Posted by TheFallen on October 11, 2004

In Reply to: The universal through the particular posted by Lewis on October 11, 2004

: : : : : : How to explain it?

: : : : : Travel gives you experiences and perspectives that you won't find at home.

: : : : It gives one the opportunity, but not everyone takes advantage of it. Some well-travelled people are still very provincial.

: : : when I was in Italy some years ago - we had an English couple sit next to us in a restaurant - the menu was the usual Italian trattoria/pizzeria fare - they asked for an omelette. now, there is nothing wrong with omelette per se, but to go so far and want home-cooking of such simple nature seems to defeat part of the purpose - we travel for pleasure in all the senses : the sounds of pealing bells and foreign language, the smell of drains(!), plants and cooking, the taste of the food, the sight of the landscape/townscapes/art, the touch of cool marble.

: : : ...at least that is how I consider it.

: : : seeing that what one experiences at home is not the only way of life is all part of it. OK, so a friend who works for an aid agency and had a visit to Rwanda may be thankful of the life he leads back here, but having been there, he knows something of how life can be different.
: : : seeing Madrid at 2 a.m. as crowded as London on Saturday afternoon was quite amazing for me - or wandering around safely at 1 a.m. with no bars closing unless the owners felt like it - or shops being generally open until late evening - these are all differences that make one think about how lives can be different, even on the same continent.

: : : with all due respect to our American friends, the global dominantion by multinationals and cultural imperialism does threaten these differences, but for now, we can still observe and celebrate them.

: : I think it's the market that tends to standardise things these days. There's so much lip service paid to DIFFERENCE these days but it's difference for it's own sake. The joy of difference, for me at least, is that it's the journey that leads to the universal. It's like learning to love haggis... you don't necessarily *like* per se (though I do in small quanities)but you love that you're in on the joke. Does that make sense?

: : Word Camel
: : Who is inexplicably craving haggis now

: Mmm - I think we agree - the multinationals operate in a market, but some have monopoly or oligopoly power - certainly disproportionate power compared to local independent competitors.

: it is one thing for the public to prefer "Starbucks" coffee, but another if the company uses their economic power to drive smaller businesses into insolvency. as Joni Mitchell said "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" - people make short-term economic decisions so dominent forces in a market can cut prices below cost to destroy competition and once that competition no longer exists, they can raise prices/lower quality as they choose - because they have eliminated choice.

: personally, without faulting their quality, I find Starbucks overpriced and over-saturating the market, so I prefer to drink coffee elsewhere. in lots of places SBs may be better than what existed before, in some places it most definitely is not. The Italians were concerned at SBs inroads into the conventional market - they felt it was damaging their culture.
: that is of no concern to organisations like SBs - like MucDonalds they want global market share irrespective of culture or choice/quality issues. Me? I boycott Mucky Ds too. My choice.
: Pure prejudice - I do not like the company, do not like the product enough to overlook disliking the company and would prefer to spend money elsewhere - preferably with a more locally-owned supplier.

: there is the question of marketing - with enough money backing the PR, a brand can establish itself even if the product is awful. popularity is not a mark of quality.

: people have similar needs and aspirations throughout the world, but they do not need to be met in the same way. diversity of culture can be lost the same way that bio-diversity can be lost and we become weaker as a species as a result.

I couldn't agree more. Being in marketing, I well know how product quality has far less to do with success than product image. Being in IT, I'm also regularly prone to rail impotently against market dominance by global corporations. Finally, being a rebel without a clue, I am proud to confirm that I have been banned in perpetuo from Starbuck's flagship store in Seattle.