The Article, Trade Between Cultures, By Tyler Cowen Essay

The Article, Trade Between Cultures, By Tyler Cowen Essay

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The article, “Trade between Cultures,” by Tyler Cowen sets out to illustrate how globalization simultaneously results in cultural homogenization and heterogenization. Cowen is a professor at George Mason University and has written a vast number of books centered around the subject of economics. In his article, Cowen describes everyday examples of how trade has contributed to diversity within cultures, while also challenging several anti-trade ideas by arguing that trade can lead to more widespread diversity and innovation within societies.
From the beginning, Cowen jumps into a few examples of how several countries are trying to combat diversity and preserve their local culture by setting restrictions on how much foreign entertainment content is allowed. Among the examples listed, Cowen reports that some Antillean countries have limited Haitian music, Canada has limited an American bookstore from expanding into its country due to the fear that it would not carry enough Canadian literature, and France is spending roughly $3 billion every year on attempts to preserve their national culture (264). He attempts to explain this behavior by rationalizing that “trade is an emotionally charged issue…because it shapes our sense of cultural self” (264). With this, Cowen introduces the view that not everyone is in favor of international trade and increased diversity within society. He builds on this by presenting compatible views that express the overall opinion that widespread diversity and trade ruin traditional culture and create a push toward mass production of low quality, in-demand items. After transitioning away from his oppositions’ beliefs, but before diving into his argument, Cowen makes it a point to clarify that he will be analy...


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... to look increasingly similar as products become more widespread, but trade between cultures will ultimately “…increase diversity over time by accelerating the pace of change and bringing new cultural goods with each era or generation” (273). The new ideas that are introduced within societies increases the variety and diversity within cultures, allowing for more creativity among its inhabitants.
Cowen’s article serves the purpose of explaining both sides of the debate over whether cross cultural trade is a positive or negative action. He provides background and examples on how people are trying to preserve their native cultures and provides reasoning for why people may feel that trade and diversity is not something to celebrate. He also explores his own opinion on why trade is beneficial for increasing diversity and creativity within societies around the world.

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