In this trimester our topic for the panel discussion was “westernization and its effects on our culture. In the panel discussion I represented the role of a cultural expert. Our moderator, Zain, asked two question from each panelist. The following are the two question and my answer to these two questions.
Question 1) Can you explain us in detail how westernization is effecting cultures and how much of our cultures have we lost?
Thank you Mr. Zain.
First let’s see what western culture really means.
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Western lifestyle or European civilization, is a term used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, and specific artifacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe. The term has come to apply to countries whose history is strongly marked by European immigration, such as the countries of The Americas, and the countries of Australasia, and is not restricted to the continent of Europe.
As we see today Led by wealthy Western countries, the mass media, the fashion industry and the education curriculum, the perception of beauty is increasingly being defined by Western parameters due to reasons such as globalization, free trade and high technology.
This is a true problem that I’ve been seeing all over the world, and the main reason behind it is, unfortunately, Globalization. I’m no anti-globalization activist or anything. In fact, I’m totally for globalization, economically and industrially speaking, but we can’t neglect the negative effects it has on culture and society.
Leading fast food chain shops such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s are making people obese at a young age and glamorous Hollywood actors and singers are mesmerizing teenagers into plastic surgery.
So what have we lost to this? Today restaurants serving this or that country’s traditional food are drowned out by the huge fast food chains. Beautiful traditional clothing is lost between the new bulk-made looks created by the big brands, people look alike, eat alike and dress alike whether they’re in New York or New Delhi.
We’re losing one of the things that count the most: our identity, the uniqueness in us, which makes us special and allows us to stand out from the crowd. If you’re not affiliated to some culture that person is lost no matter how good or bad it is.
Again, I’m all for cultural exchange and I, more than anyone else, treasure the notion of a global citizen. But still that doesn’t mean letting go of our unique cultures to adopt a unified fake money-driven one.
Question 2) what ethical problems, do you think this process (the process of westernization) creates in a society?
Loss of cultural identity
Culture is a defining feature of a person’s identity, contributing to how they see themselves and the groups with which they identify.
So by losing your culture you lose site who you are? So here the ethical problem is should I abandon my own culture to adopt the new ways. Should I leave the ways of my parents? Will my parents accept the new me.
The decision on which language to use
Language is central to the expression of culture. As a means of communicating values, beliefs and customs, it has an important social function and fosters feelings of group identity and solidarity.
The loss of language means the loss of culture and identity. In many societies throughout history, the suppression of the languages of minority groups has been used as a deliberate policy in order to suppress those minority cultures. As a result a large number of the world’s languages have been lost with the processes of colonization and migration. This is the case with English.
So the ethical question nowadays is which language we use? English or our own. Today parents have make this decision on to their children.
The Internet has helped teenagers with their social lives; fast food has made food prep less time consuming; and MTV has shown them a whole new different world. As the influx of Western behaviors and thinking continues, teenagers’ lives will be unlike to those of parents. This creates new ethical problems. Facebook ethics. MTV ethics. Fast food ethics. Smoking ethics. Beauty ethics. Dressing ethics. And many more.
At the end of panel discussion we came out of our roles, we also answered question from our lecturer on the effects of westernization back in our country. In my country westernization has destroyed collectivism among people. Also lecturer’s feedback at the end of our panel discussion help me a lot in my future such endeavors. One main thing I learned its better act as yourself rather acting as someone else.