Thursday, July 25, 2024

Western Culture v/s Asian Culture

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In the global exchange of ideas, the western culture v/s Asian Culture ignites strong reactions, let’s understand them

Dan Treber, a cultural anthropologist defines culture as “epidemiological representation of signs and symbols”.

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It is the sum total of our customs, traditions, ideas and a way of life. It forms an integral part of our religion.

In the global interaction of societies, many important debates take place, one such debate is the cultural comparison between western and non-western, essentially Asian societies.

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However, this western culture v/s Asian culture is not only a favourite matter of intellectual discussion, but in our mundane lives, we tend to discuss this with each other.

Let’s see what they essentially espouse.

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Western Culture-Hub of Individualism

Ever since Liberalism emerged in the early 18th century in England, it has been synonymously identified with western culture.

In that sense, western culture stands for primacy of the individual.

This means that the individual is the most important constituent of a society.

It articulates that while the society and the community do matter, yet the individual is the centre of all activity.

This culture considers that the state must not encroach on personal liberty of individuals as the personal domain of the individual is considered to be “sacrosanct”.

In that notion, family bonding, communal solidarity and an attachment to one’s kith and kin is considered to be anti-ethical to the very idea of individual freedom.

This ‘I-me-myself’ is the real reason responsible for the high rates of divorce and detachment in western society.

People are simply unwilling to compromise with their loved ones to sustain a relationship.

Parents aren’t considered to be important in that culture.

In a marital relationship, the result of a small argument sometimes leads to divorce. Twenty-thirty year marriages are failing.

On top of that the infamous hook-up culture i.e. casual dating, sexual intercourse sans the emotional and mental bonding is making this culture all the more negative.

Asian Culture-Collectivism Personified

In contrast there is Asian culture.

Asian culture stands for strong family bonding, respect for elders, communal solidarity and deification of one’s culture.

Asian culture believes in collectivism.

This means that any decision within the family will be taken by the family members on the basis of a consensus.

While there is little doubt that there must be an element of privacy, it cannot come at the expense of breaking bonds.

In the public sphere as well, the state assumes a paternalistic role in policy making and implementation.

Good examples of countries that are the epitome of Asian culture are India, China, South Korea, Iran etc.

What is Happening Now?

The most interesting thing is that thanks to globalization, the West and East embracing each others’ cultures.

In India, this hook-up culture has managed to establish its roots quite firmly in Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities.

Whereas, foreigners under the influence of Indic cultures and institutions are eschewing their culture and embracing the collectivistic Asian culture.


What we, Bharatiyas need to understand is that we must not lose ourself in the blind pursuit of materialistic western culture.

We should remain firmly anchored in our roots while embracing modernity and rationality.

Hence the message is this-in the Western culture v/s Asian culture debate, we Asians, must not lose sight of who we are in light of Western influence.

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