Sustainable Design Awards Toolkit

Section 1.2 - The effect of globalisation

As different communities are exposed to the same influences, through film, television, the internet and other global media, both personal and cultural expectations within these communities are changing to become similar to each other. Dominant companies and cultures are impressed on less dominant cultures - for example the introduction of McDonald's restaurants throughout the world, the release of Disney films with slim, big eyed heroines, and the popularity of blockbuster movies from the USA. Supermodels and fashion magazines fuel the demand for beauty and dictate a certain image, which becomes an impossible ambition for people all over the world to become. Rawiwan, a young Thai woman, complains of being too dark and wishes her skin were paler, whilst Emily, a young British girl, yearns for her skin to be more tanned. Increasing amounts of money is being spent on cosmetics and clothes, with the only real winners being the companies who make a profit from human insecurities.

Globalisation is when communities start converging towards the same trends. Using the same language, using the same slang, wearing the same clothes, eating the same food or reaching for the same goals. As global communication increases and becomes more accessible, it is not only news that travels fast; fashions, jokes and even knowledge. The tendency is for the dominant culture to be adopted by others, for example baseball caps are worn all across the world, in many cases as a fashion statement rather than an indication of loyalty to a particular team. However, knowledge and information from other communities is also made available, which becomes incorporated into other cultures. There may be a loss of national identity, but there is a delicate mixture, or homogenisation, of cultures to create a carefully balanced multi-cultural society which we are now able to enjoy.

New York Yankees baseball cap Globalisation sees regional values become global values - with people all over the world wearing New York Yankees baseball caps2  
Recent interior decoration trends in the UK have been heavily influenced by Japanese and Scandinavian cultures and traditions.

Interior design in Britain and other countries has been influenced by the Far East3

Interior design room photograph
Silk sarees Example:
Embroidery and designs from sub continental Asia have been incorporated into fabrics, furniture and fashion in the west.

Silk sarees. These patterns and bright colours have influenced design in Western countries4

As a response to globalisation, there are some areas within a culture which become more distanced from the generic "norm" - those who purposefully react in the opposite way, by rejecting the influence of globalisation.
Hollywood makes "blockbuster movies" - which are expected to draw millions of viewers, and must cater to these mass audiences. As a response to globalisation, independent filmmakers move away from the "guaranteed success" formula used by Hollywood to make thoughtful and expressive films, which engage the viewer on many levels. Independent films have become more successful and confident as audiences grow tired of Hollywood.
In some communities, the loss of a national identity has lead to the creation of a local identity, for example, in Spain people seem to have more association with their region than with their nation, and in the UK there is tribalism between countries, regions and cities - for example Scotland & England, Liverpool & Manchester, and Lancashire & Yorkshire.

The world is becoming "smaller" as communication between countries increases. The internet allows instant communication across the globe, it allows information to be shared with millions of people. Advances in telecommunications makes international telephone calls cheaper and more accessible, providing communication between friends and family members that may otherwise be too costly to consider. It has been described as a "global village" - a cosmopolitan blend of ideas and traditions, which has the potential of enriching each of our lives. However, the idealistic is not necessarily the realistic, and globalisation has both positive and negative implications.

2Image courtesy of
3Image courtesy of
4Picture courtesy of:


Sustainability Issues
1.1  What is sustainability?
1.2  The effect of globalisation
1.3  Consumerism and its effect
1.4  Manufacture Abroad
1.5  Fair trade
1.6  Success stories
Toolkit Index
Section 1.
Sustainability Issues
Section 2.
Companies and Products
Section 3.
Ecodesign Tools
Section 4.
Inspirational current work

Cardboard Bookshelf which is it's own packaging

Interior Design Room Photograph