Re: Westernization and its effects on culture

Shannon Goins (
Tue, 28 Nov 1995 13:16:13 -0800

****Please excuse the posting of my last message, for some
reason, it chose to ignore the text that I had added********

"Thomas L. Billings" <> wrote:
> Shannon Goins <> wrote:
> >
> >I am writing a paper on the effects of westernization on
> >traditionally
> > non-western cultures. I would be interested to hear
> > about
> >the decrease in cultural diversity...
> >How serious is this? ...the risk of imposing western
> >values?
> >
> >Any other thoughts related to this issue?
> My first thought is that much of what is being spread about is
> "westernization" than industrialization. Industrial
> make different demands on people in the U.S. than our old
> peasant cultures did. Why should we be surprised or dismayed
> that happens to someone else who starts building their way out
> peasant poverty?

*** I'd just like a little clarification here, please. What
are you getting at when you refer to a 'peasant culture'? It
seems to
me that you are indicating two opposites: industrialized
cultures and
those that are non-industrialized, in your opinion 'peasant

***If this is correct, then could you please tell me what makes
'peasants'? I have lived in such 'peasant
areas) in Kenya and South Africa. If you are referring directly
monetary wealth on an overall scale, then yes, they are poor
monetarily. But, I think that it might be a bit inappropriate
to call
them 'peasants'

> The growing industrial cultures can have as much diversity as
> peasant cultures.

***Are you certain? Think here about things like Coca-Cola,
or American pop music, or blue jeans, etc. When was the last
that you drank a traditional drink of non-western origin, or
to music of artists outside of the US, Great Britian, Ireland or
Australia; and tell me when the last time was that you wore any
of traditional clothing of non-western origin?

***Let me assure you that around the world, in traditional
countries such as Japan, Argentina, Korea, Kenya, South Africa,
they drink Coca Cola, they listen to American pop music, and
they wear
blue jeans. Kind-of one-sided, don't ya' think?

> 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
> or another?

***Who says? We have people who study cultural anthropology out
pure interest in the subject just like we have people who study
biology or chemistry for the same reason. I guess that someone
studies foreign cultures might be more likely to point out the
importance of preserving them than a biology major, but isn't
biology major just as likely to point out the importance of
research, and the need to keep it alive? I don't think that
is trying to put any particular culture on a level higher than
another, it's just that their field of study dictates that they
out the issue of the necessity of preserving that which they
What do you study? What if in 15 years it didn't exist anymore?
Obviously, you'd be out of a job, but more importantly, that
which you
had spent your whole life learning about is gone. Would that
make any
difference to you?

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

*** First of all, I would like a more probable example to
This hypothetical move of the Alaskan North Slope Inuits is
Industrialization is an actual occurrence. I actually agree
with you
that industrialization goes hand in hand with westernization.
At this
point and time, the two can be used almost interchangably. As
far as
what concerns me about what happens when a culture loses its
traditional ways of life to industrialization/westernization, is
the change happens so quickly. What we refer to as 'traditional
cultural values' are most notably those things which developed
over a
long period of time. They are characteristic of the environment
use this word in the largest sense) in which that culture
Therein can be found countless unique methods and expertise in
areas of education, communication, government, medicine, art,
industry, farming, philosophy, religion, problemsolving, etc.
diversity of methods which I have just mentioned is precisely
which has given humankind the ability to develop thus far, and
it is
that diversity which will give us the capability to endure in to

> I remain skeptical about the real "risk".

***Then imagine a world where there is only one method of doing
everything - it might change your mind.

***Shannon Goins