Westernization on Culture

1.1 Introduction

Westernization is defined as a process whereby societies come under or adapt to the Western culture. The adoption is done in many aspects as in industry, technology, medicine, politics, economics, diet, alphabet, religion, philosophy and most importantly in lifestyle. Instead of starting over from the beginning every generation, people keep picking up what others have already left off. In the ethical context, westernization has made people become very relativist, because they have been adapting the condition of behaving and being judged not only people themselves, but in comparison with others. That is of course a behavior which loses the richness of uniqueness and the richness of culture itself. Considering this fact, it is indeed very clear that westernization brings degradation more than it brings enrichment in cultures and people of many places of the world. If we refer to the past, there was a warmer atmosphere existing within the families and relatives. Contrary, nowadays that warm atmosphere has been diminished. That is because time by time, the idea that each person is more important as an individual rather than sharing effort and responsibility with others has come to the stage. Because of westernization, the world is becoming smaller and bigger at the same time since westernization is very interrelated to globalization.

1.2 Problem definition

The ideal role of westernization is to distribute or share the positive things in a society, and enrich it with moral customs and beliefs. However, nowadays the role of the westernization is increasingly affecting other cultures for the negative side as it is diminishing the valuable customs of cultures in many countries of the world. Undeniably, the reality has become in that way that people have forgotten their own prized and enriched cultures by being affected by westernization. Based on the following points, this paper aims to elaborate 3 arguments on westernization bringing materialism, diminishment of culture by adolescence, and underestimation of the richness of cultures.

1.3 Arguments

Argument 1 – Westernization bringing materialism on cultures

Nowadays the knowledge about the past and the richness of culture and tradition has been replaced with the knowledge about life stories of our famous world-wide known singers, actors, and stage stars. Modern people have created so many thousands of distinct and special cultures. But what will happen if we leave westernization damage all the distinct cultures and turn the whole world into a one with a big, homogenous culture?! A study conducted in 2008 suggests that the degeneration of language and the cultural diversity is interrelated to the loss of the biodiversity. It is found that westernization has definitely made people become more materialistic, and forget about the richness of their own cultures with spiritual fruitfulness.

It is clearly known that westernization is changing our life. For instance, as we all get up we go to the local Starbucks and we find ourselves as a part of a cultural experiment which has never ever been seen before. In a very short time, this company has been grown and developed to be converted from a small one, into nearly 20,000 shops in around 60 countries all around the world. Every single year the stores serve cups of completely the same coffee in the same cups to hundreds of thousands of people. Based on that, no matter where are we living in, we are getting the identical same coffee every morning with those people who are living in different parts of the world such as in Paris, New York, London, Bangkok, Berlin, and so on.

Definitely that it is not only the Starbucks, but there are plenty of others as well. Let us see for example the scenario of people getting their lunch after work. McDonald’s is what attracts people the most, and you can see the presence of it in most countries all over the world. So, based on this we can see that our traditional food has almost been forgotten as we are always frequenting the world-known companies or shops to eat. Besides that, let us take the example of Pepsi or Coca Cola which as a global brand has made people addicted to it, and at the same time has made people forget about their own traditional drinks. Moreover, the social network like Facebook is another global brand which connects people all over the world, and by this example we can see the homogenization in terms of loss of diversity, identity in a society.

Argument 2 – Diminishment of culture by the adolescence

According to Tomasik and Silbereisen (2011), the adolescence does learn a lot of new knowledge by sharing information with others through items that westernization brings. However, the recent macro-social trends that are related to westernization will affect adolescents in domains or contexts of their life including their family’s origin, their schools, their public life, and so on. So from this we can learn that indeed, young people / adolescents have the chance of possessing a bridge which connects them with every part of the world. However, apart from the advantages that they will get as a result of westernization, there are still the bad sides or the disadvantages that will appear among the way the adolescents by making them forget the knowledge about their own culture, their past, and their valuable items that their culture holds.

People should by themselves have the capacity to identify ascertain the richness of their own cultures. As said by Tomasik and Silbereisen (2011), in order not to let westernization affect other valuable cultures, people should be able to recognize the unique capacity of their own culture. Not only that, but they should also appreciate whatever their culture holds, because that is the most important thing. People can simply pick up where the others have already left off, without having to learn again their own cultural knowledge for each generation. That is because better ideas and insights will be built in a successive way upon the others that came before those people, and there will be a combination with other ideas which will give a big rise to new inventions.

I personally believe that time by time, the adaptation of the cumulative culture has been accelerated by the increased innovation and development of technology. All the internet tools and services make people an opportunity to more effectively share their knowledge with the successive generations. This definitely opens an unbridgeable gab in the potential of people to protect the traditional way of reading historical books which teach them about their most important figures who have actually made it possible for their countries to be free from enemies. It is vividly known the fact whereby most of the youth are not aware about their past histories and other items that their culture teach and educate them in the best way possible.

As explained by Potrafke and Ursprung (2012), there are also some advantages of westernization which have made it possible for the gender equality to be developed. By observing that progress for almost one hundred developing countries at ten year interval starting at 1970, it has been founded that economic and social exert an influence on the social institutions. Those reduce female subjugation and also promote gender equality. However, there are counter arguments based on what Potrake and Ursprung have said. Nowadays, the role of women has changed because of westernization. In the past, females in general were obeying to the rules more (rules refers to the responsibilities). The duty to take care about the family, the children, to cook, to be nice with parents in-law and all this kind of things are now more diminished. Because of the fact that westernization keep highlighting gender equality, women sometimes have misconception about it, and think that by having gender equality, they are free from all the responsibilities. Indeed, that is something completely wrong, and that is the reason why in today’s world the number of divorces is continuously increasing.

Based on my personal opinion, it is already known that westernization as a changing process has done a lot of impacts (mostly negative) to our cultures and societies. By getting to hear a lot of cases and scenarios, I came to learn about the complete different type of lifestyle that westernization has brought to the stage. For instance, nowadays young people do not show the interest of knowing much about their past, culture, history, tradition. All they care or they want to know is the news about celebrities and famous people. Even when it comes to the food, McDonalds as a global brand has definitely affected the level of traditional food frequency. So, we have come in a time whereby we are neglecting our own cultures in every aspect. That can be proved and demonstrated in any scenario of our daily lifestyle.

Indeed, if we would ask anyone whether a world with an only culture is good, he or she would not agree, and would respond that no, that kind of world is not good. At the end of the day, diversity as many cultures are supposed to exist in the world makes the world unique. In case people continue following or ‘westernizing’ their own culture, then of course that the result will have the shape of a not colorful world. It will be an un-enriched world with lots of things missing; things which before have made it interesting, lovely, competitive, and achievable!

Argument 3 – Underestimation of the richness of cultures

According to Eckersley (2001), apart from other disadvantages brought, westernization can also be considered as a health hazard. Cultures of many societies are being underestimated because of western culture due to materialism and individualism. There is a range of disciplines of arguing that materialism and individualism are detrimental to people’s health and well-being. By being so, the impacts will also appear on psychosocial factors like personal and social support. There are two main things make this case for paying more attention and being more focused on how to protect our cultures from being diminished and affected. The first thing is the role of income inequality has become less clear, so there are major health differences of the populations. The second thing is the general acceptance that psychosocial factors are an important pathway. By so, the inequality and the other social determinants do affect the health of population. Besides that, perceptions and emotions are also important to the outcomes of health. So, the impact of westernization has been so rambling.

As said by Marmot and Wilkinson (2001), the culture of inequality is more aggressive and less connected, because of the relationship between income inequality and social affiliation. By so, attributes of a culture of inequality has been produced in today’s world. While according to Marmot and Syme (1976), the neglect of culture is very invisible to those people who comprise assumptions and beliefs, making their effects hard to discern. People should be aware and never forget that culture refers to the language and accumulated knowledge, values, beliefs, and assumptions. All these are passed between individuals and through generations. It is indeed a system of symbols which shape the way how people see the world. Besides that, it is the knowledge people must have in order to function adequately in society.

So, as we know the richness that a culture possess, than I believe it is not appropriate to weaken its richness by utilizing westernization. In that way, we are simply putting a red cross to all the valuable items of our own cultures. Disregarding the fact that we get allured from the western culture irrespective from any aspect, we should not neglect our own culture, because it is our own culture which has shaped our character, personality, and has made us who we are today!

1.4 Conclusion

In conclusion, westernization as a process of making other cultures adapting it has hugely made tremendous changes in our societies. Those changes mostly take the shape of negative impacts. The adoption of westernization is not only done in one aspect but in many, including religion, economics, technology, politics, and most importantly lifestyle. Everyone’s way of living has been wreathed with westernization. People nowadays have almost forgotten the richness of their own culture by practicing and utilizing everything from the Western culture. If the impact of westernization would only be for the positive side, then it would not be such a problem. However, along the time every single valuable thing of a distinct culture is being diminished only because of westernization. Young people are not anymore aware and even interested to know about the richness of their own culture. The richness of their own culture is referring to food, music, clothes, and the way of living in general. Hence, people should possess the ability to identify and ascertain the richness of their own cultures, instead of struggling to resemble only to westernization.

References

Ehrlich, P. R. (2000). Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect. Washington     DC: Island Press.

Eckersley, R. (2001). Losing the battle of the bulge: causes and consequences of increasing           obesity (pp.174-590).

Leidner, D. E. (2010). Globalization, culture, and information: Towards global knowledge            transparency (pp. 69-77). USA: Elseiver.

Marmot, M. & Syme, S. L. (1976). Acculturation and coronary heart disease in Japanese Americans (pp. 104-225).

Marmot, M. & Wilkinson, R. G. (2001). Psychosocial and material pathways in the relation          between income and health: a response to Lynch (pp.322-1233).

Potrafke, N. & Ursprung, H. W. (2012) Globalization and gender equality in the course of             development (pp. 399-413). USA: Elseiver.

Tomasik, M. J. & Silbereisen, R. K. (2011). Globalization and adolescence (pp. 109-117). Germany: Academic Press.

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