World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Westernisation

Article Id: WHEBN0028207453
Reproduction Date:

Title: Westernisation  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Bharatiya Janata Party, Neocolonialism, Music of Sudan, Boris Sheremetev, Sociology of health and illness, Cultural appropriation, Mungiki, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia, Western world
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Westernisation

This article is about the influence of Western culture. For the eye surgery, see Epicanthoplasty.



Westernization or Westernisation (see spelling differences), also occidentalization or occidentalisation (from the Occident, meaning the Western world; see "occident" in the dictionary), is a process whereby societies come under or adopt Western culture in areas such as industry, technology, law, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, language, alphabet, religion, philosophy, and values.[1] Westernization has been a pervasive and accelerating influence across the world in the last few centuries, with some thinkers assuming westernization to be the equivalent of modernization,[2] a way of thought that is often debated. The overall process of westernization is often two-sided in that Western influences and interests themselves are joined with parts of the affected society, at minimum, to change towards a more Westernized society, in the hope of attaining Western life or some aspects of it. To assume, however, Western societies are not affected or changed by this process and interaction with non-Western groups is misleading.

Westernization can also be related to acculturation and enculturation. Acculturation is "the process of cultural and psychological change that takes place as a result of contact between cultural groups and their individual members."[3] After contact, changes in cultural patterns are evident within one or both cultures. Specific to westernization and the non-Western culture, foreign societies tend to adopt changes in their own social systems relative to Western ideology, lifestyle, and physical appearance, along with numerous other aspects, and shifts in culture patterns can be seen to take root as a community becomes acculturated to Western customs and characteristics – in other words, westernized.

The phenomenon of westernization does not follow any one specific pattern across societies as the degree of adaption and fusion with Western customs will occur at varying magnitudes within different communities.[4] Specifically, the extent to which domination, destruction, resistance, survival, adaptation or modification affect a native culture may differ following inter-ethnic contact. In a situation where a native culture experiences destruction as a result of a more powerful outside force, a "shock phase" can often result from the encounter. Such a phase is especially characteristic during expansionist or colonialist eras. During a shock phase, repression using military force may lead to a cultural collapse or ethnocide, a culture’s physical extinction. According to Conrad Phillip Kottak, the Westerners "will attempt to remake the native culture within their own image, ignoring the fact that the models of culture that they have created are inappropriate for settings outside of Western civilisation,"[5] just one representation of the possibly harmful effects of Westernization.

Definition of the West

Main article: Western world

Territorial

The "West" was originally defined as the Western world. Ancient Romans distinguished between Oriental (Eastern, or Asian) cultures that inhabited present-day Egypt and Occidental cultures that lived in the West. A thousand years later, the East-West Schism separated the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church from each other. The definition of Western changed as the West was influenced by and spread to other nations. Islamic and Byzantine scholars added to the Western canon when their stores of Greek and Roman literature jump-started the Renaissance. Although Russia converted to Christianity in 10th century, the West expanded to include it fully when Peter the Great deeply reformed the country's government, the church and modernised the society thanks to the ideas brought from the Netherlands.[6] Today, most modern uses of the term refer to the societies in the West and their close genealogical, linguistic, and philosophical descendants, typically included are those countries whose ethnic identity and dominant culture are derived from European culture. However, though sharing in similar historical background, it would be incorrect to regard the Western world as a monolithic bloc, as many cultural, linguistic, religious, political, and economical differences exist between Western countries and populations.

Western civilisation is commonly said to include Northern America (U.S.A. and Canada), Europe (at least the European Union, EFTA countries, European microstates), Australia and New Zealand.

The definition is often widened, and can include these countries, or a combination of these countries:

  • European countries outside of the EU and EFTA - Due to mainly their membership in the European Neighbourhood Policy, these countries are included in the definition of the West. They also share general European culture with countries forming of EU.
  • Latin America. Some countries in Latin America are considered Western countries, largely because most of its peoples are racially descended from Europeans (Spanish and Portuguese settlers and later immigration from other European nations). And thus their society operates in a highly Westernized way. Indeed, most countries in Latin America use their official language, either in Spanish or Portuguese. According to the CIA -The World Factbook-, there has also been considerable immigration to Latin America from European nations other than Spain and Portugal, (For example, from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, etc. See Immigration to Argentina, Immigration to Chile or Immigration to Brazil.).[7]
  • Turkey. Although geographically only 3% of Turkey lies in Europe, Turkey has a similar economic system, has a customs union with the European Union in addition to being an official candidate for membership, and is a member of typical Western organisations such as OECD, Council of Europe, and NATO. It is usually a member of European organisations for sports and cultural events such as UEFA and the Eurovision Song Contest.
  • Israel.[8] Although geographically Israel is located in the Middle East south of Lebanon, Israel had many Jewish immigrants who were from Western countries like the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Germany. It is a member of the OECD. It is usually a member of European organisations for sports and cultural events such as UEFA and the Eurovision Song Contest.
  • Lebanon. Although geographically Lebanon is located in the Middle East north of Israel, Lebanon has almost 40% Christians who are heavily influenced both culturally and socially by Western countries (particularly France with whom they share historical ties dating as early as the Crusader's state of County of Tripoli founded by Raymond IV of Toulouse that encompassed most of present day Lebanon. The French legacy within the whole Lebanese society is the widespread fluent knowledge of the French language). Western influence brought in by the country's Christians spread to the rest of its population, making today's Lebanon a unique blend of East and West. Lebanon's comparatively progressive society and the culture and features of metropolitan Beirut, known as Paris of the Middle East,[9] are a testament to its westernization. It is usually a member of European organisations for cultural events such as the Eurovision Song Contest.[10]
  • Widening the definition may cause controversies.

Different views

Samuel P. Huntington and Westernization

In contrast to territorial delineation, others, like the American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington (see The Clash of Civilizations), consider what is "Western" based on religious affiliation, such as deeming the majority-Orthodox Christian part of Europe and North America the West, and creating 6 other civilizations, including Latin America, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu and Slavic-Orthodox, to organize the rest of the globe.[11]

Edward Said and Westernization

In his book “Orientalism”, Edward Said views Westernization as it occurred in the process of colonization, an exercise of essentializing a “subject race” in order to more effectively dominate them. Said references Arthur Balfour, the British Prime Minister from 1902-1905, who regarded the rise of nationalism in Egypt in the late 19th century as counterproductive to a “benevolent” system of occupational rule. Balfour frames his argument in favor of continued rule over the Egyptian people by appealing to England’s great “understanding” of Egypt’s civilization and purporting that England’s cultural strengths complimented and made them natural superiors to Egypt’s racial deficiencies. Regarding this claim, Said says, “Knowledge to Balfour means surveying a civilization from its origins to its prime to its decline—and of course, it means being able to...The object of such knowledge is inherently vulnerable to scrutiny; this object is a ‘fact’ which, if it develops, changes, or otherwise transforms itself...[the civilization] nevertheless is fundamentally, even ontologically stable. To have such knowledge of such a thing is to dominate it.” The act of claiming coherent knowledge of a society in effect objectifies and others it into marginalization, making people who are classified into that race as “almost everywhere nearly the same.” Said also argues that this relationship to the “inferior” races, in fact, works to also fortify and make coherent what is meant by “the West”; if “The Oriental is irrational, depraved (fallen), childlike, “different...” then “...the European is rational, virtuous, mature, normal.” Thus, “the West” acts as a construction in the similar way as does “the Orient”—it is a created notion to justify a particular set of power relations, in this case the colonization and rule of a foreign country.

Personal

A different view on the Western world is not defining it by its territory, but by its people group, as these tend to differ in an increasingly globalised world. This view highlights the non-Western population in countries with a Western majority, or vice versa. The Boers for instance can be regarded as Western inhabitants of South Africa.

Process of Westernization


Colonisation (1492–1960s)

Main article: Colonialism

Europeanisation

From 1492 onward, Europeanisation and colonialism spread gradually over much of the world and controlled different regions during this five centuries long period, colonising or subjecting the majority of the globe. The two World Wars weakened the European powers to such extent that many colonies strove for independence, often inspired by nationalistic movements. A period of decolonisation started. At the end of the 1960s, most colonies were autonomous. Those new states often adopted some aspects of Western politics such as the adoption of a constitution, while frequently reacting against Western culture.

Westernization in Asia

General reactions to Westernization can include fundamentalism, protectionism or embrace to varying degrees. Countries such as Korea and China attempted to adopt a system of isolationism but have ultimately juxtaposed parts of Western culture into their own, often adding original and unique social influences, as exemplified by the introduction of over 1,300 locations of the traditionally Western fast-food chain McDonald's into China.[12] Specific to Taiwan, the industry of bridal photography (see Photography in Taiwan) has been significantly influenced by the Western idea of "love." As examined by author Bonnie Adrian, Taiwanese bridal photos of today provide a strike contrast to past accepted norms, contemporary couples often displaying great physical affection and, at times, placed in typically Western settings to augment the modernity, in comparison to the historically prominent relationship, often stoic and distant, exhibited between bride and groom.[13] Though Western concepts may have initially played a role in creating this cultural shift in Taiwan, the market and desire for bridal photography has not continued without adjustments and social modifications to this Western notion.

In Japan, the Netherlands continued to play a key role in transmitting Western know-how to the Japanese from the 17th century to the mid-19th century, as the Japanese had opened their doors only to Dutch merchants before US Navy Captain, Commodore Perry’s visit in 1852. After Commodore Perry's visit, Japan began to deliberately accept Western culture to the point of hiring Westerners to teach Western customs and traditions to the Japanese starting in the Meiji era. Many Japanese politicians have since also encouraged the Westernization of Japan using the term Datsu-A Ron, which means the argument for "leaving Asia" or "Good-bye Asia". In Datsu-A Ron, "Westernization" was described as an "unavoidable" but "fruitful" change. After Japan's surrender to the USA and its allies ended World War II, the Westernization process of Japanese culture was further intensified and today, Japan is notably among the most Westernized countries in Asia. However, in contrast, despite many advances in industrial efficiency, Japan has managed to sustain a culture of strict social hierarchy and limited individualisation.[14]

Globalization (1960s–present)

Westernization is often regarded as a part of the ongoing process of globalization. This theory proposes that Western thought has led to globalisation, and that globalisation propagates Western culture, leading to a cycle of Westernization. On top of largely Western government systems such as democracy and constitution, many Western technologies and customs like music, clothing and cars have been introduced across various parts of the world and copied and created in traditionally non-Western countries like Japan, China, India, etc.

The main characteristics are economic and political (free trade) democratisation, combined with the spread of an individualised culture. Often it was regarded as opposite to the worldwide influence of Communism. After the break-up of the USSR in late 1991, many of its component states and allies nevertheless underwent Westernization, including privatization of hitherto state-controlled industry.

With debates still going on, the question of whether globalization can be characterized as Westernization can be seen in various aspects. Globalization is happening in various aspects, ranging from economics, politics and even to food or culture. Westernization, to some schools, is seen as a form of globalization that leads the world to be similar with Western powers. Being globalized means taking positive aspects of the world, but globalization also brings about the debate about being Westernized. Democracy, fast foods, American pop-culture can all be examples that are considered as Westernization of the world.

Consequences

Due to the colonisation of the Americas and Oceania by Europeans, the cultural, ethnic and linguistic make-up of the Americas and Oceania has been changed. This is most visible in settler colonies such as the United States of America, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, where the traditional indigenous population has been predominantly replaced demographically by non-indigenous settlers. This demographic takeover in settler countries has often resulted in the linguistic, social, and cultural marginalisation of indigenous people. However, even in countries where large populations of indigenous people remain or the indigenous peoples have mixed (mestizo) considerably with European settlers, such as Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Ecuador, marginalisation still exists. But continued immigration to Chile and eventual "white" majority regions like Costa Rica made these cultures have a castizo or a more Europeanized-mestizo background.

Due to colonisation and European immigration, the prevalent native languages in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, Northern Asia and part of South Africa and Central Asia, are now usually European languages or creoles based on them:

Many indigenous languages are on the verge of becoming extinct. However, some settler countries have gone to lengths to preserve indigenous languages, for example, in New Zealand the Māori language is one of three official languages, the others being English and New Zealand sign language.

Examples of Westernizing Leaders

See also

References

  • Gunewardene, Huon, and Zheng (2001). Exposure to Westernization and Dieting: A Cross-Cultural Study. Int. J. Eat. Disord., 29: pp. 289–293.
  • Khondker (2004). Glocalization as Globalization: Evolution of a Sociological Concept. Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology. Volume 1. Number 2. pp. 12–20.

Further reading

fa:غرب‌گرایی pt:Ocidentalização

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.