“The spread of global communications technology, such as the internet, has lead to a worrying trend of westernization in countries around the world.” Using existing literature and data; evaluate this claim.
As the United States became the world superpower in the last century, a trend of westernization can be observed. Even the Islam and the Middle East has not been able to escape from the trend of Westernization. For example, Abootalebi (2003) commented that the Muslim societies in the Middle East are being influenced by Westerns values to a certain degree, and that influences can be observed from both the political and economic arena. Apparently, a trend of global hegemony is undergoing around the world, as people from various regions from different parts of the world are adopting Western practices, philosophies, products, values or ideas.
For this, the rise of internet had been said to be responsible for creating the trend of westernization. In this article, such a notion will be examined and discussed. It is definitely interesting to understand, if internet is truly responsible to the trend of westernization? Besides, internet, is there any other forces are also responsible to creation of a trend of westernization?
It is hard to deny the fact that westernization is a trend easily observed around the world, and that is most obvious from the adoption of western culture by others. One of the very obvious trends on how people around the world are being westernized is due to the adoption of fast food eating habits. The many types of western foods are currently available in many restaurants around the globe. People that previously consume only rice are now found to be frequently consuming burgers or fried chicken. Essentially, this means that people are becoming more westernized as they consume fast food and western diet or dishes. In this context, Gunewardene, Huon & Zheng (2001) had performed a study, to investigate if an index of exposure to westernization would be able to forecast the eating behavior over and above the predictors of body mass index (BMI) and social influences. Consistent with our argument presented before, the authors able to find evidences that the fast changing dieting habits can be found among adolescent females around the word, in which the degree of exposure to westernization is the highest.
Besides, there are also evidences that internet is creating the trend of westernization among people in other regions of the world. According to Latova and Latov (2009), there are evidences that the students from several countries as follow, namely Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan had develop more westernized mindset. The longer these students use the internet, they might be affected to adopt certain western style in daily style. The teenagers or students are easily influenced to adopt the western habits or style after exposed to the largely western oriented materials in the internet.
However, it seems that without the influence of internet, the trends of westernization still persist. In one of the study, it is found that bad for health living style from the West is also fast to be adopted by people in other country. Stigler (2010) argued that young people are also found to have fast to addicted to the smoking habits, widely advertised by Western tobacco companies. That is valid even in rural areas. However, there is obviously lacking of internet connections in these rural areas, whereby the infrastructure is largely undeveloped, lacking and insufficient. It is not hard to imagine that if these areas do not have the access to clean water; internet connectivity will not be available as well. If that is the case, then how these youngsters can be influenced by internet to adopt smoking habits promoted by western tobacco companies?
Apart from that, it is also easily observed that in many rural areas, people are wearing jeans. Given the fact that many of these people are not literacy in English, and living below poverty line, it is reasonable to expect that they learn up these habits not from the internet. Apparently, other mediums are also responsible to create a trend of westernization among the people in these areas. For this, it can be reasonable argued that the advertising and promotional campaigns by western companies, through local magazine, bill boards, newspaper, television programs are more influential than internet to bring the trend of westernization to different parts of the world.
From the political context, westernization is also evident. For example, Tsygankov and Tsygankov (2004) argued that certain evidences of westernization in the political context of post-Soviet Russia can be seen. In fact, Russia is indeed changing fast since the fall of communism ideology in the nation, whereby the country is moving towards a market oriented economy. A centrally planned economy was demised, and democracy is being embraced. People are also allowed to work and accumulate personal wealth, and personal freedom are said to be valued more since then (Ruble & Popson, 1998). However, apparently, in the specific event of fall of communism in Russia, internet did not play any significant role in leading to the transformation process. That is because at that particular time, internet is still not something popular. It is most likely that the Russian are adapting and assimilating the Western philosophies through books, magazines, news, sharing with friends and any other methods. Thus, it is not unreasonable to believe that the trend of Westernization exist even without the existence of the Internet.
Besides, the degree of westernization in the political arena is not huge. For this, it is also worthy to mention that westernization is not something that will be fully accepted by the other countries. For example, Rosefielde (2007) argued that although it can be found that China has been embracing many western practices or philosophies in developing the country, many western culture or values are indeed being consciously rejected. The author argued that to a certain degree, China is modernizing, instead of westernizing the country. Apparently, only useful western values or practices will be adopted. This lead us to question if indeed the Westernization trend can be more accurately described as a modernization trends.
Thus, apparently, instead of accepting blindly on the Western values or philosophies, people are consciously choosing the best and most useful items to be adopted. The popularity of Internet, however, seems not to lead people to blindly to adopt the Western style, but to get exposed to the best practices or foreign ideas, that can be used for own benefits around the world.
There are also evidences that business practices around the world are becoming more westernized. According to Cutler, Javalgi and White (1995), the influences of Western culture can be found in the print advertising of several countries in Asia, namely, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The influences of western cultures can be found as there are frequent use of western models, celebrities, languages and words in the advertisement in these countries. That is not the only evidence. In fact, according to Khairullah & Khairullah (2005), westernized Indian printed magazine and advertising often contain the following elements: western setting/decor, western language used, western models, and as well as western individual/group appeals.
However, at the present, there is no research found to have indicated that internet is the medium creating or promoting the adoption of western business practices. However, to a certain degree, we cannot deny that Internet has brought new ideas to people in other parts of the world. As people get exposed to the internet, they learn up new things, and once they discover something useful or practical, it is reasonable to expect that they will adopt these practices.
Again, as argued before, internet may bring ideas from the west to other part of the world, but may not necessary remain so. It is more accurate to conclude that internet is just a medium for people to share ideas and information. A trend of westernization might not be permanent, as ideas can also flow from the East to the West. Zhuang and Whitehill (1989) argued that although many western business practices are available to the Chinese, many of the businessmen are found to not adopting the western business philosophy. It is argued that they Chinese have certain philosophy that they apply to manage their own business. It is argued also that it is probably the business environment in China is demanding different set of best practices.
Overall, there are clear signs that a trend of westernization is happening around the world in the past few decades. It is also understandable that the internet had hastened the westernization trend. However, internet may not be the only medium responsible for such trend. Other mass media, such as television, radio, magazine, books from the West are also playing important roles. In fact, the spread of the Western ideas, as well as the trend of some pioneer local people that embrace Western ideas, may play more critical roles in spearheading the Westernization trend in their countries. In fact, from another view, internet is just the medium to share information. People just get the ideas (although most of these ideas are from the West previously), and then try to apply them for personal benefits. As in the past decades, the prosperity as well as the high performing economy of the countries from the west, that has been enabling the citizens to enjoy a high standard of living lifestyle, that attract people attentions, to learn the ways to achieve a better lifestyle as well. It is not something definite or sure that the trend of Westernization will persist as long as Internet becomes more popular. The trend may reverse as well, as ideas from the East may flow to the West in the future. Such a trend is already evident in some part of the Western world, where books on Sun Tze Art of War, the Art of Tao, Chinese Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Japanese management philosophies are some common topic available in bookstores in developed countries in the West.
ABOOTALEBI, A. (2003). SIMON W. MURDEN, Islam, the Middle East, and the New Global Hegemony (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 2002). International Journal of Middle East Studies, 35(3), 513-515.
Tsygankov, A. P., & Tsygankov, P. A. (2004). New directions in Russian international studies: Pluralization, Westernization, and isolationism. Communist and Post – Communist Studies, 37(1), 1-17.
Gunewardene, A., Huon, G. F., & Zheng, R. (2001). Exposure to westernization and dieting: A cross-cultural study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 29(3), 289-293.
Cutler, B. D., Javalgi, R. G., & White, D. S. (1995). The Westernization of Asian print advertising. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 7(4), 23.
Khairullah, D. H. Z., & Khairullah, Z. Y. (2005). A Study of the Extent of Westernisation in Indian Magazine Advertisements. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 17(2), 2-16.
Kleiner-Liebau, D. (2008). Hybridising East and West. Tales Beyond Westernisation. Empirical Contributions to the Debates on Hybridity. Internationales Asien Forum. International Quarterly for Asian Studies, 39(1/2), 178-180.
Latova, N., & Latov, I. (2009). Characteristics of the Westernization of College Students’ Mentality in Modernizing Countries. Russian Social Science Review, 50(2), 50.
Rosefielde, S. (2007). The Illusion of Westernisation in Russia and China. Comparative Economic Studies, 49(4), 495-513.
Ruble, B. A., & Popson, N. (1998). The Westernization of a Russian province: The case of Novgorod. Post – Soviet Geography and Economics, 39(8), 433-446.
Winkler, I. (2007). Westernization of the East or Easternization of the West? Journal for East European Management Studies, 12(4), 270-271.
Stigler, M., Dhavan, P., VanDusen, D., Arora, M., Reddy, K., & Perry, C. (2010). Westernization and tobacco use among young people in Delhi, India. Social Science & Medicine, 71(5), 891.
Zhuang, S. C., & Whitehill, A. M. (1989). Will China Adopt Western Management Practices? Business Horizons, 32(2), 58.