What Is Westernization?

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The term westernization refers to the conversion to or adoption of Western traditions and customs. This very broad definition reveals that westernization can mean different things to different nations and cultures. However, in the current global context, the term westernization refers to the proliferation of social, economic and political ideas that is typically associated with wealthy countries of North America and Western Europe.

The traditions and customs that are associated with Western values have been aggregated from different cultures and nations throughout history. The majority of the basic social and cultural values of Western nations have roots in the European tradition, such as religious beliefs and cultural celebrations. Much of the economic and political philosophies are adopted from the more recent founding principles of the United States of America.

In today’s context, westernization refers to the widespread presence and adoption of these customs and traditions and standardization of these customs and traditions to the point that they are expected to be found everywhere. For example, the widespread use of the English language in business and professional interactions reveals a tenet of westernization. Other examples include finding McDonald’s restaurants in foreign nations, Hollywood fashion abroad and liberal economic systems that privilege free markets.