I never felt satisfied by our discussion in class concerning Steger's question in Chapter 5 of Globalization: "Does globalization make people around the world more alike or more different?" So I bring it up here.
I understand where Steger was coming from. Yes, McDonald's keeps appearing in random places (holy crap, CHINA!) and Hollywood is a major player in the homogenization of culture. Trends in fashion span the globe; music is echoed from one studio to another and there's probably some other poor guy that can't get MIA's "Paper Planes" out of his head halfway across the world. For my own experience, I see more Filipinos doing more American things (ahem...basketball? We are not supposed to be able to do that sort of thing...) and more Americans doing Filipino things (our cuisine is quite delicious, if you give it a chance). Our cultures seem to be merging, and while America is definitely dominating the world cultural market, there is a definitive middle ground.
However, that merging of cultures is also what breeds the separation of individuals. Really, when was the last time you met an MMA-fighting cannibalistic Filipino familiar with American contemporary, hip-hop, and swing dance? Similarly, it's always a pleasure to find an American that understands Tagalog or practices Kali/Eskrima/Anis or that I can share some balut with (and that last one is really rare). While the merging of cultures does seem to bring a measure of homogeneity to society, it is the combination of many cross-cultural experiences that makes an individual.
Of course, I am speaking from my own experience and that is not applicable to individuals who have little exposure to other cultures, directly (meeting people) or indirectly (TV, news, studies, etc.). On the whole, though, I feel that Steger tempers his statements by bringing up this new synthesis of cultures and how it has created "new symbolic expressions."
This is even apparent in smaller microcosms. I will use the MMA world as an example. We're all trained in various forms of striking and grappling and wrestling. Professional fighter Georges St.-Pierre is a prime example of the individuality present in our sport given through cross-cultural training. He is a traditionally a Kyokushfin karate fighter, yet he has been cross-trained in Muay Thai, boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. While most of us are indeed cross-trained in multiple arts, we all have unique syntheses based on our natural abilities and the experiences we have had in cross-cultural martial arts.
Staying with combat applications, but moving into larger microcosms, observe our police and military forces. Kali/Eskrima/Anis training has become mandatory from some, or simply absorbed and adapted into a regimen (such as MCMAP). The ever-increasing presence of Kali instructors has led to police forces around the nation employing their services to teach officers more effective ways to engage hostile individuals with a baton or in hand-to-hand combat. Our knife training has been implemented into all U.S. military forces and in many other militaries across the globe as well. While this training may be from the same art, we have to consider the other factors: the teacher (your friends that have Search clearly don't all have someone as awesome as Dr. J), the individual's physical capabilities, their mental preparedness, or that person's cross-cultural martial arts training. All these result in an individual synthesis that includes a new form of martial art (the antithesis) being combined with whatever knowledge, or lack thereof, they had possessed before (their original thesis).
Anyway, that's my spiel. Thoughts?