In this essay, the notion that the spread of global communication technology, such as the internet has lead to a worrying trend of westernization in countries around the world will be discussed. In order to evaluate such statement critically, the issue will be analyzed from several different perspective. Firstly, this essay will discuss if there really exist some evidences supporting that a trend of westernization is happening around the world, from the cultural, business practices and political perspectives. Then, this essay will discuss if the spread of global communication technology, particularly the internet technology is the key medium that leads to westernization in the recent decades (or perhaps there are other medium responsible for leading a trend of westernization around the world). Thirdly, this essay will discuss if the internet has really sparked a trend of westernization, or the internet is indeed creating some trends that are more subtle and complex. Such a view will also be discussed from three perspectives, i.e., the cultural, business practices and political perspectives. Last but not least, this essay will also discuss if the trend of westernization is truly worrying (or indeed is beneficial to people around the world).
Today, many of the world political landscape are adopting the western political structure, primarily due to the highly successful, effective and viable political system that able to create fast economic growth in the west. Although such a trend had started since few hundred years ago, it can still be observed in the recent years. For example, Spanakos (2001) argued that there are evidences that political processes and order in the other parts of the world are indeed being westernized. Accordingly, the fall of the communism and central planning economy of the previous Soviet Union is good evidence that the ex-Soviet Russia is embracing a more westernized market economy. Not only is that, in the recent months, it is also observed that people in the Middle East is demanding true democracy system, similar to those implemented in the west, in their countries. All these are evidences that westernization is indeed observable within the political context.
Adopting the western business system or practices is nothing new. For example, even in the 19th century, there were financial reforms in the Middle East. Many countries from the Middle East adopted the Western models, through the legalization of interest, the establishment of secular courts, and banking regulations to establish more stable and effective financial institutions in their countries (Kuran, 2005).
Today, there are more evidences that business practices are increasingly westernized. For example, a study by Lin (2001) indicated that although the traditional Chinese values remains relatively stable in modern Chinese advertising appeals, there are subtle changes in cultural values and advertising strategies among the Chinese corporations, whereby new western elements can be observable. Business practices or English language are also used by the Japanese widely. According to a research performed by Mueller (1992), it is found that well over 3/4 of the Japanese advertising incorporated at least one non-translated English-language word, will the western celebrities are also widely used in advertising and promotion activities. All these shows that some of the western advertising techniques, through the use of celebrities, women and sex elements (to the extent of using English words), are increasingly common in the East.
From the cultural perspectives, it is not hard to discover that people from around the world are now wearing jeans, having McDonald, KFC or Pizza Hut as their dinner or lunch, listening to the English R&B songs, adoption of hip hop culture among the youngsters, as well as slowly to adopt a more western lifestyle and mindset. Traditional habits, costume are increasingly replaced by the western costume. In most part of the world, it can be found many business executives are wearing Western style business suits for meeting and business negotiation.
Having discussed that there are many evidences supporting that westernization is indeed happening around the world, this section will discuss if internet is the key factors leading to the westernization process. For this, it is indeed logical to think that internet is powerful to bring the western ideas and lifestyle to the other part of the world, as when people surf the internet, they are exposed to many western ideas and marketing communication messages. It is likely that they might be attracted to try out new ideas, adopt new lifestyle, or simply found that the products or culture from the west highly relevant for them. As more and more people are having access to the internet, it is rational to believe that more people will become more westernized after getting in touch with the materials on internet.
However, to associated internet solely to the process of westernization is not something logical. There are also many other factors leading to a trend of westernization. For example, westernization process may also be cause by the travel of people around the world. When people travel from one place to the other that is dominated by the western culture, they will tend to learn the new western style and culture, and thus may affect their friends or family members at the home country. Such a process is depicted clearly by a research conducted by Jithoo (1991).
Apart from that, internet is not the only communication channels for people from different part of the world. According to Roussou (2006), after conducting a study on how the television had affected people from Cyprus, it is found that television indeed had been transmitting the English culture to the nation. Other communication channel that can replace internet include radio, books, magazine, educational system, marketing communication messages delivered by the western world, and direct personal interaction with people from the west.
Besides, it should also be acknowledge that internet is just merely a tool or mechanism to communicate between people. In the case that people from the east are adopting western culture, they are doing so because they found that western culture or styles are attractive. Without or with internet, these people will still adopt the western culture.
It is correct to mention that Internet has indeed brought along the western ideas, philosophies and lifestyle to the east, but that is not completely true. Indeed, with some deep thinking process, it is also not hard to understand and discover some daily evidences that Internet as well as other communication channels, have also bring eastern ideas, philosophies and lifestyle to the west (Howell, 1997). For this, Kurth argued that a trend of westernization is indeed true in the 20th century, whereby he cited that the United States is the main defender of the Western civilization. However, as the other parts of the world are getting more developed, the trend of westernization had indeed changed into a trend of globalization. Such a view is also explicitly expressed by Radtke (2007), where the author indicate that as China is becoming more powerful today, the Chinese influence is emerging, countering the trend of westernization in many part of the worlds. For example, the Chinese way of doing things, as well as the perceptions of Chinese is more positive in the Middle East, if compared to the reputation of Western countries leaded by the United States.
Thus, it is more accurate to perceive that internet is just a medium that accelerated the communication speed and frequency between people around the world. The flow of influence is bi-directional. There are also trends that people from the west are being “easternized”. For example, from the cultural perspectives, it is very common that people from the west are learning yoga (from India), Tai Chi and Shao Lin Kung Fu (from China). Many Chinese restaurants are also can be seen in the western country. From the business management perspective, many business management philosophies, for instances, the Just-in-time, kaizen, Toyota production Methods (from Japan) are also widely applied among the western automobile manufacturer.
Lastly, it is argued that to mention that the trend of westernization is worrying is not accurate. It is true that when people from the east adopted the fast food eating, Coca-cola drinking, and smoking habits, they are more likely to suffer from health issues. However, not all elements from the west are bad. For example, the economic system, the educational system, the governmental legislation as well as the legal system from the west are something beneficial to the other people from the east. Thus, westernization is not something to be worried. It is purely a process of human evolution – adapting to the best practices for survival and growth.
To conclude, it is argued that there indeed is a trend of westernization around the world. There are evidences supporting the claim of westernization from the three perspectives that we had mentioned above, namely, cultural, business practices as well as the political context. However, it is illustrated that internet is not the only medium encouraging the westernization trend. Other communication channels are also helping a lot. In fact, without the leverage effects of internet, the westernization trend will persist, as long as people find it attractive to adopt western culture. Then, it is also illustrated that instead of arguing that internet is leading to a trend of westernization, it is more accurate to say that internet has hasten the pace of globalization. Ideas flow, not in a uni-directional way to the east, but also from the east to the west. As long as people from the west found that certain culture, practices or ideas from the East is attractive, useful or applicable, they are likely to adopt these ideas. Indeed, with the proliferation of internet, eastern cultures and values are increasingly adopted by people from the west. Curious folks from the west are indeed found to have studying or learning the ideas from Buddhism, Tao, and many others. Thus, a process of globalization is more evident. Westernization may be dominating in the past, but in the future, it is more reasonable to expect that flows of ideas and influence are bi-directional in nature. Lastly, there might be some evidences that westernization has brought negative impacts to the people from the east, but there are also many positive changes brought about by the process of westernization. For example, increasing standard of living, decreasing poverty, and better healthcare and educational system are all benefits enjoyed by the world through the westernization process in the past.
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