Automotive Holiday Deals Books Gift Guide Books Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Black Friday egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Grocery Gifts Under $50 May The Best Garden Be Yours Amazon Gift Card Offer bf15 bf15 bf15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $15 Off All-New Fire Kindle Black Friday Deals Shop Now DOTD

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2005
If you're at all interested in this book, ignore Hoan Chau's review. How does Cowen know Mexicans enjoy the choices available at Wal-Mart? Simple, they shop there and keep it in business. You don't have to like Wal-Mart (I sure don't) to recognize that it doesn't coerce anyone into its store. In an impoverished country like Mexico, it brings in more goods at lower prices than were previously available, thus improving people's standard of living.

On creativity: Cowen isn't writing a philosophical treatise on creativity, so if he ignores the "external influences" on it, that's not a just criticism. But it's surprising that someone could read this book and miss the point: Cowen is arguing that the creativity of others is an external influence on an individual's creativity, so the value of global exchange is that our creativity is stimulated by contact with other country's cultural goods.

Consider the U.S. without Chinese or Mexican food (or, in my case, the nightmare of not having Thai food). Consider the U.S. without the influence of African music. No spirituals, no jazz or blues, no "Graceland" by Paul Simon. Consider how popular Jackie Chan is, not to mention the more respectable Chinese films such as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." If you're more highbrow, consider the absence of Mozart or Paganini. Imagine no access to Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" or the Tao Te Ching, or the Boddhisatva.

In short, Cowen's point is that the global exchange of cultural goods enriches our lives. Efforts to restrict globalization will restrict the flow of these goods, impoverishing us all in ways that are hard to measure in dollar terms, but are easily understood in terms of cultural vivacity and creativity.

And, importantly, contrary to popular wisdom, America isn't exerting cultural hegemony--the Disneyfication of the world is overstated (easy to do when we have such jarring sights as a McDonalds jammed next to Beijing's Forbidden City. But other countries, including developing countries, export their cultural goods to the U.S. This increases the value of their cultural traditions, making it beneficial for people to hang onto them.

Remember, it's individual people (you and me) making these choices. We don't choose them unless we believe we're benefitting. And while we will make mistakes, it's a bit hard to believe that almost all our decisions almost all the time are actually harmful to us. It's even harder to believe that a small group of elites--whether in government or the self-appointed protectors of culture--will be able to make better choices for us. In short, this book is also an argument for preserving individual liberty.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2007
This book is about how globalization is *changing* world cultures, for better or for worse. One of Cowen's central arguments is that globalization creates less diversity between cultures but more between individuals. So should we be pro individualism or pro collectivism?

His last three chapters on Hollywood, Dumbing Down, and National Culture are the most memorable, and persuasive. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Hollywood. His explanation of how modern cinema is what it is was enlightening.

Overall Cowen does what he set out to do; explained how globalization has changed world cultures. More often than not Cowen thinks this has had a net positive effect, but he does argue the other side of the coin. In my opinion Cowen contributes to the globalization vs. anti-globalization debate arguing that it's really one of collectivist culture vs. individual culture.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2006
Tyler Cowen very adeptly reminds the reader that the world's regional cultures have never been static. What we think of as "native" art is really a product of global influence on a local population. So of course it seems silly to decry globalization as homogenizing cultures, when we understand that cultures have always interacted with each other. Indeed, what we are seeing with globalization is the increasing heterogenizing of cultures. Sure you see McDonalds almost everywhere, but you also see indigenous art from Central America, music from the Congo, movies from France, and food from India.

Tyler Cowen does not dismiss the degredation of certain cultural aspects, but he matter-of-factly points out that the alternative, protectionism, is more destructive in the long run, since creativity is stifled.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2003
Cowen's book is one of the few books to
discuss free trade in the context of
cultural goods. easy and fun to read.
No economics background needed.
You will learn a lot about
the history of different cultural goods, including
persian rugs and the successful
movie industry in India (Bollywood).
simply great!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2004
Book Review For: Dr. Nicholas Capaldi
Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana
BA705 Business Ethics-Spring 2004
In Tyler Cowen's Creative Destruction, he addresses the viability of diverse culture in a rapidly expanding global market economy. Most specifically, he focuses on "the particular aspects of culture consisting products which stimulate and entertain us." Cowan defines the following: "music, literature, cinema, cuisine, and visual arts, as the relevant manifestations of culture." The book attempts to answer, by his own account, the age-old question "dating back at least far as Greek civilization: Are market exchange and aesthetic quality allies or enemies?" He proposes that market economies and cross cultural trade have catapulted societies throughout history by facilitating the spread of scientific ideas, creative arts, and enabling isolated cultures to experience a "richer menu of choice" The author offers extensive detail concerning alternative arguments throughout the book as well as the fact that, as in all things, there are opportunity costs associated with each view and some resulting in tragic outcomes.
Cowen qualifies himself on this subject by defining his approach according to his "background as an economist" and his relevant studies of the "scholarly literature and diverse experiences as a cultural consumer", rather than an analysis based on a "single path of specialized study." He outlines his argument that the global economy fosters positive influences on the world's culture by subsequently analyzing the following three "primary lessons":
1. The concept of cultural diversity has multiple and divergent meanings.
2. Cultural homogenization and heterogenization are not alternatives or substitutes; rather, they come together.
3. Cross cultural exchange, while it will alter and disrupt each society it touches, will support innovation and creative human energies.
Cowan begins with the concept definition of cultural diversity as it can be understood in multiple contexts. He explains that diversity is not a single concept. First, "diversity within a society refers to the richness of the menu of choice in that society." The most fragile cultures, with respect to technology, also tend to respond in an explosive fashion to the introduction of new ideas and technologies. They have proven to adapt these technologies and innovations in ways their trading partners never anticipated.
Secondly, Cowan states, "Many critics of globalization focus on diversity across societies comparing whether each society offers the same "menu of choice" and whether societies are becoming more similar," through the process of globalization. He notes that generally, "diversity across societies is a collectivist concept because it does not consider the choices faced by an individual." A libertarian would allow "individuals to create their own meaning." For the purpose of Cowan's argument, libertarians foster individual creativity which is agreed by most to be the backbone of culturally diverse arts.
Limitations placed by government, or activists for that matter, on the market of exchange can significantly alter the outcomes, possibly even the survival of, poorer cultures. Cowan believes that poorer cultures especially, should be allowed to participate in cross cultural trade, even at a social cost, in order to experience the "gains from trade" with outside cultures. As Adam Smith argues in his, Wealth of Nations.., "the best vehicle for innovation is a free market system." Cowan's argument borrows from Smith's ideas and appropriately applies this concept to his claim that cultural diversity requires innovation for the survival of those poorer cultures which would otherwise cease to exist in the long run. As the adaptation process of the new technologies an innovations occur within a poorer culture; it becomes interwoven with aspects borrowed from foreign cultures. Cowan defines this concept later as "synthetic culture."
Synthetic culture refers to the fact that pure societies are mostly obsolete. For example, "The original ideas and inspirations of tribal groups of Zaire have been commodified, and shaped into new synthetic forms, for the purpose of courting outside markets Cowan retorts that the same "defenders of diversity decry the passing of previous cultures and implicitly oppose diversity-over-time," without regard to the necessity of innovations for survival. Cowan's argument has remarkable semblance to that of Cass Sunstein's "Paradoxes of the Regulatory State" where Sunstein argues that "redistributive regulation harms those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder." Here, Sunstein points out that often times regulations have "perverse effects" which serve opposite to the activist intended agendas. Likewise, Cowan argues that those who defend cultural diversity for the sake of "creative purity" will, if successful, risk eliminating the cultures they claim to be defending.
Cowan's final "primary lesson" states that "Cross-cultural exchange brings about value clashes that cannot be solved scientifically, in the short term. In the long run however, any "disruptions and alterations will inevitably support innovation and creative human energies." The whole world has a broader menu of choice (from participating in cross-cultural exchange) but older synthetic cultures must give way to newer synthetic cultures." Cowan states, "As we might expect from cross cultural contact, it supports greater diversity of identity, or ethos, within each society while limiting diversity across societies. As identities move closer together, they cease to make artistic production distinct in varying locales." Cowan claims however, that these ethoses are replaced inevitably by a greater number of partial "niches."
Cowan concludes that "Modernity allows us to enjoy the diversity of the world to a very high degree, relative to the previous ages, even when it undercuts that diversity in some regards. The mere fact exists that change will produce serious disappointment for individuals who seek to preserve particular markers of cultural identity." Cowan states "that it is not obvious (nor reasonable) why markers from the past should have more normative force than other possible markers." So, "Are market exchange and aesthetic quality allies or enemies?" Cowan believes that not only are market exchange and aesthetic quality allies, but they are also interdependent and make the whole world better off. Cross cultural exchange broadens cultural diversity across cultures and its influences within some cultures may even save them from extinction.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2014
This book could have been written in a week. It is shallow. Let me provide one example of its shallowness: The author sees value in cultures becoming more cosmopolitan. He makes a cute argument that diversity adds to cosmopolitanism (e.g. he can collect Japanese prints, eat Mexican food, and listen to East European music). Then he moves on to talking about loss of national cultures. He acknowledges that different national cultures can add to cosmopolitanism. So I would have expected some discussion about this source of diversity in the future. If cosmopolitanism takes over there will be less diversity for cosmopolitanism to thrive on. So does national culture need some kind of protection?

I have no problem with the author taking a libertarian viewpoint, but I cannot stand the shallow reasoning. I am angry having spent time on the book. Having said that, the author is clearly not stupid. There are interesting points in the book, if you really want to read more about the subject. Just don't expect this book to provide much in terms of useful references.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2008
Erica Anderson's review was made as part of a critical review assignment for the Fall 2008 Honors Colloquium on Creative Destruction at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, taught by Art Diamond. (The course syllabus stated that part of the critical review assignment consisted of the making of a video recording of the review, and the posting of the review to Amazon.)
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2015
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
1 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2004
When I bought this book, I was expecting some economical theories especially on Shumpeter' 'Creative Destruction', but T. Cowen really emphasizes on the exposure of culture exchange in today's world.
He really gives good examples, that he explains in details (sometimes it is a bit repetitive).
In summary, I would say that it is a very interesting book to read on globalization because it shows a different aspect of it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
15 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2006
What happens when an economist steps outside of his field to don the hat of an armchair cultural anthropologist? Tyler Cowen's "Creative Destruction" is the result - a book that ignores global corporatism and the roles that states and their creations - i.e. corporations have played in corrupting free enterprise and free markets not only by attacking, usurping, and infiltrating the cultural programming centers of target nations: sport; entertainment including music, cinema, and televison; books and magazines; fashion including cosmetics, clothes and accessories; school and university textbooks, but by attacking, usurping, and infiltrating the cultural programming avenues of America itself.

"Ethos makes globalization a nontrivial problem for culture"(p50) writes Cowen, "By ethos I mean the special feel or flavor of a culture" (p48). Cowen maintains that "There is little danger that economic growth, international trade, and the spread of technical knowledge will bring inferior quality hammers, refrigerators, or vacuum cleaners either to the United States or to lesser developed nations" (p50). It would appear that the last time Cowen walked into a Wal-mart, K-mart, or other department store was to purchase a new pair of shoes for his high school graduation - nearly every item for sale in department stores today is produced by slaves in Communist China. Prior to Clinton's late 1990s trip to Communist China, `Made in China' meant Free China - the Republic of China on the Island of Taiwan. How it became legal for Communist slave-produced goods to be sold in the United States is a question that boggles the American mind! When did America ever allow Soviet goods to be sold in America? Never, to my knowledge. But today slave-produced goods from Communist China are everywhere.

Not only that, the quality of these slave-produced goods is greatly inferior to the quality of goods produced by free workers (workers who may safely say to their employer - "Take this job and shove it, I ain't workin' here no more!"). For example, the Delphi spindle bearing plant in Communist China that is supposed to be a reflection of the Delphi spindle bearing plant in Ohio cannot make bearings that will last through the 50,000-mile new vehicle warranty, whereas the U.S. Delphi bearings last 400,000 miles. Pontiac Aztecs and Buick Rendezvous have Communist Chinese bearings on the front wheels and U.S. bearings on the rear wheels. When Delphi was spun-off from General Motors in 1999, the plan was for the Chinese plant to replace the U.S. plant by 2006 because the Chinese government charges Delphi far less a month for a slave worker than an employee demands in the United States through union negotiation. Now Delphi is stuck with a U.S. plant it doesn't want because General Motors needs the bearings but the Chinese duplicate cannot produce the quality to meet even minimum standards. Delphi, and Cowen, should know that slaves have no incentive to do a good job. Only freedom creates incentives.

Cowen's six chapters in his 179-paged book are 1. Trade Between Cultures 2. Global Culture Ascendant: The Roles of Wealth and Technology 3. Ethos and the Tragedy of Cultural Loss 4. Why Hollywood Rules the World, and Whether We Should Care 5. Dumbing Down and the Least Common Denominator , and 6. Should National Culture Matter? These chapters are followed by a section labeled References followed by an Index.

Cowen sidesteps the issue of the role states play in cultural planning and their relationship to corporations, which are nothing less than creations of the state themselves. Cowen's book is short on cultural theory, cultural policy and planning, the political framework, national identities, and statist cultural planning to include arts administration and practice, tourism, media, the sports industry, or even urban and regional planning. He never mentions the statist UNESCO - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the ways that governments use cultural resources to integrate development of towns, regions, and countries. And he is silent on the role of the soldier in globalization. Cowen's book is simply the mixing of apples and oranges, of the theoretical free market and today's global corporatism, with the effect of providing camouflage for what is really happening - i.e. economic fascism on a global scale, as uninformed anthropologically as it is mistaken. This is all a shame because Cowen's prose is quite artful and could have been a delight to read.

A book that does a much better job introducing readers to the processes of globalization is Tony Spybey's "Globalization and World Society" (1996), which should sit on one's bookshelf next to a copy of Paul H. Weaver's "The Suicidal Corporation" (1988).
44 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Customers who viewed this also viewed

Globalization: A Short History
Globalization: A Short History by Niels P. Petersson (Paperback - August 23, 2009)

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.