Aaron J Hudson Intro to Sociology Prof. Payne November 1st, 2005 The United States is categorized as a heterogeneous society. We contain a multitude of cultures and sub-cultures that differ in religion, income, and race, just to name a few characteristics. The diversity that exists here in the U.S., with regards to some of these same characteristics, is unique in the sense that no other country can compare to how diverse we really are. With the many different aspects of culture that reside here, how can the United States be blamed for cultural imperialism? Why do certain aspects of different societies here in the States crossover to other countries and have such an impact on those societies? Why are we blamed for infusing our culture onto other cultures as a result of this impact? Why is this imperialism considered a negative aspect of societies? How about cultural ethnocentrism? Is it right for cultures and or sub-cultures to judge other cultures different from there own, based on its own culture? How does the practice of this idea have a negative effect on the judging culture? Using these statements and questions posed, I am going to discuss how I feel that cultural imperialism and cultural ethnocentrism can weaken a society. Before going any further about the negative side to ethnocentrism, let’s note that there is a positive side as well. Teaching children to believe that there country is the best country is a form of positive ethnocentrism. Promoting the positive views of patriotism to one’s country would also constitute as positive ethnocentrism. Back to the negative side of ethnocentrism, there are various reasons why one would partake in this practice. An individual may have been raised in such a culture that stressed his/her culture as superior to all others. These beliefs may have been branded into the member’s wellbeing from birth. If one grows up in an environment where all they witness is ridicule and condescendence upon any other race except their own, the individual will not know any other way to act. Passed on from their ancestors, they will continue to judge other cultures based on their own. Now, imagine this idea on a larger scale. Now you have now one, but many cultures and sub-cultures that practice cultural ethnocentrism. This culture grows and grows impacting their views upon surrounding cultures. Eventually, these cultures will conflict with others and may result in civil unrest. I’m taking this example to an extreme, but there is a reason for this. No one said judging others did not come without consequences. Being on the negative side of ethnocentrism could have a reverse effect on the judging culture. That culture may ultimately alienate themselves to the point that they will not only judge other cultures, but build a greater hate and anger towards them. This build up of hate and anger can lead to internal and external breakdowns of societies as a whole. Not only could these negative feelings lead to societal breakdowns, the judging culture’s alienation may lead to an empowerment to push or infuse their culture into another nation. This is the practice of cultural imperialism. This could be used as a tool to produce a homogenous global culture. Like I mentioned in my intro, the United States have been accused of being a culturally imperialistic nation. But, why is that? How could the U.S., which is a heterogeneous nation, create a homogenous global culture? It is believed that culturally imperialistic nations force their styles, their fashions, their music…their culture onto other nations. Is that really true? How can one nation actually force their culture onto another nation? An example of this would be Germany with Hitler and the Concentration Camps. The Natzi’s forced their culture onto the Jews. Those who did not comply to change were murdered. So Germany, at the time, was considered a very culturally imperialistic nation. Though this example is on the extreme side, it effectively demonstrates how one nation can be imperialistic. In conclusion, this act of imperialism can definitely weaken a society. Obviously, the culture or nation who is the victim of such an act is not only weakened, but torn apart. This extreme act of imperialism paints a negative outlook on the attacking nation as well. How cliché it may sound, actions do speak louder than words and the murderous acts of the Natzi’s, ultimately weakened their own society in the long run. On the lighter side of cultural imperialism, let’s use clothing as an example. Denim is an American creation, a westernized fashion that has now spread world-wide as the most worn material made. How is this explained? Is the United States infusing part of their culture onto another nation’s culture? The U.S. did not aim a gun at the members of other nations and force them to wear denim. So, can the United States really be accused of Imperialism? Or is it free market at its best? Was the popularity and demand for denim clothing the reason why it spread so rapidly throughout the eastern world? I believe I have clearly stated my opinions on the effects of cultural ethnocentrism and cultural imperialism. I do believe both can weaken a society by changing the norm in a society. Whether you’re judging another culture based on your own beliefs and values or forcing those same beliefs and values onto another nation, you may be causing unwanted or un-needed change. References: Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Kentucky: Thomson, Wadsworth, 2005.