a global analysis of culture
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A Global Analysis of Culture
Culture is a means of need for every human being dwelling on the face of this earth. A similar reflection of it can be seen in Alex Thio’s essay on “A Global Analysis of Culture”. The chapter was originally published in his book, “Sociology: A Brief Introduction” in 1999. The core idea of the essay is to address different culture universals together with cultural clash and aspects of cultural relativism.
Like any other biological necessity, culture is also a human need that includes different aspects of “clothing, complex communications, peaceful coexistence, and aesthetics and spiritual experiences” (Smoke 80). For doing that, there are a number of means including development of housings, music, literature, art forms, languages and symbols.
Nevertheless, these universals are quite different because of difference in culture all around the world. Examples of different religions as outlined by Huntington include Western, Japanese, Confucian, Slavic-Orthodox, Islamic, Latin American, African and Hindus. Hence, these religions together with other norms constitute a culture. Nevertheless, the very same culture is also responsible for a number of conflicts too. For that Huntington has observed that the international conflict is no longer due to different in political and economic outlook; rather it is cultural in nature. He has also outlined three basic reasons that includes that the differences within culture are “real and basic” (81) and do not necessarily reflect violence.
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Secondly that due to globalization and “shrinking” (81) of world, understanding of different culture is increasing. And thirdly, the changing social contexts and modernization is destroying local traditions thereby giving room for religion in order “to fill the gap” (82). And ultimately, the growing difference in notion of differences on democratic, and human rights grounds is leading its way to cultural clash.
Nonetheless, the resistance is present in the form of ethnocentrism in almost every part of the world with a different degree of penetration in society. It includes common sleeping practices and eating habits that are considered acceptable in one culture whereas rude and offensive in another one. Ethnocentrism is considered as “glue to hold the society together” (82) and serves as a beacon of unity. However, an excess of ethnocentrism leads to severe global unrest and violence.
For counteracting with ethnocentrism, cultural relativism is introduced. It is basically a belief that encompasses the understanding that culture should be analyzed on their very own terms and local perspectives. The major example of it includes contractual obligations that are quite different in the United States as compared to Greece or any other Muslim countries. Considering the grounds of international peace, cultural relativism can also play a vital role. In 1993, President Bill Clinton has forced the Chinese government to have better human and political rights for their citizens which has developed severe tension between these two countries. Surely, the Chinese government has counteracted the government by asking the United States to focus on police brutalities, poverty and racism against African-Americans. However, as part of expansion of US product to Chinese markets, the United States had stopped pressurizing the government of China.
Surely, this aspect raises concerns over the degree of cultural relativism over different ethical aspects of genital mutilation, infanticide, genocide and/or torture. Among this scenario, the “Live and Let Live” (83) policy can be considered to be quite repugnant. Moreover, in view of different cultural relativists condemn the understanding of other’s terms while abandoning their own respective morals and cultural outlooks.
Smoke, Trudy. A Writer’s Workbook: A Writing Text with Readings. 4th ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print. pp. 81-84
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