Book Review: How "American" Is Globalization?

William Marling debunks the myth that "Americanization" is pervasive in his new book How "American" Is Globalization? In fact, Marling argues, local cultures have proved remarkably resilient in a globalized world. And while there are some instances where American business or culture dominate the world (such as the ATM banking system, shipping containers, and franchising) there are many more instances of "less than we think." Fast food, for example, is hardly an American invention, and even some fast food chains such as Burger King are mistakenly attributed to the States (it’s British). Where fast food does have an American mark — McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, etc — they’ve been an enormous force for good in terms of hygiene standards, management culture, and other practices many third world countries have not been exposed to. Interestingly, many foreign people see McDonald’s as a local company — thanks to such successful integration and menu localization.

The total number of English speakers is also on the decline, despite cries about English taking over the world.

Marling says many Americans believe the Americanization myth because when they travel overseas they see some American logos and pop culture and mistakenly think it’s a dominating force.

People reject globalization for different reasons. I disagree with them on pretty much every front. The Americanization myth is often listed in the "cultural erosion" argument — this book is a nice rebuttal.

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