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. 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, 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." 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. 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," just one representation of the possibly harmful effects of Westernization.
- 1 Definition of the West
- 2 Process of Westernization
- 3 Consequences
- 4 Examples of Westernizing Leaders
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
Definition of the West
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. 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.
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 Council of Europe, the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and other organisations, 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.).
- 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. 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. According to Sammy Smooha, a professor emeritus of sociology at Haifa University, Israel is described as a “hybrid,” a modern and developed “semi-Western” state. With the passage of time, he acknowledged, Israel will become ”more and more Western.” But as a result of the ongoing Arab-Israeli dispute, full Westernization will be a slow process in Israel.
- 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, are a testament to its westernization. It is usually a member of European organisations for cultural events such as the Eurovision Song Contest.
- South Africa. Due to the high influence of European culture in places like South Africa, it could be said that the country is Western or has achieved Westernization. Moreover, White South Africans of European origin make up about 9% of South Africa. Another 9% are of mixed race. Unlike Black South Africans who've maintained their own native languages, most mixed South Africans speak Afrikaans as a first language. Likewise, most Indian South Africans speak English natively today. Therefore, it can be argued that this collective 20% of native English and Afrikaans speakers (both European-derived) live in heavily Western influenced cultures. Similarly, whites and coloureds are over 10% of Namibia. They primarily speak Afrikaans and German as a first language. In addition to that, many Black South Africans and Namibians speak European languages, e.g. Afrikaans and English, fluently and are also considered speakers of those languages.
- Widening the definition may cause controversies.
Kishore Mahbubani and Westernization
In Kishore Mahbubani's book entitled The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World (Public Affairs), he is very optimistic. He claimed that new global civilization is being created by people. Majority of non-Western countries are admiring and adhering to Western living standards. However, he warns us that this newly emerging global order has to be ruled through new policies and attitudes. He argues that the policymakers all over the world must change their preconceptions and accept that we live in one world. The national interests must be balanced with global interests and the power must be shared. Mahbubani urges that only through these actions can we create a world that converges benignly.
He stated in his phrase that there is a conflict between "the West and the Rest." He offers three forms of general actions that non-Western civilization can react toward Western countries.
- Non-Western countries can attempt to achieve isolation in order to preserve their own values and protect themselves from Western invasion. However, Huntington argues that the costs of this action is high and only a few states can pursue it.
- According to the theory of "band-wagoning" non-Western countries can join and accept Western values.
- Non-Western countries can make an effort to balance Western power through modernization. They can develop economic, military power and cooperate with other non-Western countries against the West while still preserving their own values and institutions.
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.
Furthermore, Huntington claimes that after the end of the cold war, world politics had been moved into a new aspect in which non- Western civilizations were no more the exploited recipients of Western civilization but become another important actor joining the West to shape and move the world history.
Huntington believed that while the age of ideology had ended, the world had only reverted to a normal state of affairs characterized by cultural conflict. In his thesis, he argued that the primary axis of conflict in the future will be along cultural and religious lines.
Edward Said and Westernization
In 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.
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
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. 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. 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. Furthermore, Iran's attempt to westernize, which was dictated by the Shah, was partly responsible for the Iranian Revolution.
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.
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, Chile 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 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:
- English (United States and Canada without French-speaking Quebec)
- English - Australia and New Zealand or English along with English-based creole languages (Jamaica and most of the West Indies, Guyana).
- French (Quebec, New Brunswick and parts of Ontario in Canada and Saint Pierre and Miquelon); French along with French-based creole languages (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint-Barthelemy).
- Spanish (Hispanic America, although in Paraguay most people are bilingual with Guarani and there are more Guarani speakers than Spanish speakers).
- Portuguese (Brazil).
- Russian - (Northern Asia and parts of Central Asia).
- Dutch along with creole languages (Suriname, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles).
- Afrikaans along with English (parts of South Africa).
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
- Emperor Meiji
- Peter The Great
- Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
- Guangxu Emperor
- Sun Yat-sen
- Deng Xiaoping
- Mikhail Gorbachev
- Reza Shah Pahlavi
- Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
- Emperor Gojong
- Africanisation is the modification of names to better reflect an African identity.
- Americanisation is the influence the United States of America has on other cultures.
- Anglicisation is the process of making something English.
- Anti-Americanism represents a hostility towards the government, culture, or people of the U.S.A.
- Arabisation transforms an area into one that speaks Arabic and is part of the Arab culture.
- Colonial mentality
- Cultural assimilation
- Cultural cringe (Cultural Alienation)
- Cultural diversity
- Cultural genocide
- Cultural identity
- Cultural imperialism
- Culture of Europe
- Romanisation, the spread of Roman culture and language.
- Culture of the United States
- Datsu-A Ron
- Democratic peace theory is a theory which holds that democracies (almost) never go to war with one another.
- de-Russification is a process in the post-Soviet countries to reverse the process of Russification.
- Diseases of affluence are diseases thought to be a result of increasing wealth.
- Europeanisation can either mean the process of transforming a society into a more European society or the process of growth towards a European identity in Europe.
- Francisation is the process of giving a French character to something or someone.
- Germanisation is defined as either the spread of the German language and culture, or the adaptation of a word to the German language.
- Hellenisation, the spread of Greek culture and language.
- Intercultural competence
- Islamisation the process of a society's conversion to Islam.
- Japanisation is the process in which Japanese culture dominates, assimilates, or influences other cultures.
- Kicking Away the Ladder
- Korenisation or Korenizatsiya was the early Soviet ethnicity policy.
- Language shift
- Magyarisation or Magyarization is spreading the Hungarian language and culture in general.
- Melting pot
- Non-Westernized concepts of male sexuality as opposed to Westernized concept of sexual orientations
- North-South divide is the socio-economic division which exists between the wealthy developed "North" and the poorer developing "South"
- Paper Bag Party
- Passing (racial identity)
- Polonisation is the assumption or assimilation of the Polish language or another Polish attribute.
- Racialism (Racial categorization)
- Latinisation is a system for representing a word or language with the Latin alphabet, or the traditions of the Latin Rite into Eastern Catholic Church Liturgies and practices.
- Romanianization is the process of giving Romanian attributes to something non-Romanian.
- Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attribute by non-Russian communities.
- Sinicisation is the process in which Chinese culture dominates or influences other cultures.
- Slovakisation is the policies of Czechoslovakia then Slovakia against the ethnic Hungarians there.
- Social interpretations of race
- Turkification is a cultural change in which something or someone who is not a Turk becomes one, voluntarily or by force.
- Ukrainisation was the policy conducted by the Bolshevik party and the Government of the Ukrainian SSR during the 1920s and 1930s to increase the presence of Ukraine.
- Western culture
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- Kottak, Conrad Phillip. (2005). Window on Humanity. New York: McGraw-Hill
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- Murden S. Cultures in world affairs. In: Baylis J, Smith S, Owens P, editors. The Globalization of World Politics. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2011. p. 416-426.
- Rashad Mehbaliyev: Civilizations, their nature and clash possibilities
- Polis, Carey (2011-07-29). "McDonald’s China Plans To Open A New Store Every Day In Four Years". Huffington Post. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- Adrian, Bonnie (2003). Framing the Bride: Globalizing Beauty and Romance in Taiwan’s Bridal Industry. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.
- Dore 1984, Unity and Diversity in World Culture in Bull & Watson eds. Expansion of International society, OUP, p 416
- 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.
- The Idea of the West (2004), written by Alastair Bonnett (Palgrave)
- The Decline of the West (1918), written by Oswald Spengler.
- The End of History and the Last Man (1992), written by Francis Fukuyama.
- The Clash of Civilizations (1996), written by Samuel P. Huntington.
- The Triumph of the West (1985) written by Oxford University historian J.M. Roberts.
- Ankerl, Guy (2000). Global communication without universal civilization. INU societal research. Vol.1: Coexisting contemporary civilizations : Arabo-Muslim, Bharati, Chinese, and Western. Geneva: INU Press. ISBN 2-88155-004-5.