The term Western Culture is often heard in academic environments. But what it is exactly, and what are the pros and cons of Western Culture?
Western culture is purposefully vague since a single word or term can’t describe enough content as broad as culture, architecture, philosophy, literature, rules for law and governance, and so on. However, the concept of Westernization serves as an umbrella term used for all the above-mentioned. It also provides easy distinction from the other principal school of thought in the world, “the East.”
If you are baffled by this term, read on and discover its in-depth meaning.
The Pros and Cons of Western Culture: A Deeper Look
The advancements in technology, philosophy, the sciences, and the arts are evident products of western culture. We enjoy many of the comforts and conveniences in our modern society. All thanks to the influx of progressive ideas and inventions western culture continuously provides.
However, western culture isn’t purely advantageous to the world. In reality, it brings certain disadvantages to countries it influences as well. In this article, we are going to talk about the pros and cons of western culture.
Western culture, also known as Western Civilization, was born thousands of years ago in Ancient Greece thanks to its cultural, philosophical, and scientific advancements.
A considerable amount of Greek cultures, such as Greek plays and myths, the architecture of great temples, and even the philosophical schools of thought, all survived long past the fall of the ancient Greek city-states. Their influence moved westward with the next great civilization, the Romans. After Rome fell, western civilization continued to move even further west until they reached America.
Both Eastern and Western schools of thought differ drastically on how to govern the world and society. The Eastern school of thought puts great emphasis on having a sense of community. It also teaches people to be far more respectful of the elderly. The Western school of thought, on the other hand, focuses more on being wildly individualistic. It pushes people to make a name for themselves to cement their legacy in the world. As a result, the significance of family names has diminished in the West. These divergent ideologies contribute to the formation of distinct cultural identities within the global culture.
Western Cultural Influence: Pros and Cons
Like a coin, Western culture carries with it both positive and negative impacts on the countries and individuals its influences. We’ll discuss what pros and cons of western culture below.
Here are the advantages:
1. Acquiring New Knowledge
Western culture introduces positive aspects by bringing new and diverse forms of knowledge to the lands it comes across. People can discover new ways to do tasks in a safer, faster, and more efficient manner. The science of ergonomics is responsible for studying ways of simplifying tasks. Furthermore, it helps prevent employees from unnecessarily putting themselves in harm’s way.
New ideas replace outdated thinking. It allows people to have more freedom and choices in certain aspects of their lives. Some countries that previously banned women from voting and forced them into arranged marriages have replaced their outdated ways. In that aspect, western culture has freed women from the shackles of tradition and society. Women can now make decisions for themselves and live their lives according to their wishes.
People also discover new methods to improve their quality of life. Advancements in technology such as new ways to filter water and new methods of generating sustainable electricity have brought these necessities to people who previously could not acquire or afford them.
2. Western Culture Helps People Find Out More About Other Countries’ History
Western culture also opens the door to discovering the rich history of other countries. Countries gained better awareness and knowledge of other countries. This newfound knowledge can benefit countries in several ways.
First and foremost, the countries’ respective citizens will gain a deeper understanding of one another. By learning each other’s history, they may find similarities in the struggles and issues they experienced. Ultimately, it leads to a sense of camaraderie between them.
Second, alliances may form between these nations influenced by western culture. This partnership is especially beneficial for ensuring peace between the countries. During wartime, the members of this alliance could form a mutual defense agreement where all other allied nations could send help consisting of troops, arms, and supplies to the country under siege.
Furthermore, members of this alliance can sanction joint archaeological and anthropological expeditions. These expeditions may lead to profound discoveries of the target country’s history and provide newfound knowledge of human history.
3. Acquiring Access To Foreign Literature Becomes Easier With Western Culture
Countries newly influenced by western culture can gain access to literature inspired by western ideals. These foreign pieces of literature can enrich the country’s existing culture by providing additional sources of knowledge and information. It can also inspire the country’s writers to experiment with and adopt new writing styles and more creative ideas for their literary pieces.
Furthermore, the people of that country may learn more practical beliefs and replace harmful and outdated practices. It may even lead to minorities gaining more rights and privileges than before the arrival of western culture.
4. Western Culture Allows People To Gain Knowledge of Foreign Lifestyles
Western culture allows people to gleam the lifestyle of other people from other countries. If these individuals deem that the foreign country’s lifestyle is more beneficial and convenient than their existing way of life, they may choose to adopt that particular lifestyle. In the end, western culture can lead to an increase in life satisfaction and quality of life.
Even if a particular country doesn’t wish to drastically change its way of life, getting information about other people’s lifestyles can still act as a vehicle for greater understanding between people from different countries.
5. Western Culture Provides Greater Job Opportunities
Companies from western countries may choose to expand their operations in other countries. In that sense, these entrepreneurs may prefer going to other countries influenced by western culture due to how familiar they seem. Consequently, people from those countries have more excellent job opportunities. It also benefits the host country, which would see a more positive shift in its economy.
On the other hand, people may migrate to countries influenced by western culture to seek better employment prospects. By going abroad to work, these people get a chance to earn better wages and support their families more substantially than working in their home country. Some jobs even offer people the option to migrate with their families and live a better life.
6. Western Culture Exposes People to New Languages
Another advantage that makes it to the list of the pros and cons of western culture is that it exposes other countries to different languages. After relations are established between two countries influenced by western culture, English can act as an intermediary language to establish communications. However, these countries’ relationships can progress to a point where it encourages their citizens to learn the other’s language.
Learning another country’s language can foster a more profound sense of companionship with their people. It can unlock a few advantages for both sides.
First of all, fluency in different languages can help in making the tourism industry flourish. Tourists will have an easier time navigating a foreign country if they are knowledgeable in the local language. Meanwhile, said country’s tourism professionals can strive to learn as many languages as possible. While English may suffice to communicate between two people from different countries, you can make tourists feel more welcome and comfortable by addressing them in their native language.
Learning to speak other countries’ languages may unlock more job opportunities as well. For instance, if you plan to work in Japan, your job prospects are only a few if you don’t know how to speak Nihonggo, the Japanese Language. If you’re planning to take on a corporate job, you need to learn the respectful form of the Japanese language known as Keigo.
However, that’s not to say that learning Japanese is a must to work there. If you become proficient in English and get a TEFL certification, you can apply for English teaching jobs in Japan which are currently high in demand.
7. Western Culture Paves The Way For More Efficient Production of Goods
Western culture has also contributed largely to the significant increase in the efficiency of the production of goods. Before, most goods were crafted or cultivated by hand or using simple hand tools and pieces of machinery. However, thanks to contributions from pioneers like Henry Ford, credited for the invention of the assembly line, manufacturing goods was made more straightforward, quicker, and more efficient. Goods that would have taken days or even weeks to produce can be created in a matter of hours.
Farmers would have poor harvests and subpar produce in the past due to consistently planting the same crops year-round. This practice is harmful to the soil since planting the same crops depletes nutrients from the ground, reducing soil quality. But by the early 16th century, farmers from Waasland (currently known as Belgium) developed a four-crop rotation system. This system involves sequentially planting different crops on the same plot of land. It helps retain nutrients in the soil, improves soil health, and combat weed, and pest pressure, leading to bountiful and high-quality harvests.
8. Western Culture Has Made Improvements in Hygiene
Hygiene has also greatly benefited from western culture. Back in the day, hygiene wasn’t as developed and given much importance. Poor hygiene practices are to blame for the spread of diseases, the start of epidemics, and the loss of life. During the middle ages, people had no idea what caused diseases. However, in the 1880s, French scientist Louis Pasteur discovered the link between microbes and the transmission of diseases. This discovery enlightened the modern world about the importance of proper hygiene practices to stop the spread of diseases.
Thanks to inventions like the flushable toilet and improvements in modern sewage systems, we now enjoy a more hygienic environment. Even though the world has not entirely recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, our awareness of proper hygiene practices has curbed what would have been a wider spread of the virus.
9. The Scientific Method Became Widespread –Thanks to Western Culture
Perhaps one of the most significant contributions of western culture is the discovery of the scientific method. Galileo Galilei, famous for discovering Jupiter’s four biggest moons, and improvements on the telescope, is the one responsible for pioneering the scientific method. The scientific method is an empirical system of acquiring new scientific knowledge. It has defined the development of science ever since its inception in the early seventeenth century.
It goes without saying that if it were not for the scientific method, the scientific discoveries that led to the conveniences and advancements we enjoy today would not have been possible.
10. Better Economic Relations Are Achievable Due To Western Culture
A country’s economic status can also be affected by western culture. As relations between countries influenced by western culture improve, they may engage in mutual trade agreements that benefit them both. These agreements include relaxation in trade tariffs, joint resource explorations, and free trade agreements.
This way, local businesses that require imported resources to produce goods may have a means of procuring said inventory from other countries. They can reach both domestic and international markets. Additionally, if one of these countries faces a shortage in essential goods, it can procure its stock from its partner country.
Furthermore, countries may borrow money from other countries during national emergencies to spend on relief efforts or stimulate the economy to help a country devastated by calamities stand up on its feet once more.
Now, here are the disadvantages:
1. Western Culture Can Lead to the Adoption of Negative Practices From Other Cultures
While western culture provides many advantages, it also brings adverse effects to a country’s culture. One such adverse effect is the tendency to adopt immoral practices from other countries’ cultures. While western culture emphasizes individuality, too much of it can lead to selfishness and impede a person’s ability to work on a team. They may consider every other employee as competition and a hurdle that prevents them from standing out.
Western culture is also less communal than eastern culture. This difference is apparent in the practice of putting the elderly in homes for the aged. This concept is foreign and perhaps even considered unethical for some eastern cultures, emphasizing the importance of family and respecting the elderly. In Eastern Cultures, it is a common practice to support your parents as much as you can. This tradition can extend to living with your parents and taking care of them in their old age.
Citizens that come into contact with western culture must have the ability to identify which beliefs and practices are beneficial and harmful to themselves and their local culture as a whole. By no means must you be close-minded to other cultures. However, you have the responsibility to protect yourself from harmful and immoral beliefs.
2. Western Culture Can Prevent Local Culture From Being Passed On To The Next Generation
Continuous exposure to western cultural influences can be disastrous for the young generation. It mainly becomes a problem if they encounter western concepts, lifestyles, beliefs, and traditions without knowing their country’s culture. If they do not discover their ancestors’ beliefs, traditions, and practices, then it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to pass on these customs to the next generation. A country’s culture fades into obscurity and becomes lost and forgotten if knowledge isn’t successfully passed on to these young individuals. In the end, the identity of the country and its people is also lost in the process.
3. Western Culture Can Cause The Loss Of A Country’s Culture
One of, if not the most insidious adverse effects of western culture is its ability to erase a country’s existing culture altogether. Cultures from foreign countries can incite curiosity and wonder in the local populace. Upon discovering particular beliefs, traditions, and practices from those foreign cultures, they may adopt them into their way of life. However, a country’s culture is put in danger if its citizens ultimately decide to adopt foreign cultures and replace their local beliefs and traditions. In such instances, that particular country’s culture experiences a slow decline and may even fall to obscurity altogether.
Adopting a few beliefs and traditions from other cultures is a good thing. It can replace outdated and harmful beliefs and benefit and strengthen the local culture. However, citizens must draw a line and be aware when the adoption of foreign concepts becomes excessive and harmful to their culture.
4. People Overexposed to Western Culture May Choose Foreign Lifestyles Excessively
Choosing to model your way of life to foreign lifestyles isn’t harmful in and of itself. It becomes problematic if this is done in excess. For instance, spending an extravagant and excessive amount of money just to match your way of life to foreign lifestyles could send you into debt and poverty and even ruin friendships and relationships along the way.
On the other hand, even if you can afford to sustain a foreign lifestyle, it may be impractical or inappropriate to continue those practices in your country. Most of all, if you are only maintaining that lifestyle to impress others but you aren’t happy with it yourself, then maybe you should consider if it is still worth it to live a foreign lifestyle.
- Citizens Influenced By Western Culture May Excessively Prefer Foreign Literature
Another adverse effect of western culture is the tendency to prefer or excessively model local literature to foreign literature. While it is beneficial to expose yourself to a wide variety of media and books, overly preferring foreign material has its demerits. For starters, you may end up developing certain biases towards western literature. It can come to the point of ignoring or even shunning the works of local writers. You may also find yourself forgetting the writing styles and the masterpieces that your country’s writers have produced.
On the side of creators, they may see this shift of preference from local to foreign styles and force them to adopt the latter to stay relevant. In the end, if all local writers adopt this practice, then that country’s signature writing style and creative identity would be lost and forgotten.
6. Western Culture May Influence Professionals To Work Abroad and Cause Brain drain
Brain Drain is another problem that is attached to western culture. Professionals in a particular country may consider moving to a different country to seek better employment opportunities. While this practice, in and of itself, is not bad, the problem lies if a significant number of that particular country’s workforce also does the same. If left unchecked, that country will inevitably lose a lot of skilled and qualified workers who can prove disastrous to that country’s economy.
Some jobs have more significant impacts on a country if most of its professionals decide to migrate abroad for work. In particular, medical workers and engineers are two of the most critical human resources a country can have. Losing these workers can spell disaster in maintaining public health and ensuring public safety in the form of medical care and proper building procedures.
Countries must provide better employment opportunities and competitive wages to their workers and more comprehensive benefits and packages to convince them to work domestically instead of preventing brain drain.
7. Western Culture Can Cause Colonial Mentality
A country’s economy can also be negatively affected by western culture. When foreign goods and products become available in the market, people may become fascinated and attracted to these wares. They may end up purchasing these products to satisfy their curiosity about the quality of these goods. If they find the products’ quality to be excellent, this can lead to people patronizing more foreign products. While purchasing foreign and imported goods isn’t bad, it only applies if it’s done in moderation.
Some people may form biases when it comes to foreign products, influenced by Western cultural norms. Mainly, their biases may lead them to believe that imported goods and foreign products are of much higher quality than locally produced items. If a country’s citizens decide to patronize imported goods solely, local manufacturers may lose business and go out of business entirely. It can also lead to the country being forced to import more goods than it can export. All in all, these adverse effects can affect local businesses and threaten a country’s economy.
THE PROS AND CONS OF WESTERN CULTURE: RECAP
In conclusion, the pros and cons of Western culture present a multifaceted landscape to consider. Western cultural values have undoubtedly brought forth numerous advancements in various domains, ranging from technology and scientific knowledge to individual freedoms and economic opportunities. However, it is important to recognize that cultural globalization, driven by Western influences, has not been without its drawbacks.
To navigate the impact of Western culture, it is crucial to strike a balance and critically evaluate its effects on different societies. Acknowledging both the positive and negative aspects can foster a better understanding of the complexities involved. By embracing the beneficial elements while preserving cultural diversity and promoting sustainable practices, societies can strive for a harmonious coexistence in our globalized world.