Sample Paper on Global Pop Culture Phenomena

Global Pop Culture Phenomena

The contemporary understanding and definition of globalization is a worldwide situation where the rest of the world emulates the mechanisms and behaviours of Western, mainly American, culture. However, this school of thought has greatly been changed. In present day globalization with the generational changes principally placed or thrown to the international mass media. Today’s understanding of Pop culture is placed principally on fully understanding the currently employed ideas, positions, attitudes, motion pictures and movies, as well as other social network activities in altering a young minds thought process. These variations are all-encompassing in factors that include the nature of video games, songs, TV scheduled programs, movies, or internet to present culture. The current society has greatly been influenced by popular culture. In the past modernization mainly influenced younger people; currently, it seems to affect most age groups. Due to the increase in media avenues has changed the land scape of pop culture this paper is set to explain the globalisation of pop culture in respect to different globalisation theories, a case study using PSY’s “Gangnam Style is used in support of the above.

Theoretical framework

By comprehension, globalization is the procedure that sees global integration of world views, products, ideas and other aspects of culture growing into the current population. Most scholars who favour the globalization concepts refer to very recent terms, which were coined or created in the 1970s, and explained the intersection of four interrelated sets of “communities of practice” (John 1990). Despite this ideology of globalisation being a novel philosophy the concept of globalisation is understood by several academics as a model employed through a number of dimension namely, Economic, Political, Cultural and Ecological.

  1. Economic globalisation is the growth as well as broadening of economic activities around the world (Samovar, 2009). This concept is made up of things as such the development of a novel global economic order, the acceptance of international trade and finance, the fluctuation of power of transnational corporations, as well as the enhanced role of international economic institutions.
  2. Political globalization draws the process of growing as well as the expansion of political doings and adoption around the world (P, 42). There are various features of political globalization for instance, the modern-nation state schemes in addition to its changing place in today’s world, play the role of global governance and give direction to be followed by the current government.
  3. Ecological globalization: Issues concerning ecological globalization comprise of population growth, worldwide decrease in biodiversity, the decrease of the disconnection amongst rich and poor besides the difference between the identified global North and South, plus human-influenced climate change, and global environmental fall out (p. 45)

Cultural globalization is the exchange of cultural ideas throughout the world (p, 46). The concept of culture is a very wide conception and has many features, explained by Steger. The author states that cultural globalisation   is “the symbolic construction, articulation, and dissemination of meaning.”

However from the above definitions many scholars refute the notion of globalization or the concept of various dimension of globalisation. For instance, the notion of globalisation of politics is ambiguous explaining that an interconnected national economy does not mean or explain a global economy(James, 2000). James suggest that if a single nation gains abnormally from an economic venture for instance cheap or child labour does not mean that there is economic globalization but economic slavery (p, 32). Economic choke holds such as travelling advisories and sanctions mean that some countries with greater economic powers do not hold the virtue suggested by globalisation. Political globalisation is also questionable as it stands in to represent global democracy. This concept is questioned by the fact that globalisation suggest the world is a level playing field but countries that are regarded as first world still pull political strings on less developed world influencing their political fields. Cultural globalisation is regarded by some scholar as cultural erosion. With globalisation being believed to transfers of culture coming from the western or European continents to the rest of the world critics of globalisations see this as cultural erosion.

Despite these critics, globalisation as defined by Flew  as the procedure of global integration  aspects arising from the exchange or sharing of world views, products, ideas as well as other features of culture is very evident stands very practical (Marc 2012). When assessing all dimension of globalisation as a single unit one can see a pattern where a certain, small cultural features being shared by all communities in the world this is because the  case study in this paper proves that globalisation in all its dimensions show the existence single features as a single unit.

Case study

K-Pop culture

K-pop is an abbreviation of the term Korean pop which is a musical genre originating in South Korea that is characterized by a wide variety of audio-visual0 elements. The current decade, many have seen the growth of K-pop all over the globe with PSY “Gangnam Style”   video and song being the underlining evidence (TheGuardian, 2012).

In 2012, Korean pop and song star PSY became a worldwide entertainment personality after producing and performing his hit song “Gangnam Style”, which was a combination of a catchy tune as well as a platform of accompanying dance which mocks the entrepreneurial lifestyle exposed or experienced in the region of Gangnam in Seoul (Lee 2012). Currently the official music video Official PSY, (2012) has over two billion views and comments on YouTube. Since December 6th 2012, the tune has had over 3.6 million and 3 million downloads in South Korea and America respectively.

Consequently the word Gangnam has been recognized by the Collins English Dictionary. This section of paper explores how “Gangnam Style”, a song written and performed in Korean, comprising of lyrics purely of South Korean culture, has been embraced as an international phenomenon.

Across a variety of cultures, evaluating media coverage, remarks on social media sites as well as personal responses, have applied theories both through social anthropology plus material culture, encamping issues such as globalisation, consumption, as well as in understanding why the Gangnam video has been so globally successfully accepted (Ryall, 2012).

This global wide success of the song could be seen as symptomatic of globalisation (The Weekly Editorial Staff, 2012). Defined by Edwards as the “intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events happening many miles away and vice versa” (Edward, 1986. P. 56).Globalisation and its effects have been amplified by the Internet, which has facilitated communications between groups of people on a global scale, transforming the ways in which social relations can be formed and information is transmitted. In an attempt to explain the global cultural economy, Edwards attempts to explain new global linkages through the concept of “scopes”, the ways in which people, objects and information flow across boundaries in ways which were previously impossible. One of these “scopes” is the “media scape”, the “distribution of the electronic capabilities to produce and disseminate information” (p. 57), which, Edwards argues, and result in “large and complex repertoires of images, narratives and ethno scopes to viewers throughout the world. This is especially apparent in “new media” (p. 60), such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, which has helped to drive up the popularity of Korean pop music across the globe. By allowing it to reach a new audiences, contemporary media granted K-Pop the space for achieving massive global success. This new culture of visibility interacting with Korean culture has been termed the “Korean Wave. Mark Ravinaelaborates that, as theoutcome in this surge in global visibility, Korean philosophy has become both a national and alarge-scale or worldwidemarvel” (Ravian, 2009).

Politically, South Korea has reacted to the extraordinary success experienced by “GangnamStyle” in a positive though process. The song to some considerable extent has grown to be a sign of the country’s pride, and consequently has been employedas a symbol of South Korea’s growing political standing. UN secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was filmed performing the “Gangnam Style” dance alongside PSY and was quoted as saying “”I’m very proud that his performance has been loved and enjoyed by more than 400 million people…It is amazing”(Nate, 2012). The success of Gangnam Stylehas also been used to reaffirm a sense of Korean national identity, with PSY becoming part of Korea’s global promotion of the country’s image, while Korean Culture Minister ChoeKwang-shik claimed that it could be used to promote an understanding of South Korean language and culture on the international stage. The song and video have also become part of a larger international dispute between South Korea and Japan, where music bloggers have been making claims that Koreans have been driving up the hits on YouTube through the use of automated viewing programmes. Han Koo-Hyun, the president of the Korean Wave Research Institute, a body set up to promote Korean popular culture around the globe, responded calling the allegations outrageous . In a separate response a Brazilian man stated “the dance is so popular in Brazil because of the ridiculousness” (Personal communication, December 2012).

Conversely, Orientalism is not a reasonable explanation for the global admiration of “Gangnam Style” (Ju-Min, 2012). While it may explain an aspect of its popular appeal in the West, it doesnot explain the video’s popularity in South Korea or indeed throughout the rest of the world. South Korean in support of “Gangnam Style”relate to the songthrough it is the charismatic natureand connection toPSY. A report from Reuters suggests that Psy’s popularity among Korean fans is due to his average appearance compared to the emphasis on “pretty boy” looks in K-Pop coupled with the humour in his performance. A fan was quoted as saying Psy “has the power to blow away all the stress in the world with one punch” (p. 68). This is also demonstrated through anecdotal evidence from news blog

During a PSY concert in Australia all the audience sang the song though they did not know the words meaning. This means that, for the native Koreans, PSY’s carnival on “Gangnam Style”has a positive influence to the Korean language. In Aristotle’s theory of comedy he states that the viewer feels avenged by the comic character that challenges the repressive rules of the system and enjoys the disgrace of the rule breaker as such as the breaking of the rule itself. In “Gangnam Style”, PSY’s takes on the mantle of comic character, breaking the “rules” of K-Pop, and in doing so forming a relationship with the crowd. The popular appeal of “Gangnam Style” is drawn from desire to participate with PSY’s rule-breaking and the carnival itself.

In conclusion the Globalisation concept is practical in all dimensions and is clearly explained by the Gangnam wave by PSY.



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Sai Ravina, Mark, 2009. „Introduction: Conceptualizing the Korean Wave‟,Southeast Review of  Asian Studies,31, 3 – 9.d, Edward, 1978. Orientalism . New York: Vintage Books

Reddit,.Words cannot even describe how amazing this video is…‟on Reddit2012[online].Available at:[Accessed on 17 December 2012].

Ryall, Julian, “Japan’s deaf ear to Gangnam Style riles South Korea‟ on The Telegraph 2012[online]. Available at ear-to-Gangnam-Style-riles-South-Korea.html[Accessed on 03 January 2013].

Week Editorial Staff, The, 2012. „ ‘Gangnam Style’: The 11 best parodies of the viral video[Updated]‟onThe Week [online]. Available from [Accessed 03 January 2013].

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