Are Humans Becoming the Same? 

How the spread of Western culture affected the world


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Grabbing a cup of coffee has never been so controversial. Supporting local businesses over global corporations preserves local customs.

Staff Editorial

As far back as the 15th century, the world has experienced an explosion in the number of people interested in taking part in Western culture or Westernization. Western food choices, religion and clothing have all been important factors why Western culture has reached all over the world. While Westernization is often thought to destroy smaller cultures, it also helps boost economies in developing countries. 

Global food corporations such as McDonald’s, Subway, KFC and Starbucks are all chains spreading anywhere from Brazil to China. Because the world is becoming more globalized, food corporations are more likely to expand out of western countries than ever before, especially due to technological advances. Even before global food corporations came into the picture, mid-17th century New World crops such as corn, cassava, sweet potatoes and peanuts were introduced and harvested around the world on continents such as Asia and Africa, showing that the process has been around for a long period of time.

A disadvantage of this rise in food globalization is that corporations negatively influence people’s diets by implementing unhealthy fast food restaurants. As more fast-food chains are established, local diets and eating traditions decline. People in nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America have diets consisting of rice, beans and vegetables. These diets are considered healthy because they are based on staple, unprocessed foods, whereas Westernized diets emphasize meat and dairy products, which can lead to health risks including obesity, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Economically, the chains are more practical for lower-income families, allowing them to have cheaper foods but to the detriment of their health. 

According to researchers Katherine L. Craven and Steven R. Hawks, diets influenced by Western cultures can be harmful, but they provide economic advantages. 

It generally has been found that there is a positive correlation between economic development, urbanization and negative nutrition transitions with the result of growing levels of obesity and diet related non-communicable diseases, Craven and Hawks said. 

One characteristic of culture that Westernization has also affected is how people dress. Due to Westernization, a typical man’s business suit can be found anywhere across the world. Because people want to follow their role models, pop culture icons are a means by which Western culture spreads across the world. According to the staff at the University of Washington, the 20th century has seen new ways to dress throughout the world, combining local and global influences. 

During the 20th century new modes of dress were created in an attempt to integrate both traditional Chinese and western cultural influences,” staff members at the University of Washington said.  

China has both refused and accepted Western culture’s expression of clothing by wearing trendy clothing as well as keeping traditional styles. China is a perfect example of how countries should adopt a combination of Western and traditional culture succumbing to globalization. 

The diversity of languages has also been altered because of Western culture. Living in the 20th century, not knowing English is difficult if one uses the InternetLearning English, however, contributes to the loss of smaller cultures by eliminating them. For instance, some languages’ eldest speakers will die without teaching the younger generation their languages. On the other hand, an advantage of learning English is the ability to interact economically in the world, allowing for more connection between cultures and communication among individuals. 

History teacher Henry McAninch believes while high-status languages have impacted smaller cultures languages, they should not be blamed for the natural declination of the use of languages spoken by a dwindling population.

Low-status, low population languages, take Cornish for example, cannot survive for long when put under pressure from higher status languages with a larger population of native speakers,” McAninch said Framing this process as somehow the fault of the West, is not helpful.” 

The differing impacts of Westernization on smaller cultures is complicated, and it is becoming more complex as technology improves. Though economic advancement, which is the main advantage of globalization, is essential to progressive societies, it is also important that those with power should make an effort to preserve smaller cultures so as to maintain diversity and promote the celebration of culture.