirsty for the luxury goods they saw advertised through Western media content. A lack of trade with the West and a lack of disposable income made those goods inaccessible to most in the Eastern bloc, fueling resentment towards the government. Popular culture, once a government-directed mix of patriotism and faith in all things communist, became increasingly dictated by a mix of public interests and foreign markets. The result was the failure of the Soviet social and political structure seemingly overnight, and with it a new world order quickly rushed in to fill the void.
As Hunt discusses this week, that new world order centered on three economic zones, each exerting a strong influence not just within its sphere of influence but to the far reaches of the globe. Understanding these three economic zones is critical to understanding the realities of globalization since the end of the Cold War. The effects of economic changes after the fall of the Soviet Union have been wide-ranging. As Hunt shows, they sometimes encourage an almost blind faith in the free market. This has led to massive transformation of urban spaces in the Third World. With economics as the driving force behind such rapid changes, resistance was all but inevitable. Those who expected the end of the Cold War to mean a more tranquil world found their hopes quickly dashed. Conflicts from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan and Rwanda showed that, when popular cultures clashed, violence, even genocide, could be the end result.
Be sure to read the following for this discussion:
Hunt, The World Transformed, Part Three Introduction and Chapters 7-8
Given what you read in Hunt this week about the three-tiered economic system born out of the demise of the Cold War, determine what you believe were its most significant effects on peoples and cultures across the globe. As you prepare your initial post of at least 250 words, address the following:
Describe the nature of globalization, as you see it, when the Soviet Union fell. Who were the most powerful entities influencing globalization and how significant were individual countries to its growth as opposed to during the Cold War?
What would you categorize as the most significant limitations of the post-Cold War era on peoples’ freedom to express their values and build truly popular cultures?
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