Four Faces of Global Culture revisited

Sociologist Peter Berger wrote an article in 1997 called Four Faces of Global Culture,  claiming globalization has four dominant cultures. These are:

  • Davos culture
  • Faculty Club culture
  • McWorld culture
  • Evangelical Protestantism

These cultures seem to have been chosen for the purposes of illustration rather than serious analysis. Furthermore, they  overlap rather conspicuously. For instance, at Davos 2008, Rick Warren, the darling of evangelical Protestantism (and chosen one of  Obama), spoke alongside Tony Blair. Also, Rupert Murdoch, the prime mover of the McMedia was a prominent figure, as he was in 2009.

The argument of Berger is somewhat reminiscent of that of John O’Malley’s Four Cultures of the West (2005) – the cultures are chosen impressionistically and therefore their explanatory power is quite restricted. What results is very interesting but fundamentally jumbled.

  • prophetic culture
  • academic culture
  • humanistic culture
  • art culture

A more fruitful way of analysing globalisation might be to use the four cultures identified by Grid-group cultural theory as a lens through which to observe and interpret.

But these kinds of classification rather beg the question of what exactly we mean when we talk about ‘culture‘.

I would take a broad view, following Thompson, Ellis and Wildavsky (1990:2), that culture is:

“the total way of life of a people, their interpersonal relations as well as their
attitudes.” [Michael Thompson, Richard Ellis, and Aaron Wildavsky, 1990 Cultural Theory. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press. This in turn is based on Ruth Benedict’s approach.]

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