There are many debates about the launch of more and more international chain stores and restaurants in a different culture. Like I already discussed in previous blogs, there are already some disputes about opening Starbucks in the Forbidden City and temples. Many people view it as a product under the circumstance of globalization; however, there are also many say it’s a new form of cultural invasion under the surface.
In Tyler Cowen’s book Creative Destruction, he talks about a Minerva model, which is a scenario that “a burst of creative flowering also brings the decline of a culture and an ethos.” (Cowen, 2004) It means in the exchange of cultures, both parties seem to be more developed and creative when two cultures confronts each other. But it will only last for a while, and then the weaker culture might adapt its cultural output to cater for the stronger culture. So it’s still harmful from the long run, because it changes the original taste of a certain culture.
But from my perspective, I think it’s just an over exaggeration. It’s hard to measure if the ethos of a cultural group is strong or weak, besides it’s not possible to completely destroy a culture by just exchanging goods or trading. More and more countries are benefiting from globalization, and we really need to keep an open mind about it.
At the same time, those international chain restaurants or stores, as representatives of strong cultures, don’t necessarily do damage to local cultures. In most cases, they don’t always ask local culture to change for them, but they absorb certain elements of local culture and adapt to local ethos. Take McDonald’s as an example, they changed their recipes in order to adapt to local market.
I do appreciate the efforts McDonald’s or any other chain restaurants made to adapt to local market. But it will be my against my will if I say it’s tasty… It falls somewhere in between: people who are used to local cuisine don’t welcome it, and it’s also “resented” by people who are used to normal McDonald’s cuisine. It’s better to be viewed as a creative burst after the communication between cultures.
When two cultures meet, it is not necessarily true that one culture has to defeat the other. They can mutually benefit from each other and improve our lives, or just taste better, in my case.
Cowen, T. (2004). Creative Destruction. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.