Re: Westernization and its effects on culture

Thomas L. Billings (
26 Nov 1995 06:20:12 GMT

Shannon Goins <> wrote:
>I am writing a paper on the effects of westernization on traditionally
> non-western cultures. I would be interested to hear opinions about
>the decrease in cultural diversity...
>How serious is this? ...the risk of imposing western cultural values?
>Any other thoughts related to this issue?

My first thought is that much of what is being spread about is less
"westernization" than industrialization. Industrial environments make
different demands on people in the U.S. than our old european peasant
cultures did. Why should we be surprised or dismayed when that happens
to someone else who starts building their way out of peasant poverty?
The growing industrial cultures can have as much diversity as peasant

The extreme valuation placed on existing cultures in much of academia is
a rather self-serving phenomenon visa-vi those departments that study
existing cultures. Cultural tools should be as valuable as any other of
equal use in gaining survival and fullfillment. Why set them higher
just to please one academic group or another?

If a group of Alaskan North Slope Inuits were moved by some catastrophe
to the jungles of Cambodia, then few would demand they be encouraged to
keep parkas, muckluks, and other cultural items. In contrast when as
large a change happens to them , and to many others, with regard to
industrialization there is an outcry in the last 25 years about how
horrible this is.

I remain skeptical about the real "risk".


Tom B.