Discuss some of the ways Western and other foreign cultural elements have been incorporated into the popular cultures of China Indonesia and Japan. How do these elements interact with Asian cultures? Do Asians accept foreign cultural elements without criticism or opposition?

Assignment 1: Essay
Weight: 40%
Length: 2000 words
Due date: 11.59pm Friday 19 January 2018
Submission format: .pdf
Relates to Learning Outcome 3-4
Assignment Instructions
Write a 2000-word essay on ONE of the following two topics.
Your essay should conform to normal requirements for academic essays in its style, structure and
referencing of sources. This unit requires APA referencing style.
You are encouraged to read widely, not just from the required readings, but also from recommended
readings and other reliable sources.
Topic 1
Discuss some of the ways Western and other foreign cultural elements have been incorporated into the popular cultures of China, Indonesia and Japan. How do these elements interact with Asian cultures? Do Asians accept
foreign cultural elements without criticism or opposition?
In your answer, you should apply key theoretical concepts introduced in this unit, and include examples from all
three countries to illustrate your points.
OR
Topic 2
Discuss the ways cultural actors (activists) and creators in China, Indonesia and/or Japan express social criticisms
through their work.
You must include examples from at least two of the three countries (China, Indonesia and Japan), and at least
two of the forms of cultural expression studied in this unit (films, literature and popular culture).

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Westernization (Question One)

Introduction

Culture is a way of living within a group of people. It is defined as individuals with shared values, principles, actions and beliefs. Typically, it is a common denominator that makes the behaviors of people apprehensible to a particular group.  It is the aspect that provides a group of people with an identity to differentiate them from others. It can be represented either in the form of material or non- material culture. Whereby, the latter comprises of thoughts and actions which individuals learn as part of their culture. Such encompasses abstract things like family, language, religion, and education. In contrast, the other form involves all the things which individuals create and give meaning to it. These include physical creations such as buildings, food, and dressings. Different individuals in various communities have distinct cultures though they also share some similarities (Alexander, Thompson, & Edles, 2016, p.64). Many Asian values have been lost over the years, although some foreign cultures have been accepted with opposition whereas others without criticizing.

Western Ways Incorporated into the Asian Culture

Material Culture

  1. Dressing

Globally, each culture has its own sets of traditional clothing as it provides a sense of identity and history as well. It is dressing that distinguishes communities in regards to styles, designs, and fabrics as well. However, much of the dressing aspect is one of the essential things in culture; it is gradually disappearing in the Asian culture (Alexander et al., 2016, p.71). Clothing is one of the western aspects that have been thoroughly encroached in the Japanese culture. Today, it is rare to find men and women wear traditional dresses. It is when there is a Japanese festival or a public performance that one can see many women in Kimono. The majority of the Japanese, youngsters, and adults, the dressing is mostly influenced by western clothing and fashion shows which are quite common on television these days (Hosseini, 2010, p.7356).

The case is not any different in China as well. Western dressing started to get popular in China in the early 20th Century.  Since then, western forms of dressing have continued to be embraced. Han Fu and Qipao amidst women have considerably lost meaning as they are rarely worn. Similarly, Zhongshan suit has also lost value amongst Chinese men. As a result, American brands like Adidas as well as Nike have elevated in popularity in China. Fashion trends in the United States such as blue jeans, jumpsuits, and T-shirts are becoming a trend in the present day in China (Hosseini, 2010, p. 7356). Since the middle of the 20th century, the Dutch colonialism era, Indonesia clothing has also been continuously affected (Zakharov, 2017, p.158). For instance, Indonesians also prefer wearing jeans instead of casual trousers.

  1. Food

Everything to do with preparation, consumption and even cultivation of food represents a cultural behavior. Such meals are passed on through generations as they help protect the identity. They may be homemade or produced in restaurants, small and large manufacturer (Alexander et al., 2016, p.63). Years ago, fast food in China was regarded a street vendor selling one of the numerous unusual specialties. The initial opening of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) led to the introduction of other U.S fast- food restaurants (Jie, 2010, n.p.). Some of these include Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Burger King. As a result, the healthcare system in China shows that China has been paying for the price of embracing the western lifestyle. For instance, childhood obesity has been on the rise over the years. In 1985, less that one percent of children and teenagers were obese (European Society of Cardiology, 2016, n.p). In 2014, seventeen percent of boys and nine percent of girls suffered from obesity (European Society of Cardiology, 2016, n.p).

The condition is also manifesting in Japan. Since 1962 to the year 2002, its rate has increased threefold as more than 20% of the population are obese (Hooper, 2012, n.p.). Consequently, diabetes has also been on the rise since obesity is one of the primary causes. The circumstance can be ascribed to the fact that the population has substantially embraced American foods such as burgers. The Indonesian cuisine has not only be influenced the western culture but also by that of the Chinese and Indian. Subsequently, this has substantially resulted in the extensive range of meals. Nevertheless, some of them have been transformed to suit the tastes of the Indonesian cuisines. As a result, lifestyle conditions like obesity are much more minimal in Indonesia compared to China and Japan. For instance, in 2007 in Indonesia, the rates were approximately 18.8 percent (Wirdana, 2017, n.p.).

  1. Buildings

Another element that plays an essential role in cultural identity is buildings which refer to construction. Various cultures possess distinct kinds of structures. The Chinese architecture is undoubtedly a carrier of its community’s culture. The architecture styles are ancient, rich and quite varied as in temples and folk houses. These greatly mirror the community’s thought which is the harmonious solidarity of humanity with nature. However, there is a current trend of westernized apartments, especially in the urban areas (Hosseini, 2010, p.7357).

China has also influenced Japan. The practice of the Japanese developing elaborate temples came from China. In general, the Japanese architecture started to imitate the complicated forms with bigger rooms than before and inner courtyards as in China. It is undeniably true that the style of curved roofs which is present even today originate from the foreign influence of China (Buntrock, 2014, p.50). The Indian architecture has dramatically influenced that of Indonesia. Most of the structures are established on stilts which are dominated by quite big roofs (Hosseini, 2010, p.7358). The foreign influence is seen in the style of monuments as well as in the reliefs featured in outer walls of the temples.

Non-material culture

  1. Language

Without language, there is indeed no ideology of the culture. Distinct cultures speak differently. Humankind learns culture via this element. Therefore, they act as an expression of cultures as it forms a ground for ethnic and nationality identity (Alexander et al., 2016, p.74). Even when there is a similarity in language between groups, as in the case of Asian languages, there is still a variance in speaking. Hence, one can easily differentiate them. English is extensively used in these Asian countries. Perhaps, this could be because the economies of these nations continue to lead worldwide growth. With the advancements in telecommunications technology as a result of globalization, comes the importance of English. For a reason, the language acts as a gateway to a platform of opportunities. Further, these Asian countries have incorporated English into their education system. In turn, children learn the language at a younger age these days unlike in the past. For a reason, learning English facilitates with reduction of unemployment rates in the countries. Such is so as there is a rising need of teachers for English as well as interpreters since there is an increased number of a foreigner. The mastery of the language is, in fact, evident in the local Asian television channels as many programs are teaching distinct European and English languages. Unfortunately, this is bringing about constant cases of “loss of mother tongue” particularly with the young generation (Pennycook, 2017, p.92).   

  1. Family

Various cultures regard family in different manners. Some like define this unit as those individuals with blood relations whereas others believe it consists of a wife, husband, and children.  Mostly, persons living in rural areas, view family from a broad perspective as it is inclusive of relatives while those from an urban background view it in a much narrow sense (Alexander et al., 2016, p.79). China, Indonesia, and Japan are some of the top 20 highly populated regions in the entire world with approximately 1,412,536,021, 265,519,863 and 127,320,896 respectively (Worldometers, 2018, n.p). The Asian countries have always embraced the idea of having large numbers of family. On the other hand, most American families have always preferred to have not more than two children. As a result, the economy of the United States is one of the most powerful in the world. Nevertheless, the culture of Asians’ desire to have a large family is slowly eroding.

 In the case of China, the government has in fact put into place a two-child policy. For Japan and Indonesia, the case is relatively different. It is that individuals are now being encouraged to exploit family planning methods to minimize the large population. For a reason, it is claimed that a large population promotes negative impacts such as financial stress and poverty (Timms, Brough, O’Driscoll, Kalliath, Siu, Sit, & Lo, p.84). Hence, this attributes to the increased performance of the countries’ economy not only regionally but also globally. Other than this, there is also a rise in the number of Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families. Nevertheless, there are insufficient rights for this group in Asia compared to other countries (Adamczyk, & Cheng, 2015, p.278). Adam & Cheng assert that this transition could be as a result of increased internet use from teenagers to adults. Also, this could be due to lack of proper legislation concerning the matter.

Opposition

Regulators have been very critical of the matter.  For they seem to understand that in today’s modern world the mass media, such as televisions and social media, perform a crucial role in the assimilation of foreign practices.  Reports regarding the aspects of social and entertainment news have been set to thorough assessment.  In this case, only mainstream ideologies ought to dominate the news. Responsible outlets are discouraged from contents that promote over the admiration of the western values. The internet and televisions bring the issues of homosexuality, and extra-marital affairs to light. Hence, many actors from these Asian countries have placed strict controls against storylines concerning such cases. Such is so as they claim that matters like though encouraging immorality resulting in a corrupt society. Also, some people advocate for the closure of freewheeling news websites. For a reason, they produce stories which are quite sensitive. The aim has been to strengthen the country’s identity through discouraging western lifestyles, particularly those without any positive impact at large (Connel, 2016, n.p.).

 Campaigns against westernization have also been held continuously. Actors like education officials feel that western value has dramatically infiltrated in the learning system that they should. Hence, some of them tend to oppose the dissemination of western books into the classrooms. Instead, Asian materials should be legitimately adopted. Beech (2016, n.p.) states that these leaders do so with the intent of reforming, renewing as well as growing the power of the region.

Zakharov (2017, p.158) argues that it is of paramount importance to apprehend the difference between modernization and westernization.  Westernization entails replacement of indigenous cultural elements with those of the western world. Therefore, this involves factors such as dressing, houses and cuisine. On the flip side, modernization is remolding of the cultural system into an upgraded mode.  In this case, technological aspects aspects like mass communications and computer control systems should not be regarded as losing of the Asian values. For a reason, such dimensions enlarge the outlook of the people and the community at large. It helps in transitioning the way of thinking and universal perceptions. Hence, modernization is essential for implementation as it enhances the living standards of people.

Conclusion

In brief, foreign culture has been immensely incorporated into the Asian world. As a result of the negative impacts, cultural activists have greatly criticized westernization. Channels such as campaigns and strict regulation have been utilized for the opposition of the matter. As much as there have been adverse repercussions, there have been positive impacts. Some of which are not only beneficial to an individual, but a nation as well. For instance, the unemployment rates have significantly reduced, whereas the poverty scales have substantially declined. Modernization may be considered as a better term with a different meaning. Nevertheless, it is almost the same thing with westernization. Such is so because the embracing these technologies is what has intensified the adoption of western value. Technology overcomes the distance factor and individuals can virtually learn online.


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